STOLEN by Katariina Rosenblatt & Cecil Murphey

The True Story of a Sex Trafficking Survivor

From the publisher:

Sex trafficking is currently a hot news topic, but it is not a new problem or just a problem in “other” countries. Every year, an estimated 300,000 American children are at risk of being lured into the sex trade, some as young as eight years old. It is thought that up to 90 percent of victims are never rescued.

Stolen is the true story of one survivor who escaped–more than once. First recruited while staying with her family at a hotel in Miami Beach, Katariina Rosenblatt was already a lonely and abused young girl who was yearning to be loved. She fell into the hands of a confident young woman who pretended friendship but slowly lured her into a child prostitution ring. For years afterward, a cycle of false friendship, threats, drugs, and violence kept her trapped.

As Kat shares her harrowing experiences, readers will quickly realize the frightening truth that these terrible things could have happened to any child–a neighbor, a niece, a friend, a sister, a daughter. But beyond that, they will see that there is real hope for the victims of sex trafficking. Stolen is more than a warning. It is a celebration of survival that will inspire.

This was one of the worst books I’ve ever read. What should have been an important message about sex trafficking in the U.S. is instead an homage to Christianity. The only reason I finished it was because I was asked to do a book talk/discussion for the Social Impact Series at Lynn University, where I work. The Impact Series addresses various topics each month, and part of the series is a book discussion on a book relevant to that topic. The January topic was Sex Trafficking, and this book was selected because the author is local and it was suggested she might be available to participate. It was then decided that we don’t get enough of a turnout to warrant inviting the author, so that was that and I was stuck reading this book.

This book is Kat’s story. She did an interview with CNN several years ago for a series they did on sex trafficking in the US: Watching this short video is preferable to reading this book.

When people think of sex trafficking, they often think of it as something that happens to other people. We think it can’t possibly happen in our town or neighborhood; it’s a problem in big cities or across the border or internationally. We want to feel that the young people we know – our children, our friends’ children, the kids in our neighborhood – can’t possibly be at risk. We are wrong.

It is partially true that sex trafficking does occur across our borders and internationally, but it also occurs here in these United States. Every day. Ohio leads the nation in sex trafficking, followed by Florida, where I live and where this book is set.

The book is divided into three sections. The first is Katariina Rosenblatt’s personal story–her abuse, how her loneliness attracted a recruiter in the hotel she lived in, and how she was groomed step-by-step into slavery by traffickers, her escape and recapture numerous times. In the second part, Kat had escaped and is married, but is in an abusive marriage. The third part of the book deals with how she got involved in saving children from traffickers. She has her own foundation which is promoted heavily here.

The other major theme in this book is an exploration of Kat’s Christianity. The author talks about accepting Christ as her Savior at a Billy Graham crusade when she was 12 years old, a year before the first time she was trafficked. Burned into her mind and heart from that night was Mr. Graham saying, “Remember this: God will never leave you or forsake you.” This was repeated throughout the book, usually when she did not know what to do or where to turn. The Church plays an important role in her life, but lead me to question some of what she talks about.

I had some issues, for instance, with these quotes:

“They’re less likely to go back if people like us can help them break that invisible bondage and provide a mentoring relationship with a safe, Christian adult.”

To me, this sounds like it is useless to help if that safe mentor isn’t a Christian. That’s just some flat out bullshit.

“When I first began visiting strip clubs, I went as part of a group. One night, eight girls came to the Lord through our efforts. That night God seemed to have infiltrated the whole building with his love. We had gone out to the floor and talked with the manager, and we had the privilege of leading him to Jesus Christ while a girl was dancing. We also gave tracts to most of the customers, and they accepted them. Tears flowed as Jesus broke off the shackles of bondage from all sorts of people, from the managers to the girls and even to some of their clientele.”

This was way over the top to me. Not every woman who works in a strip club wants to be “saved” nor do the customers. I found this bizarre.

A bigger problem, however, is her underlying belief that homosexuality is something that can be prayed away. In the chapter “Wedded Bliss”, she talks about her husband’s stepsister:

“The woman was a lesbian, and her girlfriend was involved in Santeria, a religion that is a mixture of African and Caribbean witchcraft and Roman Catholicism…Joel & I prayed regularly for them … ‘I know you’ve been praying for me. Thank you,’ she said. ‘I’m not in that lifestyle anymore.'”

Yep, Kat prayed away the gay. Ugh.

The writing is quite simple and often repetitive. This book was not reviewed by any authoritative journal or newspaper. I did find a “review”, and I use the term loosely, in a Christian women’s magazine that praised her finding Jesus rather than critiquing the book. Most of the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads were from Christian women who were given a free copy of the book for review from the Christian publisher. ‘Nuff said.

2/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

STOLEN by Katariina Rosenblatt & Cecil Murphey. Revell; First Edition (October 7, 2014). ISBN: 978-0800723453. 240p.




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