British-born Rachel Lloyd dropped out of school at 13 to support her single alcoholic mother. With little opportunity, she soon found herself spiraling into a life of torment and abuse as a sexually exploited girl. Vulnerable yet tough, Rachel broke free of the street and her pimp thanks to help of a local church. But that was just the beginning. . . .
Three years later, Rachel arrived in America as a missionary working with adult women in the sex industry. As she began to meet teenage girls who shared her experiences, she decided to found her own non-profit, GEMS—Girls Educational and Mentoring Services— on her kitchen table to meet the needs of girls who were shunned by society. Along the way she earned her GED and won a full scholarship to college and a graduate program. Today, Lloyd is the founder and director of GEMS in Harlem, one of the most ground-breaking nonprofit organizations in the U.S. In stunning detail and with cinematic style, Lloyd tells her life story—a harrowing and inspirational tale of suffering, recovery, discovery, and nobility. She reveals the dark, secretive world of her past with clarity, understanding, humanity, and psychological insight.
A fierce and passionate crusader, Lloyd explains the factors—including, addiction, abuse, poverty—that lead so many vulnerable young women into sexual exploitation. She explains the seduction of pimps and johns, the biases of cops, the racial stereotyping, the sexism of the courts. And she lovingly talks about her successes, sharing stories of her girls whose lives she has helped. It is these small victories which have healed her wounds and made her whole.
Deeply moving, authentic and brave, Girls Like Us is a remarkable, deeply moving, and utterly unforgettable memoir.