Stage-shy Ellerbe woman now speaks to the world

Robinson: “I’m a survivor,” standing strong

By Kevin Spradlin

* Listen live at 9 p.m. each Thursday at this link.

Personal experience taught Christina Robinson to do whatever she could to shut out the world. An opportunity, however, now has her speaking to a global audience.

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 8.34.42 AMThe Ellerbe resident debuted on Nov. 13 her online radio talk show that, on a personal front is both a struggle — to come out of her shell — and a mission. That mission, Robinson said, is more important than any one of her personal concerns. Robinson’s first guest on “Survivors Standing Strong: Human Trafficking” featured special guest Glendene Grant. Grant’s daughter, Jessie Foster, went missing at the age of 21 in Spring 2006 from Las Vegas, Nev.

Grant said she soon learned her daughter, a former honor student, had been arrested in June 2005 for prostitution. The charge led Grant to believe her daughter became a victim of human trafficking. Foster hasn’t been seen since.

Robinson said the pair have befriended each other through social media. Though their backgrounds are quite different, they share one key element: emotional pain tied to loss such that those who have not endured it can not imagine.

Good evening, this is Christina Robinson.”

Her voice is shaky but sure. She quickly introduces Grant, an advocate for building human trafficking awareness. In the nine years her daughter has been missing, Grant has become a public relations expert. Where Robinson might lack — for now — Grant easily picked up the slack.

The conversation turns to focus on Foster, and Grant’s coping with the loss.

“You need to develop the skills that will allow you to keep living a decent life, even with them missing,” Grant tells Robinson. My eyes opened so wide. Things have never been the same.”

Robinson’s life, too, has changed. Time and time again. It was, she said, part of her parents’ effort to conceal all the wrongs being done to her and her family.

“We’re not from anywhere,” said the 47-year-old. “We traveled at least 46 times across the United States in 10 years. That’s how nobody knew what he did. In one school year, we moved six times. I would come home from school with homework in my hands and I knew we were leaving.”

Relocating so often failed to allow Robinson the chance to find and keep a friend long enough to tell her about the rampant sexual abuse.

“My parents were never parents,” Robinson said. “I never knew what parents were. My stepdad brought … one to six men and sold me. That’s how my mother received (money for) her prescription drugs that she was addicted to, and her alcohol. And my mother was aware of it, but she was so messed up that she overlooked it.”

Her parents, Robinson said, “abused me, they abandoned me, and then foster care was just as abusive. When I started having kids, I had to just do the best I could. I knew that love … came natural to me. I did the opposite of what they did.”

She uses that same intuition to reach out to Grant and connect. It’s a Herculean task — it goes against most everything Robinson learned early in life — but the effort pays off.

“How did you find out,” Robinson asks, “that she was involved in human trafficking?”

Grant said her daughter stopped calling on March 29, 2006. The family hired a private investigator right away, and the investigator learned of Foster’s hospital visit for a broken jaw and an arrest record. The charge? Prostitution.

“I talked to a woman who ran the escort agency she was forced to work at,” Grant said. “We know that Jessie was either sold to someone else … held against her will or even wise. She might have been murdered that night. We don’t really know.”

Grant, an experienced guest, realizes she’s there to teach as  much as to heal. To that end, she has more than a few lessons to offer the audience on Robinson’s debut show. Among them:

* “You don’t ever want to tell a parent, ‘Well, I hope you get closure,'” Grant said. “What you want to do is hope they get answers. Closure is actually a little bit offensive because it makes it sound like everything’s gonna be okay. That’s not how it is when the victim is your loved one … It’s a hard subject because nobody really knows the right words.”

* “They need to accept the their life will never, ever be the same. But that in itself is not always a horrible, worst-case scenario. Most people have a way of developing coping skills through a tragedy.”

* The old you is gone. You might as well hold a funeral. I don’t even hardly remember my life without a missing daughter. It’s almost been nine years. I do not remember waking up and not having this on my mind. It’s a long-gone memory. I’m okay. I don’t mind the new normal. I don’t mind the new me. I’ve done a lot to help people.”

“I wanna talk about it”

She’s a new person now, though with the battle scars of a warrior. Through the pain, she reached out to Grant one day on Facebook after reading a story that anti-trafficking advocates thought they were close to finding Foster.

“I really care about whatever they’re going through,” Robinson said. “And then I help. I’m a survivor.”

In her spare time, and with limited ability due to her medical conditions, Robinson has created and maintains daily several Facebook pages intended to bring awareness to a variety of relates causes, including:

* Survivors Standing Strong
Murdered, Missing and Gone Too Soon
* Most Wanted: Fugitives, Criminals and Pedophiles

“I thought about what it would be like to have a missing daughter,” Robinson said. “It just touched me. Once we started talking, we just became friends.”

Though it goes against everything she taught herself while growing up, simply trying to survive, Robinson said it’s time now to open up and begin a dialogue. Whatever the issue is, “I wanna talk about it.”




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  • Lisa Annette Bell

    So proud of my butterfly! Out of the cacoon and ready to spread her wings! Soar and fly high sister! Reach those stars!

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