(Introduction to show begins)
Eric Meadows (Co-host): Good evening we here at WCAN want to welcome you to another episode of Missing Pieces hosted by myself and Todd Matthews. Todd how are you tonight?
Todd Matthews (Host): I'm doing good and getting ready for Christmas, how about you?
Eric Meadows: I'm doing really well, really, really well. You know it's good to hear from you. Merry Christmas to you also. We have got a good show planned from what I've heard.
Todd Matthews: Been working on it.
Eric Meadows: Really? Who have you brought with you tonight?
Elizabeth Hudson (Guest): I sure am!
Todd: Good to hear you finally.
Elizabeth: Yes, yes!
Todd: We have been really good friends over the internet for a very long time.
Elizabeth: Yes we have, yes we have.
Eric: Well Beth good to have you hear tonight. I've heard a lot of good things about you, both from some of our listeners as well as from Todd.
Elizabeth: Oh, fantastic.
Eric: How long have you been writing?
Elizabeth: I've been writing for a great many years, poetry, short stories, magazine articles. 'Snow Bodies, One Woman's Life on the Street' is my first novel. I wrote it because in the seventies I lived and worked on the streets in both Calgary and Vancouver. People's lives can change on the spin of a dime and mine did, almost like a miracle. A hand reached for me and I reached back and I ended up spending the rest of my life in the suburbs living a very nice middle class life. I wrote the book because all the time I've been in the suburbs doing my reading; I've never actually read a book that reflected the experiences that I had had while I was on the street. I thought that needed to be addressed. There's a great many books out there on recovery, but there is very few written from a female addict's point of view and so that is why I wrote the book.
Todd: Well it's really good to have you here. You were originally born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and you moved to Calgary eventually, do you have any memories of Halifax?
Elizabeth: Yes, sure I do.
Todd: What's the contrast? Tell us a little bit about the contrast between, that part of Canada and the Western part of Canada.
Elizabeth: Oh Okay, Yes well Halifax of course is in the Maritimes, a very Maritime by the sea type of existence. I have especially fond memories of my grandmother's old Victorian home in a little place called Pars borough, where you could just walk right out to the sea and it was absolutely wonderful. Certainly when we moved out to Calgary it was just like I said in the book, you could still see cowboys walking down the streets with their big buckles and boots. You don't see that quite so often anymore because Calgary has become very cosmopolitan, but certainly back then we still had our prairies and grain elevators and so on. Canada is a land of contrasts, just like the US.
Todd: Absolutely. When did you first get on the wrong path?
Elizabeth: On the wrong path? When I was a teenager and it really truly is something that parents I think should be very aware of because I started off smoking weed and then just like I'd been literally sucked into a whirlpool, I just kept going down and down trying different drugs and so on and before I knew it I was addicted to heroin.
Todd: Oh my god! It's scary. I've got a fourteen year old son and everyday it's just like you are on the verge of a nightmare because you are so afraid that something is going to happen.
Elizabeth: Yes, yes!
Todd: Did you ever run away?
Elizabeth: Yes I did. Actually I showed all the signs that a troubled teenager would show, I ran away, I self mutilated, in fact I did everything I think that a troubled child does to call out for help. Yet, even though my parents were certainly very middle class and certainly could have afforded me some counseling or even sent me to some place for treatment or something, they did not attend at all to what I was doing, and what was happening in my life and that I was obviously very troubled and needed some help.
Todd: Well I want to date you and show your age exactly but now this was the seventies, right, you were a teenager in the seventies?
Elizabeth: Yes I was.
Todd: So and that then was a different era? It was more accessible.
Elizabeth: It was a different era and that is what really scares me about what I see happening today. Certainly in the seventies, yes, women, working women on the streets did disappear but it actually didn't happen very often. In Vancouver I think it was maybe one a year and so it didn't happen the way that we are seeing it all across North America now, five in England, sixty three in Vancouver and I can't remember how many the US has with the Green River Killer, but the point being, that now we are seeing large numbers of women being stalked and killed on the street and you never really saw that before. To me that is a symptom, to me the women on the street, the working street are like canaries and what that saying is there is really something wrong with our society that we allow this kind of violence to be done to these young women and men. I really want to emphasize that because generally speaking we are talking about young, very young people, teenagers, those in their early twenties because those are the ones that actually have value on the street and so I like to say that dead women can't make choices and no matter how dark the road that you have found yourself on there is always hope for change.
Todd: How do they end up this way? How do you get to that point? You know? What do you see happening? Were you depressed? Self medicating?
Elizabeth: What, was I self medicating? Absolutely and I think a lot of troubled kids do self medicate, because they are available and it makes them feel better and before they know it they are addicted and they are doing things they would have never dreamed of. When I went back over my own life, I cannot believe that I would have allowed myself to sacrifice everything on the altar of my addiction and which is what I did, you know, my dignity, my body, everything. I find that just absolutely horrifying when I look back and I think most of the young people caught in that vicious cycle, if you are to take them aside and talk to them they would tell you that they to, are horrified, but they don't know how to get out of it and they don't know how to stop.
Todd: Wow, did you ever stop where you actually looked back and could not believe how deeply you had gone into this world? That stands at a time I know certainly someone wouldn't plunge directly into it, it had to be a surprise to you at some point in time to look back and realize or did you even realize?
Elizabeth: Oh, well part of the reason that I wrote the book because the book addresses that and that is really I had very little time for a lot of reflection because my whole life was spent drug seeking, you know, working to get money for the drugs, doing the drugs and working, it was just a vicious cycle. So there wasn't much time for reflection but when I did and there were a couple of times that I did in these dumpy seedy, slummy hotel rooms, and I would just think I was suppose to go to university, what am I doing here.
Todd: That's where you were at that point where you actually realized that I'm not in the right place, shouldn't be here.
Elizabeth: No, but I didn't know how to get out. Even thought that we have more help available for our young people, there is still not enough help out there for them.
Todd: And I have read your book and the guy that introduced us, Wayne Leng with MissingPeople.net (Also a guest on Episode 7) introduced us, and he made a gift of this book to me and he said you will really like this lady and I did, quite instantly, you were a really nice lady to talk to on the internet. We've emailed for years and you've actually written an article for the Doe Network about the Doe Network that we're going to include in the archives of this show actually. So I've actually found the right spot for it, this is where I want to try to include it because I've seen that you have paid attention to the cause and so many different things, the crimes, the missing persons, the unidentified persons and I've seen you recognize these. I think you are moving beyond the issues that you've overcome personally and I think you are actually trying to help on other issues.
Elizabeth: Yes I am.
Todd: But now the missing it does kind of tie into your world because you have seen the serial killings. Were you ever afraid at any point in time?
Elizabeth: Yes, I ended up in a little hotel room, a trick room in Vancouver and a man came at me and he just flipped and I really thought he was going to kill me. So I know what it's like to look into the eyes of a killer and I know the fear and what I distinctly remember even to this day, is, the thought that was in my mind, that oh my god, this person is going to kill me and nobody is ever going to know who did it.
Todd: That echoes into the Pickton case that is currently happening right now.
Todd: Now how did that ring in your mind at that point in time? I don't really know exactly how far this was actually realized at the point in time when you actually backed out of this situation. How did you see the Pickton, the killings, of course Pickton was named at that point in time, but you know the Vancouver killings, I know you were aware of them during that point in time? Elizabeth: Yes, I actually wrote an article about it in MacLean's Magazine which is a National magazine here in Canada, because I was so horrified by it, I was horrified that there was so little reaction by the police, that they had allowed this to go on for so long, that there was no human cry by the public. I found it absolutely heart breaking and it made me very angry, it made me very angry, because, there seems to be these very negative attitudes toward the women who work the streets and they're judged and blamed and shamed and marginalized and discriminated against. It's almost like society just shrugs and goes oh well, it's a high risk lifestyle so, oh well. Well it doesn't matter what kind of life style you lead, it doesn't mean that death should be part of the equation and that every time you go work that's a possibility. That's just not acceptable.
Todd: Well though shall not kill, applies to everybody.
Elizabeth: Yes, that's not acceptable and particularly since this group is so vulnerable anyway. They really are.
Todd: Well they pick the weakest. I think Pickton picked the weakness most vulnerable group that he could find and I think some people rationalize it because it was prostitutes and I think they were able to say well…
Elizabeth: They judged and they judged and they criticized them and you're right, and they said oh well and that's what makes me furious. We're talking here about young women and yes okay, they have an addiction, well addiction is a disease. There's always hope, always hope.
Todd: Well they are in trouble and you are living proof of this, that there is some resolution in this world. You know Wayne and I have talked about this from our point of view, from our side and us being on your side and we could see and wonder how they actually continued to go on the street night after night and what type of demons they had on the inside that forced them to go out facing this killer that nobody was trying to stop, or it didn't appear anybody was trying to stop, but from your point of view how terrifying was that? How deep was your addiction?
Elizabeth: Well it was so terrifying that I myself could never work the streets unless I was high, unless I had lots of heroin in my system, because heroin took away the fear. If I didn't have the heroin, I was terrified and I couldn't go out there. With the heroin I could. I think that you will find that is the case, I'm not going to say with everybody, but with I would say a large majority of the women cannot face that without the drugs, because the only thing that you have when you are out there is your wits because you have to be able to assess in less than a minute if somebody might be safe or not.
Todd: Well did you take care of each other? Were you able to work in groups where you checked with each other?
Elizabeth: You tried, but that's not always possible, not always possible. Especially on the street because you are looking at car work and there usually is not somebody around writing down the license plate number. You usually are working with other women who are also in the same predicament as you are and so you look out for each other, they might be gone when somebody comes around and picks me up but it's really difficult to have any sense of safety. Once you get in that car, I like to say, child locks might have save a lot of kid's lives and that's wonderful, but I often wonder how many prostitutes lost their lives because somebody clicked those locks and the car became a prison and a place to kill them.
Todd: That's something you know myself from this point of view probably wouldn't have thought about that. It's a terrifying thought and pretty much all you could do to actually help each other is pretty much a head count at the end of the day to make sure everybody came back.
Elizabeth: That's about it, yes.
Todd: Wow, I'm seeing that there are, and this is what I have with the Doe Network in Canada in Alberta that there are seventeen missing persons listed with the Doe Network, eight males and nine females and I'm looking at the NCIC and I see that there are eighty-three listed. That's quite a bit more and of course we can't get all of them. It's very difficult to harvest all of these. Elizabeth: Yes, in Alberta we have our Highway of Tears where nine women have gone missing. Todd: I think that is pretty much what we have with the Doe Network are those particular cases.
Elizabeth: Yes, so again some of those women were hitchhiking and we don't really know why the others were out there. The point being that whether the woman is alone or hitchhiking or she's working the street; she should not have to fear for her life.
Todd: Nobody should have to.
Elizabeth: No, I'm going to talk to you for just a minute from the safety of the suburbs. This woman that I read in the paper was a young woman who I had worked with and they had found her dead in a spot that generally when we did car work we went to. They have still not found her killer and this is like decades later. I remember crying with frustration because I really understood they probably never would find her killer. It's just so difficult to catch these people until they've done 63 or 50 or 5.
Todd: A totally unacceptable amount.
Elizabeth: Well, the point being it seems to be, have sunk in to, resonated somewhere, that every, I'm going to say men, who have anger or rage against women somehow now know that they can go out a woman standing on a street corner will get in the car with him and then he can take out all his rage on her.
Todd: And it's night likely that she has anybody to go to like the police.
Elizabeth: Well, even if for example myself, I would never have gone to the police because of the attitude that I have encountered was, oh well, this is the lifestyle that you are living and this is what you have to expect. Well, excuse me I don't think anybody has to accept violence and abduction and robbery and threats of death. Sorry, unacceptable.
Todd: This is just the hazards of the job actually in your mind at the time.
Elizabeth: The police really on the street are more your adversary than they are your helper because they're there to enforce the law.
Todd: Yeah, Wayne actually talked about some officers that were really special.
Elizabeth: I have to say, this, I did have one police officer who was just absolutely terrific, he checked in on me, he was really, really, good to me, but you know what; I also had others who I just never would say were good. I felt like a hunted women, I did, I felt I was hunted by the vice squad, by the drug squad, both the city police and the RCMP, so it was a pretty scary existence. I did not view them as somebody I could go to, that's for sure. Being on the street you are so isolated and I really did not know where to go to get help. That's why to me it's so important that we have outreach programs and they really do try to put out their hands and bring them back, because there's just way too many are going missing. As far as I'm concerned, one dead woman going missing and murdered because of a lifestyle is unacceptable, but the amounts of women that were seen going missing, I don't know why society isn't truly horrified.
Todd: Yes, and that is why we did the sketches originally, I think if you remember, Wayne and I got together and did the sketches and some people didn't like them, you know some of the family members I think they mistook them, I don't think they realized the reason for it, it was because we felt it was unacceptable that sometimes the only images available was a mug shot and I think that just the wrong image to put out there because it just reinforced this feeling that some people had, the negative feelings.
Elizabeth: Well, it really is difficult when you are working the street, you have to remember that you're not taking good care of yourself, you're not eating properly because you hardly ever do eat, ah, I would have considered a milkshake and chips perfectly okay, that would have been all I would have eaten probably for about two years, coffee maybe. So you're talking about malnourishment, well that doesn't do much for your looks. Just the general wear and tear of being out in all kinds of weather, it was just very, very difficult. My looks changed when I was out on the street. The street changed me in so many ways and certainly my appearance reflected that. So I did not look like the young pretty girl that I was before I came into that world.
Todd: And now have you seen a reversal?
Elizabeth: Yes and I always wanted to be remembered if anything had happened to me as working as I did before I entered that world.
Todd: And that is what the effort was in that particular thing because I felt like that was what you saw in the mug shots was the affect of the disease.
Elizabeth: Yes it is.
Todd: Yes, it wasn't the true reflection of that person, it was the drugs it was the environment that they were in.
Elizabeth: Yes, yes absolutely and I completely agree with that.
Todd: Well on the Doe Network in Canada we have 76 unidentified persons, 61 of them are males and 15 of them are females and that kind of surprised me that particular number. Alberta has 3 of these, 2 of them are John Does and 1 of them is a Jane Doe. I think a lot of them don't make it into the NCIC, the FBI NCIC, they're only counting 1, 1 and I'm seeing here for a fact that in Alberta there are 3 and the FBI NCIC has only 1. That's a failure to report; a failure to report it to the FBI NCIC and that's very important.
Elizabeth: Yes, but I think that you are also touching on another issue here which is, that because these women are so marginalized and discredited that they are also considered not that important. So it's not unusual that somebody wouldn't make them a top priority. I mentioned Anita my friend who was killed and they never found her killer and I wanted to write an article about her and so I phoned the police and I just wanted the exact date of her death. Well they didn't have her in the computer and she is a murdered woman and why is she not in the computer? I thought they were supposed to be really getting on top of this and I think this happens all the time.
Todd: Well it happens in America to of course. We have another guest that will be coming up in the future. Her name is Linda and her brother Kenneth went missing. This is in Yazoo City, Mississippi and he is still missing, in fact. She was told by law enforcement that trash takes care of trash. That was their point of view, that's why they weren't working so diligently on his case. Pretty much he made his bed and now he's laying in it. That is pretty much what they told her and can you imagine how that must of felt when they told her that?
Elizabeth: Well, I think that that is part of the rage that I feel because of these negative attitudes, that people, some law enforcement and a lot of society...
Todd: It's class, the class that you actually are seen in. I think that some people are seen in this disposable class.
Elizabeth: Yes, yes and so when you have those kind of negative behaviors towards a certain class of people, then you can justify why you are not responding to their needs, because you have already said that they are less than, because they live a high risk lifestyle, because they're an addict, because they're a prostitute, because, because, because. Ah, which is just justifying these kind of negative behaviors that were causing it and anybody who works in the field is going to continually run into that by some insensitive people who don't truly understand that these were real live women that we were talking about who are now dead.
Todd: For the most part these people did not choose this particular lifestyle. I'm sure you didn't set out; you know like you said you should have been in university and you just didn't wake up one day and decide I'm going to go into prostitution and drugs and make that choice.
Elizabeth: No, no, no it was a very sort of gradual slide into it and in my case as long as my boyfriend was supplying my drugs I was fine but when my boyfriend went to jail and my parents refused to let me come home and I had no place to go and I had an addiction, that's how I ended up working the street. So I like to say it's so important that when somebody says hey I want to come home or I want help, that they we help them.
Todd: That we have the resources there to help them.
Elizabeth: Yes, before they fall into this lifestyle and then they have so many other things that they have to overcome because the street is very wounding to you, it ruins you spiritually and physically. I would like to see a lot more young people not be wounded and to not put themselves in the way of what could lead to their death.
Todd: Speaking as somebody who has literally been into this hell and back, how do we reach these people?
Elizabeth: I like to say you can reach them in vulnerable moments because as long the drugs are flowing and as long as they are having a good time, you are not going to reach them. When one of their friends are killed, when something terrible has happened on the street, that's when they'll stop, they go oh my god I have to change my life and that's when we have to go in and nab them and try and get them back.
Todd: Because of the addiction with drugs most people see them as criminals and they are actually possibly afraid of them, you know, afraid of approaching these people, when really they're the victims, there victims themselves.
Elizabeth: I would just like to quickly slide in here that you have to remember that if you take a cat and throw it out on the street, what do you get in a couple of years? You get a ferule cat. Well when you take young people and they're out on the street, they in a way become ferule because, for myself the only thing that I had was my fierce reputation to protect me. Well behind that shield of life's so tough and don't talk to me, was really a very frightened and scared little girl. But that's all you have for protection is this fierce attitude and so in a way I like to say yes, I became quite ferule. I had to learn to drop all of that in order to fit back into society. So that is why I can say it now, I look back and say yeah, I was a wild child.
Todd: Wow, now Eric you see why kind of trouble you could have got into if you had run away?
Eric: Yeah, but let me tell you about the trouble I did get into with my drug addiction. You know I'm listening to you Beth and wow it just brings back a lot of memories. I have a lot of questions, a lot of things that I do agree with you on and some that I don't. The last thing that you made about the ferule cat, you know, you weren't a throwaway. This is.
Elizabeth: Oh, I'm not saying that I was a throwaway but I like to use that analogy so that people understand because it was mentioned that people are afraid to approach those on the street and part of that is because they have to have this attitude in order to survive, that's all you have. If you don't make your reputation as being tough, then you're not going to make it. You can't live on the street and not be tough.
Eric: Well let me ask you this. While you were involved in this life change if I can put it, in dealing with the fear, the paranoia, the drugs, malnutrition, the esteem issue, negative class perceptions, all of these things, someplace in there was a moment of clarity, when you had a chance to escape, how and when did that happen?
Elizabeth: It happened to me on Calgary's 8th Avenue Mall and I happened to be sitting there and what I like to quote in one of my vulnerable moments, an old hippy friend of mine came along and said what are you doing and I said nothing, he said where are you staying and I said nowhere, he said come and stay with me. So, in that moment, now you have to remember that women who are on the street are young women and the most important people in their lives are their peer group. Also when we tell them, hey you have to straighten up, you have to change your life, you have to leave everybody you knew behind, the loneliness often drives women back to the street and it's because they are lonely, they need a peer group and they don't relate. They get lonely.
Todd: You return to your family, the family that you know.
Elizabeth: Yes, absolutely, but in this case because I went and stayed with my friend Jack, I got to replace my old street drug addicted friends with his friends and he took me out with him, I could hang out with him, I could hang out with his friends, so I didn't feel lonely. So that was step number one for me, step number two, was he allowed me to detox at his place and so he allowed me to drink copious amounts of alcohol, drop pills and smoke pot, but at least I wasn't sticking a needle in my arm. So I got to detox and so as I came down I needed those things less and less so as I needed those things less and less then my thinking became clearer and so I got switched to a peer group, I got to detox, so therefore I got a start at a new life.
Eric: Okay, I guess what I am pointing at is this. When you moved in with Jack, you started making decisions either because of the unavailability of the heroin or because you were just in a different peer group and you decided to substitute one for the other and there were moments of clarity that were coming about and you begin to perceive that and even as you said that you know you realize gee, I don't need this, because I don't have to cold turkey off of it, you know I've already gone through those processes, I guess the point I am trying to get at is that I know that for me when my moment of clarity came, I leapt at it, I mean I really leaped at it and for me it was like I relive it every day, I can't get enough of the joy that I feel with maintaining that level of clarity.
Elizabeth: So I would certainly never, ever want to go back. Even to write the book was really not a pleasant experience at all, because to write the book I had to go back there in my mind and it's a place I never ever want to go back to. It's a very, very dark frightening place and my moment of clarity if I relive it would be the moment Jack put out his hand and I grabbed a hold of it, because that was the first hand that had reached for me in a long time.
Eric: And you know the beautiful thing about it is that you reached back.
Elizabeth: Reached back, are you kidding, I held on tight. Laughing!!!
Eric: You know they say that if you hold out a sword to a drowning man he would grab the blade. He really would.
Elizabeth: Yes, yes.
Eric: I hear you talking and my wife and I were talking about, ah, I don't talk about it often, about my drug addiction because it really does kind of make me feel, to go back there, to think about it, to think about all the loss.
Elizabeth: Yes, yes.
Eric: And yet when I think about it and I think about the joy and the pleasure that I feel, I mean, if you saw me then at 160 lbs and today at 270 lbs you would know the difference right away. So I know about the malnourishment.
Elizabeth: Yes, because you're not taking care of yourself, you are not taking care of yourself on any level. You're only taking care of your addictive needs and that is it. Like you say, I'll use your words you have a moment of clarity. Then you understand that life offers so much more than just addiction, it offers so much more, there is so much more life, there are so many more opportunities. And, ah yes, yes.
Eric: When were in the midst of your down trodden life, when did you come to the point of realizing oh my god I have lost all of my innocence, there is nothing that I don't know or have not seen?
Elizabeth: Well you know what I would say that there were times when I would go to Tupperware parties and things like that and I would actually feel very jealous of the women who were surrounding me, because they still had an innocence that I no longer had. I never would have again and there certainly have been times when I have mourned that.
Eric: Even now?
Elizabeth: Even now?
Elizabeth: Yes, even now.
Eric: You know you say Tupperware parties and what brought me back to it was I went fishing with a lot of friends and they were having a great time catching fish and not even catching fish and here I was thinking about my drug of choice during the whole trip trying to appear as though I was having a good time and toward the end of it realized you will never be able to do this again if you continue the way that you are going. Oh man, Beth I'm glad you came on tonight.
Elizabeth: Oh, laughing.
Eric: You know it's almost like revisiting an old friend that you really don't want to go back and see anymore.
Elizabeth: Yep, but you know what? I really think for myself, I think now I have to go back because I think it's really important to try and educate people to what that life is like. And it's really important for people to see, oh look there's this middle class woman and she's made it, but yet she is still talking about this other life and we need to know about it so that we can understand how to help more.
Todd: You didn't leave it completely behind, you didn't turn your back to it, you actually wrote a book about it.
Elizabeth: Yes and I go out and I speak about it because I think it's really important for people to understand. I think if they understand and they see what that life truly is and they can see the humanity of the people behind the addiction because a lot of the time they just see the addiction and they don't see the people behind it. That's really important to me that they understand that these are real people, not just addicts, but real people, real women.
Eric: What have you been able to see of the lives of the young people that you have spoken to about this?
Elizabeth: I have seen an understanding, is what I've seen, which is really important to me because so often they're just going back to the negative attitude that we discussed, about all addicts are like, blah, blah, blah. So when I actually speak and when I bring in my own experiences and the experiences of my fellows and I underline to them really all the women that worked the streets that I am the only one left alive. So I think it's really important for them to understand these things. One, one, my life should act as a warning, do not go there, that is not a good safe place to go, stay away. On the other side it also helps to get educated about issues, we understand more of what we can do to help and if we understand more of what we can do to help, then we can save more young lives. Then fewer women and men will turn up missing and dead.
Eric: That's true, that's true!
Elizabeth: So that is how I've chosen to use my experience.
Todd: Would you think they would be more receptive to hear it from you than obviously I could talk to them all day long. I grew up in a town you know honestly I never saw a prostitute before I was an adult. I never saw a homeless person, still don't. You know I live in a very small town in America these things are so foreign. It would be terrifying to go to a place where you saw them.
Todd: But you know I'm certainly not the one to be able to go and reach these people, not directly. I think that you're somebody I think that they would be more willing to listen to you because when you say I understand, I've been there where you're at.
Elizabeth: Yes, yes, yes. So I love to go to the college and university and talk to the young people, about it.
Todd: How often do you get to go do this?
Elizabeth: Pardon me?
Todd: How often do you get to go do this?
Elizabeth: I probably get to go about you know once a semester for a couple of courses, women's studies, sociology although I am trying to get law enforcement to let me in but so far I've haven't gotten there yet. Women's studies are very receptive and so has sociology been very receptive as well as some women's groups. I really think you know young people when they really understand a problem, when they see it, when they know more about it, then they'll do more to help.
Todd: Better understanding of it?
Elizabeth: Well, and they'll drop those negative attitudes. It's really important to drop those negative attitudes.
Todd: Well you understand that negative attitude when you say you're fully expecting a negative attitude, do you ever actually still encounter people on the street?
Elizabeth: Well here's the thing that I always find quite startling. Yes I wrote a book and yes I go out to speak and so when I go out and speak people say, wow that's so incredible that you came out and you're talking about it, did you tell your neighbor? I'm like, no I don't go out to my neighbor's home and say gee, knock, knock, knock, hi, I've lived next to you for the last so many years and did you know that I was a blank, blank, blank, no, I'm not going to do that. Why? Because there is still so much stigma attached to it. I really truly don't know how those people might react. And that says a whole lot to about how those negative attitudes can go through a whole lifetime. I still don't know what I might encounter.
Todd: Well that's true because there's still a lot of that going on you know even today even the resistance we saw even from the family's of these victims when we tried to do the sketches and tried to put them in a more positive light. I think it was misunderstood in so many different ways.
Elizabeth: Well like my own birth family was furious when I wrote this book. They were furious because I should have left it alone, I shouldn't have brought it up again.
Todd: Completely left it behind.
Elizabeth: Yes, kept it hidden.
Eric: Wait a minute, with all the accomplishments that you have made even to the point of authoring a book and they were furious?
Elizabeth: Absolutely, yes, oh yes, they were very angry, I should have just left it alone, and I should have let sleeping dogs lay.
Todd: It was the subject matter of the book more or less than anything else. I mean the book is an incredible accomplishment for anybody.
Elizabeth: Well thank you, thank you very much for that, you know I really need to hear that.
Todd: Well it is. You know for anybody to be able to do a book and be successful and actually completing it and then it actually being about something that is going to help other people and you have revisited a scary area to do this, is an incredible accomplishment. Now I don't think people actually truly appreciate it fully until after they've read it and they've realized wow, it's like you've saved yourself from a stormy sea yet you swim back in again to help somebody else and you know you could have just stayed on the shore safe and sound.
Elizabeth: I could have. I could have and certainly that would have been safer. But I think with what is going on with so many murderous rampages and killing of our young people, I think it's more important that people come forward.
Todd: Well do you think if your family, well have they read the book?
Todd: Even after?
Elizabeth: Even after.
Todd: Well you think you know, maybe they're victims, maybe it's just so hard for them, you know, you're obviously stronger than many, than most people are?
Elizabeth: Well, I think you go back to the stigma of prostitution and the stigma of addiction and you know that is really tough for most families.
Todd: It's normal to want to forget something that's not pleasant for you?
Elizabeth: You know on a certain level I do understand that, but I think it's also indicative of societal attitudes at large, which still carry a great amount of stigma in their judgments of you. I think there is very few people, well I wouldn't say very few. I would say actually I have been overjoyed by the fact that in almost everyone is overjoyed that I lived, that I redeemed myself. Do you understand what I mean?
Todd: It's classic.
Elizabeth: You know and that gives me joy, that they can see what an incredible effort that was because anybody who turns their live around, anybody who grabs a hold of that sword or that hand or whatever helps you out, it really is truly an effort to turn your life around. I like the story of the fishing because I have to say that and yes I did mention it in the book that it took me ten years before I actually stopped thinking about fixing. That's a long time, yeah, I mean it takes a long time to leave that all behind and fully, fully run forward to embrace what's coming, yeah!
Todd: Well I hope your family realizes you know maybe at some point in their life you are classically light from darkness.
Elizabeth: Well thank you.
Todd: You know you don't want to say good or evil because I don't think you were ever evil you were lost you were in the dark and chose light over the darkness and that is amazing and you survived it.
Elizabeth: I love that. I love the fact that you say lost, because I truly believe that so many of our young people on our streets are lost.
Todd: Well you were missing inside of your own mind.
Todd: You know and so many people are missing inside of their own minds, we talk about missing people that are physically missing but you know there are people, missing pieces right here.
Todd: You were actually missing with your own personality with your own demons. You were led astray.
Elizabeth: Yes, and I was lost and I did not know how to get back, I really didn't. I don't believe that I would be alive today if Jack had not offered his hand at that moment, at that time.
Todd: You said he was, I think you called him a hippie.
Elizabeth: Yeah he was.
Todd: That is usually not the normal person that you would want helping. From a parent you'd think I wouldn't want my child with that person because he did have this stuff available, that it was the lesser evil from what you were.
Elizabeth: That's right.
Todd: It allowed you to have a moment of clarity.
Elizabeth: Yes, yes and I took hold, I took hold of it. And I thanked him for it, and today when I think about it I think to myself well actually how many people would extend to a hand and say to a prostitute, a drug addicted prostitute, sure you can come and stay at my place? You know there are very few people who would ever do that. So, the mere fact that he did it, and ah, to me is the miracle, I mean, I like to say that angels, you never know what shape they might come in.
Todd: Well really, and if he hadn't of been the person he was, he might not have been so willing. You know he was that sort of that person who was in between.
Todd: He was able to reach over.
Elizabeth: He was the bridge.
Todd: The bridge that's perfect, that's perfect.
Elizabeth: Unfortunately Jack died when he was quite young, in a car accident and that's very sad. But I still think of him as my Angel.
Todd: Well now we say this every week, I'd like to have you back on this show and we say this about a lot of people but you know I definitely think there is a continued message with you and you know we're going to and we are in the planning stages of the twenty four hour marathon and you know we definitely want you to be one of the people that calls in and we will be in touch.
Elizabeth: Oh great!
Todd: In the meantime.
Elizabeth: I'd love to be involved.
Todd: You know we are going to have an audio archive of this show on air and we're hoping that you'll kind of put that out there so that people can come back and give it a listen. Your book sales, now how are your book sales?
Elizabeth: Oh I am in my second printing so.
Todd: Hey, now that's success.
Eric: The name of that book is 'Snow Bodies' One Woman's Life on the Streets?'
Eric: Okay, do you have a webpage?
Elizabeth: Ah, no I don't, but you can buy the book through Amazon.
Todd: And we'll provide a link on the 'MissingPieces.info' website to. Wayne Leng has a page dedicated to you on the MissingPeople website. So we will put that out there where people can actually see that book and it's easily found on the internet if anybody is looking. I can recommend reading it, and it's definitely an epic journey. I think you are continuing to have it. Do you see that?
Elizabeth: Yes, yes and I love the journey I'm on. That's all I can say.
Eric: Can I ask a question?
Eric: Since you have written the book are you actively involved in any particular cases?
Elizabeth: In any particular cases?
Eric: In any particular cases involving missing or murdered individuals?
Elizabeth: No I'm not. I wish I was.
Todd: Well we can help you with that.
Elizabeth: Oh good.
Todd: Well I've got a task for you with actually some of the discrepancies in the numbers in your area. Now there is a discrepancy from what I am seeing on the Doe Network website and another website based on the realities listed with the FBI NCIC and you're looking for content with law enforcement, I think I can possibly help you with that and you might be able to become a bridge. In fact I can think of no better bridge.
Elizabeth: Well, thank you. Thank you. I have always thought actually it would be a good thing for law enforcement, especially when prostitutes are found, to have somebody who knows about street prostitution to also go and have a look because I think they would see things that other people would not. I do. I really do.
Todd: I know you are going to be a bridge. You are already a bridge with the book you have. We definitely have got to reach these people and change the way these people are perceived as victims.
Todd: You know just like a wild cat you can't always just cloth it, pet it and feed it, you have to be careful how you do that.
Elizabeth: That's right. That's right.
Todd: It's not that easy. With a real cat I have actually tried to do that before. It's hard to tame a wild animal. A wild person, you know you just can't snatch them out of the street and say you know I'm going to save you today.
Todd: They have to be ready.
Elizabeth: They have to be ready. They have to be one thing. First of all, I had to drop my street slang because actually people who are on the street have a different dialect. They do speak differently than middle class folk do. So you have to drop that because you know what if you are in a middle class situation and you start using street talk, slang, people do look at you and think hum I wonder where they've been. I mean there are a lot of things you have to learn to do differently. From your speech to the way you dress to your attitudes, ah just a lot you have to relearn. I had to be re-socialized. Yes, I had to be re-socialized and that took a while. But, I'm quite tame now.
Todd: That's good, I like that term re-socialized. I don't know if you noticed or not but I have a southern accent?
Elizabeth: I love it.
Todd: But, you know a lot of people they will see a southern accent and they think uneducated. I don't know. You know there is a stigma with the redneck Americans, there really is, I've been asked in some interviews to speak Middle America. To try to speak more Middle American I think it's just so people will see you in a better light. I think that is what the overall idea was. I don't do that anymore, you are what you are, you are who you are.
Elizabeth: You are who you are. Yes, yes, but certainly for a street person, with that dialect yes, you want to succeed, if you want get good jobs, if you want to get ahead, if you want to make friends in your new environment, you still have to draw that because there is a lot of cursing and a lot of swearing that goes with it. It offends people. You can't go around and offend people if you want to fit in.
Todd: Oh yes, absolutely. You know you have to drop the offensive.
Todd: Well, I'm sure the FCC would love for us to take a list of all these words tonight and actually go down and name them individually, but guess we better skip that.
Eric: Beth you have been absolutely a wonderful guest.
Elizabeth: Oh, thank you so much.
Eric: I do believe that you have a lot more to say especially to a lot of young people that are out there and when I say young I'm not talking just about age.
Elizabeth: No, I know what you mean.
Eric: And people who have in fact lost their innocence from one thing or another doesn't always have to be drugs but whatever their drug of choice, you definitely spoke on that today.
Elizabeth: Oh thank you, I hope I have.
Eric: Appreciate you coming on, you know?
Elizabeth: Well thanks.
Todd: And you're drafted, you're drafted by the way so I'm definitely going to be in touch with you. I've got a couple of little tasks I'd like to try to work on with you before we bring you back.
Elizabeth: Sure, I'd love to.
Elizabeth: Set me up with it.
Eric: Keep in mind the fact like Todd was saying we are working on a twenty-four-hour marathon dealing with a lot of different issues and crime being one of them.
Eric: We want to keep you in mind because we surely would like to have you participate in that aspect.
Elizabeth: I'll look forward to it. I really will.
Todd: Now go work on your second book and your third printing on your first book.
Eric: What's the second book called?
Elizabeth: My second book, well I've not finished it yet.
Todd: I'm having to tease her, I'm having to tease her, but I know she's working on one.
Elizabeth: Yes, I am, I am. I haven't gotten too far into it because I've found the speeches that I do and the things that I do and of course I work full time and it's tough. To have that alone time that you need to write.
Elizabeth: Yeah, I've been finding that very difficult to get that alone time. Yeah, because I'm so busy. But busy is good.
Todd: It is really good. Well when I get my autographed copy of your second book.
Elizabeth: Oh you will definitely get it.
Eric: Well ladies and gentleman the clock on the wall does says, that's all. I want to say goodnight to each of you and wish each of you a good holiday season. Go ahead stay tuned to WCAN, you'll enjoy the rest of the show. We've got a marathon of music, an extravaganza of music, holiday music, so we want you to continue to enjoy that. But thanks for coming on the line. Ah, Todd we're looking forward to seeing you next Tuesday.
Todd: I'm ready to go. We've got another exciting hour lined up and it was great talking to both of you tonight and Happy Holidays to everybody listening.
Elizabeth: Merry Christmas all, thanks Todd.
Todd: Thank you.
Elizabeth: Thanks, bye.
Todd: Bye, bye.