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Statement by Human Trafficking Survivor, "Stephanie," at 2013 State Ratings Launch

“Stephanie” is a young survivor of human trafficking who works with our Client Services team. Below is the statement she delivered during the launch of the 2013 State Ratings on Human Trafficking Laws.

August 14, 2013 — “There are things in our past that find a way into our present. As much as we may wish they wouldn’t. As a minor I found myself a victim of a sexual predator. After almost a decade I still find myself struggling to rise above the things that happened to me.”

“Ever since exiting the life, I’ve made it my mission to better myself. I pushed myself through school and attained my Bachelors Degree. I worked for organizations which specialize in continuing the effort to prevent and service victims of the sex industry. In the present time I continue my efforts at pursuing a better future, however I still remain a victim. I have to constantly live in fear of being denied on job applications because of my record. I deal with anxiety about possibly needing to explain the circumstances surrounding my convictions and how others will treat me as a result.”

“Besides affecting my personal life with my family, friends and relationships, I struggle with the stigmas people associate with the lifestyle. It’s not always a conscious choice to enter this life. More often than not victims are coerced or forced by someone who took advantage of their vulnerability.”

“As much as I try to tell myself that I am better than those who victimized me; I often feel like I’m stagnant and unworthy of achieving a life and career of my choosing. Those feelings will remain as long as these laws remain. It’s difficult to overcome trauma but even more so when there are constant reminders and you’re treated like a criminal. It is my goal to become successful in my field of study but sometimes it feels hopeless.”

“Within the last few months a new law passed in NJ has given me faith in the justice system again. Open cases can be dropped and even expunged. This is great news for others which are going through similar circumstances as I am. Hopefully no one else will have to wait almost ten years to fully put these events to rest such as I have. Other states following NJ’s example will provide much less stress and anxiety to those who are already going through so much–trying to reinvent themselves and transcend into not just being average but being great.”

Go here for more information on the 2013 State Ratings on Human Trafficking Laws:

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Need help? Polaris operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline.