Survivors of sex and labor trafficking are resilient and the true experts in the anti-human trafficking field. They teach us about some of the risk factors that contributed to their situations of trafficking so we can improve our prevention efforts. We are grateful to all the brave survivors who have shared, hoping that other potential victims can learn from their stories. There is support available if these stories make you concerned about yourself or others.
All alone in a big city at 15, I started to seek that love and acceptance that I wasn’t getting from my parents. I found it online with a 36-year-old man who I eventually formed a relationship with in real life.
I was trafficked for 10 years. My trafficker controlled if I ate and when. She decided where I slept and for how long.
Looking back now, I do think that the men took advantage of a youth in a vulnerable spot by purchasing access to my body. I see that there were opportunities for me to have been identified — by teachers or medical professionals — but I wasn’t. Instead, I was treated like a throwaway.
I thought I was in control. I thought I was making these decisions. I thought this man wanted what was best for me and wanted to help me. It never crossed my mind that I was being used as bait, having unprotected sex with countless men for HIS profit.
The last time I was sex-trafficked it was January 2010. I was a senior in high school and my trafficker controlled me for nine months of the school year.
I knew that if I didn’t leave now, I would not be able to keep my son safe. My life meant nothing to me but his life meant everything.
My employer took away my passport, locked me in the house and disconnected the phone whenever she left home. I was made to sleep on the basement floor. I was so isolated from the outside world that I had no idea there was help available.
My abuser forced me to post ads online, pay the phone bills and get his cars fixed. Those actions were enough to land me in prison. I am still facing many hardships and I’m still being punished for being exploited.
I was convinced and afraid that if I talked, someone would hurt me or worse. I felt so trapped; the police wanted to get me and my trafficker wanted to get me.
I started being taken to other states against my will and became a high earner for my traffickers. The abuse I went through in those 4 years, was worse than the lifetime of abuse I had endured up to that point.
In the wrong hands, love is a powerful weapon of exploitation. Read survivors’ stories and learn the difference between what love isn’t and what trafficking is.
Polaris’s National Survivor Study learned directly from survivors of sex and labor trafficking about what they have experienced and what they need to heal. Watch survivors’ stories and learn the challenges they face after exiting their trafficking situation.
The majority of human trafficking suvivors report having some kind of criminal record as a result of being trafficked. Watch survivors’ stories to hear the difficulties they face in clearing their unjust criminal record and how those records make it hard to heal and rebuild their lives.
Share Your Story
Your story is powerful. When survivors share their experiences, people listen and things change. If you are interested in being part of that process, we’d love to hear from you.