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. These are some of their stories.
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.
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.
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.
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.