“I was trafficked for 10 years. My trafficker controlled if I ate and when. She decided where I slept and for how long.”
When I was 18, I took a joy ride in my mom’s car. She called the cops, I was arrested, and sent to a faith-based dorm. That’s where I met my trafficker. She was pregnant at the time and she befriended me. We met for lunch after I got out and I really thought we were friends. I now know I was being groomed by her.
I was trafficked for 10 years. My trafficker controlled if I ate and when. She decided where I slept and for how long.
My experience with police during that period was entirely negative and I absolutely did not trust law enforcement. I have since worked with caring law enforcement professionals and I know they are out there, but at the time I never would have asked for help from them. When people ask, why didn’t you just call the cops and leave? I tell them, this is why. Many times, off-duty officers forced me to perform sex acts by threatening to arrest me.
At one point we were living in an extended stay hotel. This was almost two years and the owner definitely knew what was going on. My trafficker knew someone in the local sheriff’s department and whenever a raid was coming, we would know and slip out.
Overall, I was convicted 23 times for prostitution and related charges. The police knew who I was and what was happening but they did not listen or talk to me. They harassed me, made fun of me and acted disrespectfully. They would say “oh, she’s doing this because she’s an addict.” They didn’t understand that my trafficker used drugs to force me into sex trafficking.
When I did try to leave my trafficker always managed to stop me. The last time, in 2012, I had packed all my stuff and was going to meet a chaplain that I had met at jail who was going to take me to a safe house.
Instead, my trafficker showed up with five men, took me somewhere, locked me in, then managed to get me thrown back in jail.
It was there I finally decided that I had enough. I was tired of life and wasn’t sure I wanted to live. I said to myself, “If I share my story, maybe that will be one less girl, one less Aubree who has to go through this.”
I have been helping people get out of the life ever since I got out. Often I do that with help from the Trafficking Hotline.
Many times, we call the hotline for support, for someone to listen to our story. We are not always at the right place to leave, both physically and mentally. If I called the hotline and was told that we may have to report your information to the police, I would have dropped the call or maybe not called at all. It feels like deception.
There are many times we call because we just want someone to be there for us. When we have literally nothing – we can have that 5 minutes of someone listening to us, that caring and human connection.
But if I were to find out that the conversation is all documented and being passed on to the police, the conversation would be over.
When I finally got out, an officer from the sheriff’s department actually listened to me and cared about my story. I even flew back to Florida to be a part of the deposition. I made the choice and I was able to tell my story on my terms. I told my story because if it reaches just one Aubree, reaches just one person and helps them avoid a similar situation, that will be enough.
– Aubree Alles