How did you become involved in the movement against sex trafficking and sexual exploitation?
Unfortunately, I was trafficked at the age seventeen by a co-worker who was forty years old. I was in that situation while still attending high school, until I was nineteen. During that time, I was forced to do unthinkable things and experienced extreme sexual violation through manipulation and brainwashing while participating in his ‘art project’. I didn’t find out until years later that what I was actually doing was pornography.
What draws you to support people who are trafficked and sexually exploited?
While I was being trafficked, I had no idea that it was trafficking. The reason I had no idea was because there was no awareness of what trafficking was. My situation began in 2003 and although the law regarding human trafficking was established in 2000, there was still no awareness about the grooming and manipulation tactics used by traffickers. This was how I was able to fall under the control of one.
Since I was trafficked, I entered a program called Mercy Ministries that offers a free residential program for young women who struggle with life controlling issues stemming from things such as sex trafficking. Whilst in their program, I gained much restoration and life skills and I am continuing my journey as an overcomer, not a survivor.
What does your work involve?
Now that I have gained restoration, I have a heart to bring awareness to the public – specifically at-risk youth. I want to bring an end to unawareness and promote education as a method of prevention. Since the program at Mercy Ministries worked for me, I now serve as a consultant to organizations by developing curriculums in their safe houses. Recently, I have taken more of a focus on legislative issues and passing bills to implement laws that criminalize pimps and traffickers.
What legal improvements or changes would help to abolish human trafficking and sexual exploitation?
We need to stop looking at the victim as the criminal and start criminalizing the johns (buyers), pimps and traffickers. We need to increase sentencing and expose the names of the johns. If we execute a plan in this manner, we will also succeed in granting the victim a more promising future by not charging them with felonies and misdemeanours associated with drug use and prostitution. By exposing the names of the johns, pimps and traffickers, fewer will engage in this crime out of fear of exposure and ruining their reputation – this especially applies to the johns, which means the demand for sex-trafficking victims will be reduced.
For anyone else who wants to be involved, what can other people do to help?
Start talking about this to everyone you meet. If I knew the signs concerning human trafficking, I would not have fallen victim to it. The more people who are informed, the fewer victims we have.
Also, learn how to identify it. Where is it typically found? What are common places that can easily be disguised? An example of this is how massage parlours are most often disguises for prostitution.
Although awareness is essential, fundraising for organizations is definitely needed too. Host a bake sale or a yard sale and donate the proceeds to a local organization building a safe house. Although we are gaining a high amount of governmental support, the general public has the greatest ability to rescue lives, create resources and operate transitional care programs.
Another opportunity to get involved is to sign petitions to pass to legislation. We may not have the government’s help for everything, but we do need them to pass laws so we can incarcerate the traffickers, pimps and johns.
Whether it be simply writing a check or telling your friends about human trafficking, you can do something to help – everyone can.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m currently completing my bachelor’s degree in sociology with a concentration in criminology at an American university. Recently, I’ve become more involved in the legislative efforts to combat human trafficking and am considering going to law school. I’ve been travelling where God leads me, sharing my testimony and bringing awareness about this hellacious issue. I plan to continue to do that as I continue my journey as an advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves.
Recommended websites/further reading:
My personal links: