Editors Note This survivor preferred to remain anonymous in her photos. From her story, you can see she has survived nearly a lifetime of human trafficking and domestic violence.
Please share what happened to you.
My story and my life have been hell for 25 years. If it weren’t for my adoptive mother, I wouldn’t be here today to tell my story at all. It wasn’t law enforcement or an advocate that saved me it was the person I call mom and she deserves all the credit in the world.
My story started at a really young age; it was more than domestic violence; it was child sex trafficking. I did not know that then, I thought it was normal after a while. Multiple guys a day – starting as a child – being sold for years. There was drugs and beatings and a world of threats. I never fought back; my traffickers were supposed to be my family. This went on my whole life until the age of 15 when I met my ex-husband. I thought I was getting away from the abuse, but it was far from the truth. My original trafficker and he were best friends, it only got worse, I married him when he was 24, and me just a kid. The trafficking and the abuse continued for years. My ex-husband tried to murder me five years ago, leaving for dead on the side of the road.
I lost my daughter that day, I was 39 weeks pregnant. The crazy part even after that happened, I stayed with them because I had nowhere to go and the threat to be killed was very valid. I never thought in a million years I was ever going to get out. I honestly felt I was just better off dead, or I was just good at being a slave. When I finally got the courage to tell someone I was terrified, but she believed me. She took me in as her own and taught me that someone cares. Even though the threats are still there, and I will never forget. I am a year out, have an amazing family and even going to school to help others. After all the trauma I am excited for my new life.
How are you now?
After a year of being out it is honestly one of the hardest things. I am so blessed to get this second chance but being traumatized for so long takes a toll on you. I have complex PTSD and every day I just strive to survive. One thing that has been the hardest is dealing with law enforcement who are not helpful and scary. Also, housing is a major concern. When you come out of something so severe as my story. There is nowhere safe for you to go. Which then makes it hard to get a job. One thing about my story, I never had to worry about never having a place to go and now I do. It is terrifying not knowing where you are going to be. I am still very blessed and honored to have my support system they make me stronger every day.
What would you tell the world about Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking?
I will start off by saying that Domestic Violence and Human trafficking happens more than people realize.
It can happen if you are a child, woman, or a man. As much as people know about domestic violence, human trafficking is rarely talked about. A lot of times when people think about human trafficking, they assume that we’re prostitutes and willing participants but, in all actuality, we are forced into this lifestyle. As a survivor of both human trafficking and domestic violence I believe that awareness is a major key. There needs to be more training for those who work with us victims on complex trauma and willingness to understand that all our cases are different circumstances and dangers. There is also very good advocates and case managers out here, you have to be willing to drop everything to save your life to be free. In the mind of a survivor that is very hard to understand the word free. Domestic Violence and Human trafficking change the lives of everyone involved, the danger never leaves you, but you can decide on your own how you want to live with the trauma. You finally make your own choices. That is where I am, I am so glad I made the stand and now standing up for other victims as well. I am willing to stand up for those who do not have a voice. I will use mine to be the voice of domestic violence and Human trafficking. I am not a victim anymore; I am a survivor.