"Strength through adversity"
It has taken me over 40 years to break my silence; I finally feel strong enough to be able to share my story, to reach out to others and hopefully help them in some way by sharing my experiences. I believe that first should be awareness and education and only then can any policy or legislation begin to change.
I was abused and afterwards there was no help, validation or therapy for the traumas of the abuse so I eventually stopped even trying to tell my mother. I felt like nothing I did mattered, I didn’t want to go to school or talk to my friends, I felt like I was never good enough or pretty or as smart as the other girls my age. And because I received no validation or therapy for the abuse I suffered, my self-esteem plummeted into nothingness and I became a walking target for traffickers and predators. I believe it is so important to first validate a child’s abuse, and second get them the therapy and help they need. Listen to them.
The summer I turned twelve years old I ran away from my suburban Virginia home. I ran away from home to escape the abuse, and I continued to run away from home dozens and dozens of times between the ages of twelve and thirteen. Sometimes the police would find me and bring me home, or they would take me to detention centers, reform schools and hospitals. I was treated as a juvenile delinquent, and a child who was uncontrollable, never as a young girl who needed assistance or help.
Not once was the abuse I had suffered in my home ever addressed. Because I never received any treatment, it was so easy for predators, pimps and traffickers, who seem to have uncanny radar to seek out damaged children, to force me into trafficking.
One time after I ran away, a couple found me hungry, cold and in need of shelter on the streets of Washington, D.C. They picked me up and groomed me for prostitution. I was barely thirteen years old.
After weeks of being trafficked by them in Washington D.C., they sold me to another trafficker who drove me to New York. I was sold like a piece of furniture right on the streets of our nation's capitol.
I was trafficked by the person who bought me in D.C. over nine horrific trauma filled years, forced to sell my body on the streets of New York City. I tried to leave him several times, once even making my way all the way back to my home in Virginia, but I never really succeeded. He always came after me and brought me back to New York.
I grew up while being trafficked.
While I was trafficked on the streets of New York City I was beaten, raped, robbed, jailed and even taken to Rikers Island Prison. I was arrested dozens of times, I had been programmed to tell the police that I was eighteen or twenty one years old and to never give them my real name and the police never asked me my real name or my real age anyway. For this reason I believe that training for police and law enforcement is so very important because they are the ones that are out there in the streets along with the victims.
During the time I spent on the streets being trafficked I went to jail numerous times, I was raped, and robbed and at deaths door more times than I can count, although I was the victim, I got a criminal record.
The pimp who was trafficking me was never arrested. The police would come through the streets and round up dozens of women and girls, never the pimps and traffickers, they would take us all down to the station. The man that trafficked me was never arrested for trafficking, though he did die in prison in 1995, where he was incarcerated for drug charges.
I am in the process of vacating the criminal record I got while I was trafficked, because I was in New York. New York is one of the states which allow survivors of trafficking to vacate criminal convictions. The other states at this time are, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont, Washington State, Maryland and
I write a column in the Washington Times and I post links to my articles in my blog here on this site.
For me sharing my story and my experiences are a political statement. I will not be silent or anonymous, I am no longer ashamed of my past and I look forward to a future where the evil of modern day slavery no longer exists.
If you or someone you know is being trafficked and need help please contact POLARIS