A Human Trafficking Survivor’s Journey
Not sure when I realized there was hope.
Maybe in the same breath, I realized this wasn’t the life I wanted.
Maybe it was when I saw the small joys of life,
Making steps in a world I didn’t know or understand.
Going from a life where I felt I had friends, belonged – accepted even with all my faults.
I was made to feel special,
Yet I accepted my
And constantly being forced to do things people should not have to do to survive.
Then entering a world where people were nice to me, outside of the traumas of trafficking.
But were they being nice?
What these new people wanted for me, from me, I couldn’t accomplish.
Most didn’t leave my side,
My journey from being a victim of human trafficking to a survivor of human trafficking,
To thriving in life.
They saw past the dark circles of my eyes,
Wondering who the person behind those dark brown eyes really was.
What were they seeing beyond my dark sadness?
I didn’t choose that life, the life in the “game”.
I was picked out of the crowd.
The quiet, nice, shy one who wanted to belong and be loved.
My idea of love and acceptance
Was not what other people could understand.
You’d have to be trafficked to understand the type of “love” and “acceptance” I understood.
No words could be discussed.
I had been through something and now…
Since I had no visible wounds, bruises, no addiction,
I should be just fine.
Simply, “Get over it,” people would tell me.
It was the choices I made,
But did I really make those choices?
A series of bad choices when all I had were bad choices to choose from,
Like dominoes falling.
The storm started years before I was sex and labor trafficked.
The criminality behind sex trafficking,
The money that is made through drugs,
Buying businesses for money,
Laundering for the cartel out of
Once I was in so deep, the writing was on the wall.
I made my bed
So. Lie. In. It.
There is no way out. This is my life,
Just surviving day to day.
Looking back now,
I would dream of a life where I was loved,
Full of laughter,
Simply sitting on a mountaintop with the
Sun shining on my face,
Freedom from the control.
Crazy, I thought people could decide what they wanted to wear!
What they wanted to eat!
When they wanted to get their hair/nails done!
Smile, I was told.
You need to put on that happy face and perform.
You know what happens when you don’t listen.
The flood of memories always reentering my new life.
Back and Forth.
I was free.
Hope didn’t come when I returned home.
Maybe hope was there, and I just couldn’t see it yet.
I needed help,
Guidance to know what I was experiencing was a normal response to traumatic events,
Over and over again.
Understanding it was ok
To still have feelings for my trafficker,
The bond was strong but would never return.
Rewire my brain,
Surround myself with those who wanted nothing from me,
Gain my self-esteem
And esteem of others.
I needed help when no help was available.
Took too many years.
I pray no victims
Will ever have to wait that long,
To be identified.
I pray you’re gifted with a person saying, “You are worth it.
You are not the shivering dog in the corner, waiting for attention/affection.
You are a child of God, who loves you.”
The day I surrendered is the day there was hope.
I stopped fighting the words in my brain,
Fighting others around me to be heard,
To simply let go,
I remember laying on the floor,
Arms spread wide apart,
Asking God to take all I have as I belong to Him.
Take everything because my life is simply too much.
I don’t belong, I am unlovable, unwanted.
But God said, “No,
You are loved and you are My daughter.”
Hope is in the form of love.
It’s in the form of the people who God places in your life,
Who stay when the days are dark.
But light will shine through.
Many have left, many have stayed.
But this form of hope came in others.
When I saw life outside the walls I had built up,
Letting others in who truly only expected of me
What I could do at the time.
Brings about change, focus, acceptance,
And what the future holds.
I am no longer that shivering dog in the corner,
To other victims of human trafficking.