I’m a Human Trafficking Survivor, This is my Story

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The following interview contains details that could be hard for some readers.

This article was presented anonymously by the request of the writer.  

I remember being picked up off a hotel bed by superman. He didn’t wear a cape, but he was very tall and strong. I was somewhat cognitive of what was going on around me. I was coming to, but it was all still blurry. I had been unconscious for I’m not sure how long. I opened my eyes and there he was, like a glowing giant. He gave me a rosary, I still have it, even 6 years later. He told me to always hug it if I was scared, and everytime I did that, it reassured me everything was okay. 

This was in Washington D.C. in 2014. I’m not from there, i’m from North Carolina, but that’s where I ended up. I didn’t go there by choice, I was forced. The man who rescued me worked with the F.B.I., and I found out later they had been following the man who was holding me by force for quite some time. Before I was choked unconscious that day, he made me get in the car with him to go somewhere. Would have been a perfect time to run, and believe me I thought about it, but he always had a gun on him. He also had my I.D., with my home address on it, and I was scared he would hurt my family if I got away. 

During the ride, me and my captor were stopped by police. However, they let us go. This was some sort of oversight the agents couldn’t seem to wrap their heads around. They had been tracking his phone GPS, and they said the police should have held us there until they arrived, but they didn’t. They were not happy about this. Had it ended there, it would have saved me a bruise to the back of my throat where he put his fist. All I care about now though, is the fact I got out, because I didn’t think it was going to happen. 

After I was rescued, I was taken to Saint Mary’s Hospital in D.C. Since I was a minor, my guardian was notified and had to travel to the F.B.I. office in Fredericksburg, Virginia to pick me up. I was relieved, it was finally over. I was also scared though, would people judge me for what I went through? 

The PTSD I had to live with was brutal. For days they drugged the girls with coke and other things to keep us awake and “working.” For days I wasn’t allowed to eat. I had lost so much weight when I came home, I’m pretty sure my stomach shrunk. I cried in every restaurant I went in for weeks, because the food was so good, and I wanted it fresh, but I couldn’t eat more than a few bites and I was full. My clothes were too big. I’d have spurts of anger and punch a hole through the wall. I didn’t mean to cause damage, but I was so lost and angry, it was hard sometimes to deal with. 

The PTSD got so bad, I couldn’t be alone. I was scared. Every place I went, I saw someone who looked familiar. I asked so many men to help me. I didn’t want to be there, I was forced. I was underage. They said they would help me, but they never came back. It made me not trust men. And so, when I came home, I saw these men in every man. You see a lawyer, I see a pedophile. You see a doctor, I see a pedophile. The men who came in that room had all kinds of professions, all backgrounds, ethnicities, and none helped me.

The F.B.I. pushed me to testify. They told me the reason this happened to me was because he was on the street, and he should have been locked up for life a long time ago because he did the same thing to another person. She was too scared to testify though, and within a short time, he was out of jail and back doing the same thing. They told me I could prevent this from happening to someone else. My testimony would give enough evidence they could put him away for a long time, but I was so scared. At first, I said yes, because I thought my family would make me. Eventually though, I did say I was scared, and didn’t want to testify. Of course the agents were upset, but I had to do what was best for me, I matter too. 

I decided I wanted to deal with the PTSD. I went to a locked facility for underage youth, by choice. Being in a locked facility helped me to focus myself and what I wanted in the future. I knew in there I was safe, and I was able to clean my body inside and out. I gained weight, I looked good. I was able to receive counseling, and therapy. My friends and family came everyday to see me. My mentor came with a boombox that she plugged in the wall, pulled out her latest motivational CD, and we listened while she occasionally chimed in about spirit being on my side. 

Being in the facility brought up a lot of old emotions I needed to deal with. It was now or never. I can break the cycle now, heal, and move forward, or be stuck in limbo forever. I didn’t have the best times growing up. My mom suffered a mental breakdown when I was young, and her in-laws were hell bent on taking her kids away. There was no evidence of neglect. My mom was very loving and always provided us with more than what we needed. It’s like they saw her light and just wanted to crush it. They were awful people. But unfortunately they did win custody, only because my moms side of the family wasn’t notified about custody proceedings. It was all done really in secret. Life for me got really hard after that. 

I was taken out of my community, away from everyone I knew. I wasn’t allowed to talk to my family on the phone, someone always had to listen in. I wasn’t able to ask for help. I had friends at school but no one was allowed over and I was never allowed to go anywhere. I had to cover bruises when I was in gym class. I would get written up for not changing out into my uniform. No one knew, I never told anyone.

One day I trusted my school counselor, and I told her some things I was going through there, still scared to tell the whole truth. She said “I know them, and they’re really good people. There’s no sense In you spreading a lie like that, you need counseling. I’m calling them and letting them know.” 

I will NEVER forget that beating when I got home, right off the school bus. 

I started seeing a counselor on a regular basis. I remember sitting in her waiting room, preparing. I wasn’t allowed to have sessions alone, my grandmother always sat in. Today was the day I wanted to ask for help, but I couldn’t without being alone. I formed a plan. While sitting in the waiting room, I asked to go to the bathroom. On the way I knocked on my counselors door and dropped a note on her desk. That note contained many difficult details of my life at that moment. I went to the bathroom and took a deep breath. I started crying because I knew she wasn’t going to believe me. I dried my eyes and walked back to the waiting room. 

When she called us back, this time it was different. She seperated us into different rooms. Next thing I know they are screaming at me and they leave. I didn’t know what to think, my whole mind went blank. Was it really over? Could I finally breathe? 

Eventually my counselor gets a call, she takes her glasses off and puts both hands on her head and buries her elbows into her desk. My heart starts pounding because all I can think about is fear. With tears in her eyes she says to me “I’m so sorry, there’s nothing I can do, they’re coming back to get you.” My heart sank. I had a panic attack. I couldn’t breathe. I could feel my head getting lighter and lighter, I could barely hear her voice. I came back and I could barely walk or talk or even move my arms. I felt really weak. 

She knew I wasn’t lying; she knew I had been through it all. They came in with smirks on their faces, grabbed me up and tossed me into the car. They took me to eat pizza. No words. No one talked. I got home and I just knew I needed to get ready for whatever beating was going to come my way. I went straight to my room. They never came in. I woke up the next morning and they hated me. The sight of me made them sick. 

At that point in my life I had been kicked in my ribs, given a broken arm, hit in the head, on top of emotional abuse among other things. AT THAT POINT I WAS DONE. I had just healed from a broken arm. Later that day she attacked me, I called the police. When they came I told them what she had done that day to me. The cops response to me was “you’re lucky, I used to get a tobacco stick thrown across my head everyday,” and then laughed, as if any of this was a joke. 

I was mad at this point. So mad because I was hurting inside. All I knew was HATE. FEAR. TORTURE. Some things I will never talk about. But that day hurt me the most. People that are supposed to help you, they turned their backs on me. I tried after that day to do whatever I could to just get away. I was fearful at first but I soon had a fire under my ass. 

I’ll never forget, on Valentine’s Day I came home from school to Edible Arrangements on the table for me from my sibling. They took them and threw them on the floor, then hit me in my face. I looked at them with no more fear in my eyes. I was done. I ran for my room, grabbed the phone and locked my door. I called my sibling and told them what had just happened. Said I was ready to leave. I was brave enough. I put the phone back. 

Moments later my sibling calls and tells them they’re coming to pick me up, and plan on getting a lawyer to get custody of me. My grandma was so angry at me, she came towards me and I told her if she touched me I had evidence of all the pills she made me take. I never understood her. She wanted me there, but didn’t want me to be cognitive of what was going on around me. She didn’t want me to question anything. She didn’t want me to fight back. So she took pills from her prescriptions and made me take them. They kept me docile. I told her I had evidence of her giving them to me. I had taken photos. She stopped. She knew she had been beaten. I wish I would have gotten the courage up sooner. 

My sibling arrived and took me away. Our lawyer was able to win the case for us, so I never had to go back to them. They met their karma. The universe doesn’t allow you to be a monster to other people and not face the karma from it. They had a series of unfortunate events, but to me it was the universe balancing the wrongs. 

I got enrolled in school, made great friends. Made really great memories until D.C. happened. Even after that though, I think I learned a lot about how strong I am. Now I am a powerhouse. I know I can deal with anything. I’m no longer scared to face the music that comes with breaking the cycle. 

I now have a toddler, and I teach him how to be gentle, kind and appreciative. I teach him to work in tandem with the universe and spirit. My life is good now. I have a loving partner, and a strong sense of self. 

They will never have to fear the consequences of everything they did to me in flesh and blood, one has passed away. But they will in their afterlife. I know that. 

Many family members turned their backs on me since I came out with my truth. I know what happened. I’m not telling my story for sympathy, only for strength. 

If you’re going through any type of abuse, never give up hope.


A continuation of this story will be published in April 2020.

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  1. Bridget Rosenstock

    As an ED nurse and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, this story is all too familiar. Children and teens presenting with injuries that don’t match the stories. Minors presenting with STDs and genital injuries that tell the story are too common. Victims would apologize, saying it was their fault (never). Worse were the silent children who spoke with their eyes and drawings while scrutinizing if I was trustworthy. We must listen and hear their stories to develop strategies for intervention, prevention, and prosecution. Victim Advocate programs are invaluable. Counseling for survivors, especially children, is critical.

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