Life After Trafficking, part 4 The Trauma Continues
Hello and welcome back! This has been the hardest post for me to write in this series, because there is so much pain buried inside my story. I struggled with finding the right words to say, and how to say them in a way that does not come across as bitter or angry. Then I saw a quote, that brought it all to me. “I’ve never met a strong person with an easy past”- source unknown. That’s what this post is all about. And that’s what this series is about. We must understand the past of survivors, but also know that they need to channel that into positive strength for a strong future. If they don’t then bad things will continue to happen
When this picture was taken I would have never imagined the journey that I would take. This girl was so full of hope. She was young, beautiful, naïve, and although she had seen her share of bad experiences she still believed that being a good person, would bring you good fortune. Today, that girl is a woman who has survived evils that many would rather believe do not exist. She is a survivor who wears her battle scars with honor, knowing that although they may hurt and bear memories that are unsurmountable at times, they also bring an ironclad strength. I had to find that strength to move on.
I spent a long time in limbo between trafficking and taking my life back and even after regaining a relatively normal existence, my own inexperience with navigating in the real world left me prone to deception and backstabbing. One thing I never imagined is that I would become a public figure. It is certainly something that I never sought out. As my story began to spread around the advocacy circles I began to get more attention. It was an exciting time for me. I had gone so long with only getting negative attention. I was asked to talk about my story across the globe. When I was first approached to have a film about my life, I was pleased that my life story would be that interesting outside of the cause. I was happy for anything that was going to tell my story and possibly help another girl somewhere else.
What I didn’t know was how to negotiate event riders, contracts, life rights, payment, or any of the things that I needed to know to properly negotiate deals. When I was approached by non-profit organizations I let them use my image and attach to my story. Money wasn’t my objective. My objective was to bring attention to the women and girls who are being trafficked daily. I was in a vulnerable position and was taken advantage of. And the more visible my persona became, the more prone to fraud I became.
I was initially going to write about all of the different experiences that I had related to continued trauma from the felony conviction, to being misled to signing away the rights to tell my life story on film, and of course being extorted by a non-profit that claims to do work against sex trafficking. I have decided that I’m not going to go into detail about each instance here. There is a time and a place for that, and I will tell those stories in the future. But that is not what today is about. The purpose of this series is to bring awareness to a larger issue in the world of human trafficking. There are struggles that women who have endured sex trafficking have to face.
It doesn’t end when we are rescued, trauma doesn’t slow down when we are placed in a shelter, without proper coping skills, education and consistent support network the revolving door of exploitation continues. I am here today to take a stand and say that I will no longer be pushed into a hole and made to feel like a victim. I control my destiny, and I am not a victim. I am an overcomer trend-setter. I will fight every day for the women and children who have to endure the same struggles that I have experienced. And the best thing that I can do at this time is to continue to use my personal experience to create adequate change, positive movements and to empower the lives of our fellow victors. Let us not continue the revolving door of exploitation.
Thank you for joining me this week. I look forward to the work that we have to do together.