“I was trafficked by a family member for food and other basic needs. While this was happening, I was being sexually abused by other family members. This went on for almost 10 years before I finally revealed a little of what was happening at home. DHR was called in, then they left me at my school in Baldwin County to talk with my family. I sat in the office shaking because I had no idea what was going to happen next. I knew if I was sent home my trafficker could kill me. I had broken a major rule. I had talked. I did not know what was going to happen to me in foster care because two generations before me came through foster care. and they became my traffickers and abusers. I felt hopeless and lifeless.
Aging out of care and graduating from high school were frightening. While everyone else was excited for their future in college and their careers, I was wondering where I was going to live, and how I was going to eat. I tried college, but failed my classes because I could not keep up. There was not much time given to studies during elementary, middle and high school. I was too worried about surviving. It is hard to focus on school when you are fighting off grown adults, looking for food or if you are going to have a home when you come home from school. I had complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) with flashbacks and nightmares that became unbearable
I ended up marrying to stay off the street. Marriage was difficult. So was motherhood. It wasn’t long before I ended up doing dangerous things. We struggled financially and money and food were triggers for me. I started walking late at night and putting myself in dangerous situations.
When I started at the Rose Center, I threw my life into their hands. I didn’t care if they helped or hurt me. I was done. But there I found food love, safety, value and a future. They are helping me break the cycle of abuse so my children will not be the fourth generation in foster care. The Rose Center has become my family — my people I do life with. I’m so blessed and honored God brought me to them.”
This is one of the survivor stories in the five-part series “Sexual Slavery in South Alabama” that I wrote for Lagniappe. The is from the first story that is in the weekly paper right now. It is also online at www.Lagniappemobile.com. Sex trafficking happens everywhere, in every community, and it is not what you think. Thank you to the victims and survivors who walked through their own hell one more time to share their stories to raise awareness and maybe save someone else from going through the same thing.