I’ve been involved in fighting human trafficking on a federal level, and supporting victims in safe houses in Mexico. But I could never shake the belief that the victims were in part responsible for the situation they found themselves in. My attitude changed when I heard the testimony of a victim.
One evening I took a group of college students to a safe home of 20+ victims who have been trafficked for sex, and now are in hiding from the men who once owned them. I had been to the safe home many times before and knew many of the girls, but had only interacted with them in a group setting.
One of the college students from the USA was trying to connect with two of the girls. She asked me to translate. As I heard the stories of these girls it broke my heart. At the age of 13 one of the girls met a older guy in a park. He was friend for several years before their friendship turned into a relationship. He was kind to her, and over the years he would walk her home from school on most days. When their relationship started he asked her to move from their small town to Mexico City to start a life together. She quickly agreed, and within several weeks as a 15-year old she dropped out of school, left her family, and moved to Mexico City with her boyfriend.
Upon arriving in Mexico City she was shocked when her boyfriend told her what she needed start selling her body so they would have money. Whenever she refused she would be beaten, and told that if she ran away her family would be harmed. She was trapped, and alone. She said that she grew up in a Christian home, and never would she have imagined doing the things she was forced to do. She had no choice.
One morning she looked at herself in the mirror and made a decision to leave this guy and seek safety. The next day she approached a policeman on the street. Fortunately the policeman was not corrupt and took her to the safe house where she was living in hiding before being reunited with her family.
Our Fundaction Revive staff spend a day in the safe house each week. Part of their counseling and therapy with the girls is to have them draw pictures. Most the pictures the victims of sex trafficking draw speak of the heartbreak of being betrayed, and hopeless, and of the dream someday of having a family.