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My Story of Surviving Sex Trafficking: How I Found Freedom & Healing

by | Apr 11, 2023 | Leadership Development, Restoration

“Now I lay me down to sleep; I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” With childlike faith and a plea for mercy, I continued the rote refrain with my own desperate prayer. “Please, please, Lord, just let me die before I wake. Please don’t make me wake up again.”

Some might call it morbid. Others, with great compassion, might hear an anguished child’s cry for escape from sex trafficking.

My Story of Surviving Sex Trafficking

I remember the first time I was sold. I was just a child, four years old, not yet able to read and write. The man who bought me was old enough to be my grandfather. He didn’t care that I was a child; all he wanted was his pleasure. That was the start of a long and brutal journey. White picket fences and steepled churches all guarded secrets that were not ever supposed to be told. My exploitation began at age four, and the next 14 years were spent surviving sex trafficking.

For years, I was passed from one man to the next, each one more vicious than the last. My perpetrators came from all walks of life. An engineer, a police officer, a bait shop owner, businessmen, farmers, younger men, and old; different men all feeding their savage lust for little girls. I was beaten, starved, and forced to do things that no child should ever have to endure. My neck was fractured in two places during one event, and my sacrum was broken in three. But amid the flames, I encountered Jesus. Again and again, He found me in the dark.

There were times when I thought I would never make it out alive, times that I prayed for the mercy of death. Surviving sex trafficking required some form of escape, if not physically, then at least mentally. So, in my dreams, I would run fast and free. During the repeated rapes, my soul would take wing and fly away from the darkness to a place where pain and tears do not exist. My heart fled while my body remained trapped beneath that day’s perpetrator. A trained psychologist would call it compartmentalization or dissociation. I call it mercy.

If only the ruby slippers worked in reverse, I would have used those magical shoes to click my way out of the Midwest and into the Land of Oz.  Every year, as a wee-little-bitty, I watched on a rabbit-eared TV Dorothy make her journey through the Kansas tornado into Oz and back again; I wondered, “WHY does she go back?”

I understood the wild, slashing winds of the tornado; I knew the dark of the storm, a gray existence devoid of safety or joy intimately. My house was in a perpetual state of spinning out of control, and how I longed to crash into a world of color and wonder!

As an exploited child, I lived vicariously on the yellow brick road, longing for the tender friendship of Scarecrow, the affectionate loyalty of Tin Man, and most of all…the protection of that cowardly Lion.

The wicked witch? She held no power of terror over me; she was so very small in comparison to my villains. The troop of flying monkeys only seemed to me a very viable means of escape. They were certainly less fearsome than the men I faced in the dark of night. When my door would creak open, I would be awakened to soul-invading darkness; I would look to the window. Where was my Scarecrow, my Tin Man, where was my LION? If it were only possible for a chattering monkey to fly down and carry me off to the castle, I would gladly face a furious witch rather than the unbridled lust of a beast dressed as a man. If only I could trade a bloody nightgown for garnet-shod feet, I would click myself to Oz and never, no, not ever come back.

My Story of Surviving Sex Trafficking

But then, at the age of 17, the day after a failed suicide attempt, something inside me shifted. I realized that I was meant for more than a life of devastating abuse and exploitation. With God’s help, defiance was born.  I started to fight back and claw my way out of the darkness.

It wasn’t easy. There were days when I wanted to give up…days when I felt like I would never escape sex trafficking. But I kept going. I found allies in unexpected places, people who saw me as more than just a victim. A counselor, a lawyer, and a teacher, none of whom were experts, all became my unlikely friends. We became a cohort of freedom fighters. They helped me escape the life I had been forced into and gave me the tools I needed to heal.

Today, I am still healing. The scars of my past may never fully fade, but I refuse to be defined by sex trafficking. I am a survivor, yes. But I am so much more than the worst things that have ever happened to me. Through the years of brutality, justice was woven into my DNA. Because of that, I am determined to use my lived experience to inform and ignite cultural and systemic impact in the counter-trafficking movement.

Human trafficking is a crime against humanity, and humanity is made in the image of God. Therefore, it is not only an assault on human dignity but an assault on He who created us in His image. No one deserves to be treated the way I was treated…the way girls and boys are, even now, being treated. But there is hope. There is One who implicitly understands the kiss of betrayal. His name is Jesus. When I say that He came for me in the dark, I do not mean it metaphorically. Jesus, my friends, is very much alive, and He still sets captives free. Because of His unshakable love, I move through life now with purpose and joy. As the founder and CEO of Compass 31, I have the privilege of watching redemption come full circle again and again.

Compass 31 is an international counter-trafficking organization that combats trafficking through prevention, restoration, and leadership development. We provide a holistic model of restoration for individuals who have survived sex trafficking. Additionally, we fight to prevent trafficking through education with an educational tool called Priceless Cube. Thus far, national leaders from more than 40 different countries have been equipped to use it to effectively combat human trafficking among high-risk populations in their own countries.

Over the years of trauma and overcoming, I have learned that when I am weak, then I am strong. Even better, through God’s strength, we can all make a difference.

Take a Stand Against Child Sex Trafficking. Purchase and read The Lucky One: A Chilling True Account of Child Sex Trafficking and One Survivor’s Journey from Brutal Captivity to a Life of Freedom

My Story of Surviving Sex Trafficking

Endorsed by acclaimed authors and experts in the field, this book will shake your worldview, challenge your theology, and shed light on the depths of human endurance.

Discover the harrowing truth behind sex trafficking and experience my personal journey to healing and freedom. As you turn the pages, you’ll be captivated by the darkness and invited to taste God’s goodness in the land of the living.

Heartbreaking and yet filled with hope, my story will expose the hidden secrets guarded by white picket fences and steepled churches. It’s a story that must be told.

Join us in the fight against exploitation and support the voices of survivors. Purchase The Lucky One today and embark on a transformative journey of understanding, empathy, and the power to make a difference.

Together, we can bring light to the darkest corners and empower survivors to reclaim their lives.

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