Monday, July 4, 2016

Christina's Story, Part Three: "Transition Out Of The Life: Hope And New Beginnings" #trafficking

What follows is part three of "Christina's Story." It is a fictionalized account based on the stories of several trafficking victims from the Houston area. I first encountered it at the 2016 Freedom Fest & Houston Human Trafficking 5K, sponsored by Free the Captives. Each entry will consist of part of the story (in normal text) and facts about human trafficking (in italics text). The original display included artwork by several of the victims that is at times informative, inspiring, and heartwrenching. Please pray as you learn more. Thanks for reading.


Having made the decision to flee, I ran away. Now I was technically free, but, having gone through so many traumatic experiences, I did not know how to integrate back into society. I felt as if I was on the outside, looking in, but unable to join everyone.

Integration into the larger society is very difficult for sex trafficking survivors. Often, they do not have tools to survive on their own: no physical or financial support, no education to rely on, no life skills or psychological health. They often suffer from acute PTSD.


At some point in my life on the street, I became pregnant. I know that my baby was not off limits to my trafficker. He had used the children of his other girls to manipulate them and keep them from leaving him. I would not allow my child to be used by my trafficker, so I ran from him again, this time for good.

Minors entrapped in sex trafficking do not have many options of getting out. Many die along the way from drug overdoses, suicide or violent pimps and Johns. The grim reality is that few girls make it out alive. Christina is lucky to escape.


I had to find a safe place for my child and for myself. I learned that my mother’s abusive boyfriend was out of the picture, and started thinking about returning home. At the same time, my mother, who had been searching for me all along, was finally able to connect with me, and begged me to come home. I was willing to give it another try.

More often than not, trafficking survivors return to their families, where the real work of healing and reconciliation begins. Sometimes victims may go to a “safe house,” but these facilities are often short-term. Also, victims often do not feel comfortable in highly structured environment and will run away from safe homes. Thus, they often return to their communities. If it is safe, they will return home. Otherwise, they will live with another family member or close friend. It is important to note that the majority of human trafficking victims will return to their community or family.

“A Family Affair”

My mom and I realized that in order to avoid falling into the same cycle of neglect, abuse and isolation, the entire family needed to work together for a better life. I wanted a better future for my child, and was determined to make it happen.

Oftentimes, concerned parents push for the family to be involved in the healing process of the trafficking survivor. After all, part of the reason that many girls fall victim to traffickers is that there is a great level of dysfunction at home. Free the Captives, along with other non-profit organizations, works with the entire family to stabilize the home by providing support and assistance. Free the Captives offers groceries, furniture and other tangible help. They also have a support group for parents.

“Future Possibilities”

Through many months of work with Free the Captives, I began to have hope. I joined Free the Captives’ support group for trafficked teens. Finally, I felt like someone understood me and what I have been through. In the support group, no one judged me and I could finally talk about what I had been through. Also, through Free the Captives’ tutoring, I was able to complete my education and to find my self-esteem once again. I worked hard to graduate from high school and to put the dark past behind me.

Free the Captives offers many services to trafficked teens, including the support group and educational assistance. Many victims find it very difficult to open up about their trafficking experience, but in the support group, they feel safe and understood. For many of them, it is the first time, they can open up and share about their experiences, which is an important step in recovery. Also, Free the Captives works diligently to assist girls in furthering their education. From graduation fees to tutoring to college scholarships to laptops, Free the Captives does whatever it takes to see trafficking survivors walk across the stage in a cap and gown.

“A Real Job”

Today, an early summer morning finds me on the street, but this time, I am waiting for the bus. This is my first day at my job as an assistant in a doctor’s office. I am thrilled and eager to have a real job in a professional work setting that I was able to find through my own determination and the hard work of supporting agencies such as Free the Captives, which connected me to my first employer.

Finding a legitimate job is a great stepping stone out of the life on the streets. It provides sex trafficking survivors with a much-needed income, but also boosts their self-confidence and shows them that they are able to succeed in society despite what they have been through. Free the Captives works with multiple employers such as law firms and doctors’ offices to provide survivors with professional job opportunities in a caring and supportive environment. These job opportunities are the linchpin in breaking the cycle of poverty and abuse and destroying the power of traffickers in impoverished communities.

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