SOUTHWEST MISSOURI — The National Human Trafficking Hotline says more than 1,000 victims and survivors have been identified in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.
“It doesn’t surprise me, it should but it doesn’t because I lived that life and I know how many people suffer.”
In the final installment of our series on human trafficking we sit down with a local survivor of human trafficking who details her first-hand account of that dangerous life.
We’re keeping this survivor’s identity private because she’s seen that suffering first-hand, right here, in Joplin
“A lot of my clients, like I said before, you wouldn’t believe who they were because they’re people that you see everyday that people trust.”
She was introduced to ‘the life’ by a family friend.
“The money was good, but it takes everything from you like your self esteem.”
And she tried to get out
“I went to a pastor and I told him, like I don’t want to do this anymore and I told him everything thing that was going on, how I was prostituting myself”
She confided in him, trusted him…
“and he told me to come back the very next day, so I came back the next day and he put a cross on my head with holy oil.”
And then made her perform a sexual act in his office.
“It made me not trust them.”
“We have the duty and the obligation when we know to be able to help them see what’s being done to them and really to help them get out,” says Karolyn Schrage, Victim Services Coordinator, R.I.S.E. Coalition.
Pilot: “I got a call around 10 o’clock at night one evening that said we have somebody that needs to go as quickly as possible.”
The pilot I spoke to, whose identity we’re also concealing, responds to the call for help, any time, any day, no matter where he is.
“We don’t ask questions. Just how many people how much do they weigh and what do they have with them.”
“The journey starts the moment the person makes the decision to leave.”
But that decision…
Survivor:”I think the time when I woke up to reality is like when I tried killing myself.”
…Wasn’t easy for the survivor i talked to.
“That was my moment for me to say I’m tired of this life. I’m tired of giving my body to everybody. I’m tired of the dope, I’m tired. Like I’m sick and tired.”
But one moment changed everything.
“It was my daughter who changed all that, that told me that Jesus loves me and she’s praying for me.”
Now, a mother of two, she credits her children for being a reason to get out of ‘the life.’
“My daughter’s 12. My son’s 10.”
“If you find yourself or you find your children in a dangerous situation, please don’t not reach out for help. There is help. There’s help in this community. There’s help nationally,” said Schrage
Survivor: “You’re not stuck, like there’s freedom.”
And freedom feels good.
Check out Part 1 and 2 of Deja’s Human Trafficking Series: