Spotlight on Human Trafficking – Interview with a Survivor
*Samatha was a victim of human trafficking when she was a teenager. She was a victim of child abuse. The man that abused her was a close and trusted family friend. Samantha was sold for profit into child sex trafficking. Trafficked by the trusted adult who used sexual, and psychological abuse to maintain control over Samantha, she found it very difficult to seek help. Today, Samantha is a survivor of human trafficking who shares her story of healing and how she copes with the lasting effects of her experience. Today, Samantha is a survivor of child abuse and sex trafficking.
*Samantha is her alias name.
Q: What has it been like speaking out as a survivor of trafficking?
A: It is hard to talk about being trafficked. I still get very emotional talking about my past. I have watched movies about human trafficking and the girls get shipped to another country. I was traffic in my own country and I did not even know I am traffic. I though as myself as only a prostitute. These days I speak to my therapist and share only parts of my past because it is not easy sharing my experiences.
Q: Will you tell us a little bit about your relationship with the man who trafficked you and why it was so hard to break free?
A: The man who trafficked me was like a father figure to me. He was a family friend and was always very kind. He was easy to talk to and I confided in him. I shared with him all my pain and fears and he listened to me and took care of me. I was diagnosed with mental illness and he would take me to appointments at the hospital.
My family was financially benefiting from me working as a sex worker and I felt obligated to keep working. I had one lady friend from church. I was allowed to attend church on Sundays. One Sunday I was crying the whole time and I shared with her that I am working as a sex worker. I was very afraid to talk to her because I knew if I share this to her, my family will not get their money. This is exactly why it was so hard to break free.
Q: Will you share with us some of the emotional and physical effects you’ve experienced as a result of your trauma?
A: I was a victim of child abuse. I live with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); bipolar, major depression and borderline personality disorder. All of these are a direct result of the trauma I experienced.
Q: After you first escaped, how did you cope?
A: I am enslaved by the post-traumatic effects of my trauma. I did not cope well. I feel a tremendous amount of shame and guilt. I had a lot of sexual urges the first few weeks when I was in the place of safety. I was so used to having a lot of sex that I was craving it. Thankfully, over time and through my work in therapy, I recovered from those overwhelming form of urges.
Q: Will you tell us about your path toward recovery and what’s helped you?
A: My path forward started off very rocky. It took a life-changing turn after entering therapy with a therapist. Also, meeting other survivors of abuse has been very helpful. The new friendships and support has helped me immensely on my path toward healing.
Q: After someone hears you speak, what do you hope they learn?
A: I want them to know that there is help to overcome and grow past their trauma. I want them to learn that they have a lot of value and self-worth. You might feel worthless to one person, but you are priceless to another.
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