There are an estimated 403,000 people living in modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). Sex trafficking exists throughout the country. Traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary, many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces them into prostitution. Others are lured with false promises of a job, and some are forced to sell sex by members of their own families. Victims of sex trafficking include both foreign nationals and US citizens, with women making up the majority of those trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking.
Taylor was trafficked out of Florida by a family friend when she was 16 years old. Taylor was subjected to sexual abuse and trafficked around the country, forced to provide sexual services. She was finally able to escape and went to her mother who called the police. Taylor was in FBI witness protection while her trafficker was being prosecuted. She is now 18 years old and her trafficker has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison followed by lifetime supervised release.
Two parents, older brother, typical went to school every day. My mom was very loving and supportive, and my dad was an amazing guy he definitely showed me what a man is supposed to treat a woman like so…
Erm, so Honolulu, that’s where my brother was stationed, so my mom and I went to Hawaii to visit him and that was the first time we had met [her trafficker]
He has a wife, 3 kids. He seemed like a great dad, erm very loving person, funny.
And so we ended up going scuba diving and we went to like a luau, it was just like, it was just a vacation so nothing suspicious whatsoever.
My mom and I ended up going to Florida because the scuba diver had a scuba diving business, because that’s my mom, or was my mom’s dream, was to own a dive business and so her was going to show her kind of like how to run one and, yeah because he had a very successful one.
I was 16, we went out to dinner with a few of his friends that was when I found out that he had an open marriage with his wife.
It wasn’t open for her, but it was open for him, so he had a girlfriend and so we met her there, and that threw me for a loop.
Yeah so it was thanksgiving like that same year, my mom asked for a divorce and then she moved to Florida like, December 1st. Now I later know that it was a huge part of that, of like telling my mom that my dad was doing these awful things behind her back.
Um after, honestly after I found out that he had an open marriage with his wife I didn’t trust him and I didn’t necessarily like him because of that. And so I, we didn’t keep in contact. So, when I saw him we hadn’t talked in like I don’t know two to three months and so I definitely wasn’t very happy to see him.
So, I was working two jobs, I was waitressing and so I mean we were just barely making it and there was multiple times where he would say that like we have to find another option. And I as like okay, so like, I like had a lot of good ideas of like, and we later now figured out that they would have worked. He was like no, that won’t work, you have this cost and this cost and so I mean every idea that we could have ever thought of he was going to shoot down.
Then the whole apartment thing came in of like, if you don’t become a part of the family then you to go. That’s was it was called the ‘family’. He took me down to the keys for like a like welcome to Florida, and a lot of inappropriate things he tried to do. And I said no because `he tried to get me to be part of the family there. He in order to become part of the family I had to have sex with him, and I wouldn’t do that.
Yeah so I mean we definitely weren’t making ends meet, and so the conversation of him saying like you either become part of the family or you get kicked out of the apartment. So that’s when I did have to have sex with him because I was about to get kicked out of the apartment.
There’s a two-week period in April that I can’t remember. I’ve narrowed it down to like, between using social media and the pictures on my phone and like what I remember. It’s like to narrow it down to like the brainwashing period. Because in most cases the brainwashing period, you can’t remember beause you repress it. And so that’s like the two period that I can’t remember. The only thing I remember after I’d agreed to do whatever needs to be done, I’d have sex with him 2-3 times a day for two weeks. I remember that, I don’t remember the sex or anything though. The intial plan I guess you could say was that that was like the prepping, like him having sex with me and like preparing me for going on a trip. Because the trip that we ended up going on was me and his girlfriend. That’s where the prostitution happened. So, he took me up to Georgia and then all the way across to Texas. He would post me up on Backpage. Like he wouldn’t show my face, but it was like pictures of me and then erm he would like posed it in an area. So, like in Georgia we were at military bases we had like a kind of, it’s called a ditch phone and it’s like a prepaid phone that you can’t really track and so the guys would call that number and they’d make an appointment. So, in Georgia I think it was, there was like seven clients and I don’t remember all of the details, but in Texas is where I got hurt and I couldn’t work on the way back. So that was definitely a godsend.
Him and his girlfriend were in like a very, they were always fighting and so they, they were like fighting inside one time and I was sitting in the car and like, I was freaking out. So there was a guy sitting next to us in like a convertible car and I was considering like jumping in his car and like telling him to take me to a bus stop because I like wanted out of there.
[What stopped you escaping?]
That he would find me later on, and it would be worse. He had told us that he was like a sniper in the military. He was an ex-military person and so I was definitely scared to death that he had those kinds of tactics to be able to find me. He always had a pistol with him.
[What were your feelings at the time?]
Frustration, fear, erm rag doll. I’ll never forget like how I felt just being an object of someone because it was like, here these guys are, don’t know me like don’t even realise that I’m a daughter to someone that like I’m a sister to someone. Like they very well may have those siblings and they’re just using me because it’s just what they want in the moment. And so, definitely just like an object to people.
I wasn’t allowed to contact anybody from my past. I had no idea, like I knew it was a bad situation but I didn’t know it was illegal, I didn’t even know that human trafficking existed and so like I didn’t know, even up until the point of him getting arrested. I had no idea what he was charge with because I didn’t know what human trafficking was. Up until they had to explain to me what he was charged with because I had no idea.
I went to her [my mother] and told her everything that had happened. She didn’t know what was happening on the trip and she found out, and so she was furious about that, and so we drove back to the apartment and we kicked him out of the apartment, and then we went to the police,
The only thing like going in to that police department, one was by God’s own strength and courage because, we didn’t have any by that point. And so like that was a god send that we were even bale to do that, and then just going there, we were focused on just like safety wise. Like he could come back, like he had a key to the apartment and so we’re like we have to do something. Once they figured out that like there had been like sexual intercourse between me and him, then nnce I shared about like what had happened on the trip and stuff, then they were like this is a lot bigger than we were imaging. So then it became federal when it was across state lines.
My mom and I were put into protective custody because he still wasn’t arrested at that point and so then we were in a hotel room for like 2 weeks while they were arresting him. Then he got arrested in Hawaii.
Oh yeah he had all the evidence. The ditch phone and all the backpage ads were never deleted and actually kept the ditch phone, because he told her to throw it out and for some reason which was completely God, she didn’t and so that was the evidence they had against him. To arrest him, later on they found more though.
It’s just something from my past like I can’t let it affect me today like I can’t live with that fear I mean I definitely still have those flashbacks and the fears that some person from his past is gonna come like hurt me or something, but I mean I can’t, I can’t live my life like that.
It’s a God send that I’m even sitting here today, let alone that I’m healed to the point that I am and have the confidence and the strength that I had. And so, I mean a lot of counselling, I mean my friends, my family erm everyone that’s been so supportive. But the centre of it is God, and that’s what I cling to.
Like I was in one of the most upper-class places in the United States and there’s nothing, I mean there’s obviously situations that od happen tha tis it in like high poverty area, but it’s everywhere. From lower class, to middle class to upper class and everywhere in between. It’s here, in your neighborhoods.
It’s really hard, it is. But the best thing you could do for yourself is just keep going to counselling doing everything possible to just like find the hope and like what it can bring to other people, like I’m doing this video right now like it, like can change someone’s life. It can change a trafficker’s life, it can change a parent’s life. You can change so many people’s lives by just like using your story. Just like be that like safety person for other people. Like for me, I love talking to teen girls because everyone desires a boyfriend, everybody wants to get married one day. And if some amazing guy comes in to your life saying I can fulfil all that, like you’re gonna jump towards that so being like confident in yourself and who you are, and not needing that stuff will keep you on the right track. It’s like finding that one thing that you’re passionate about.
The main thing that I had to work through was understanding that I didn’t make this decision to do this. And so saying like saying like oh well I chose to do this, like no you didn’t choose to do this because you were coerced.
Human trafficking is force, fraud or coercion.
Just like putting it into perspective of like that kid is like a daughter, a sister, family to someone. Like it’s not an object. This person has feelings. Like this person doesn’t enjoy what you’re making them go through. But is so scared of you just because of like all the force, fraud and coercion that you’ve done. But that they’re a real person.
There’s a stereotype, if they could see me they would see that I’m definitely not a stereotype. It’s not just drug addicts, it’s not just like high poverty, it’s I mean your everyday people but any person with any vulnerability is at risk. If that’s you have divorced parents, or you didn’t have a dad growing up or you don’t have a lot of friends or you were bullied in high school. It’s just, everybody has a vulnerability and so whether you have low self-confidence like all that stuff can be used against you and human trafficking isn’t an issue to take lightly. In this moment as we’re talking, as people are listening, children are being sold all around the world. In Florida, in Colorado, in Texas, everywhere children are being sold.
Narrative produced and provided by Christy’s Cause
Original narrative can be found here