At just twelve years old I had already experienced the devastating effects of child sex trafficking.
I had nowhere to go.
My life was shattered and it seemed that no one was able to help me put the pieces back together. I slept under highway overpass bridges and in the baseball dugouts of little league fields. The discomfort I experienced being on the street was like nothing compared to what had been happening inside my home.
The sexual abuse and grooming started at age six and had continued nearly everyday for the next six years. My stepfather used pornography and alcohol to teach me what to do and make me comfortable with his advances. By the time other men started coming to our upper-middle- class suburban home I was already familiar with how to perform. When I was taken to fancy parties at country clubs or in big houses along the water, I knew what was expected of me.
I also knew that bringing the other little girls to my house at the end of the school day would earn me rewards. It was easy for the abuser to train my friends to comply, because I was a real-life example that could show them what to expect when spending the night at our house. One of those little girls rejected the “training” she was undergoing and alerted a teacher the next day. By the end of that week, my stepfather was arrested.
He was locked up but the justice system failed to protect me and he didn’t stay in jail long. When he came home, I ran away.
That was how I ended up on the streets, sleeping under bridges. There were a few nights I was able to sleep indoors or eat a meal. All I had to do was allow a man to use my body in exchange for spending the night on his couch or for the contents of a paper bag from the drive thru at a fast food restaurant. I was a commodity, my body only good for getting my basic needs met.
I was arrested so many times that year, and every time the lies of my abuser were reinforced in my mind. He had warned me that if I ever told anyone what was happening that I would get locked up and never see my family again. When the police picked me up, they usually took me to the juvenile detention center, to the mental healthcare care facility or to a drug rehab clinic. Sometimes they would take me home and I would just run away again at the first opportunity.
The places I was taken by the police did nothing to help me deal with the damage from the years of sexual trafficking that I had endured. It seemed as if no one in these facilities was able to help me. They just kept me under control until they could release me or transfer me out to the next location.
Because I received no healing from the abuse, my heart hardened toward authority figures and I became bent on self-destructive behavior. Throughout my teens and early twenties I was trapped in a cycle of drug abuse, depression, failed relationships and continued victimization by pimps, drug dealers and “boyfriends.”
My story could have been quite different.
Maybe, if I had encountered people who cared about my healing when I was a young victim of sex trafficking, I could have received the much needed care, counseling and healing from the trauma I had endured. The care and support of a committed group of therapists and counselors may have been exactly what I needed to break the cycle and find freedom from the shame and stigma of the abuse and exploitation I had undergone.
According to a recent study, 79,000 children are being trafficked for sex in the state of Texas. Currently there are less than 30 beds in the state for those rescued. Many of these children are in similar situations to the ones I faced — they feel like they have nowhere to go and no one to turn to.
You can change that for them.
Partner your time and prayers with this organization. Be the one who brings hope to a child faced with an impossible situation. Provide the resources those children desperately need to discover their value. Share from the abundance the Lord has blessed you with and help these kids get free from the cycle of abuse and learn to live a new life.
Treasured Vessels Foundation is devoted to providing a safe place for healing and growth. Join them today and help these kids tell a different story.
Author Sandy Storm is a child sex trafficking survivor who has experienced a powerful transformation and lives what can only be described as a brand new life.
An author and gifted public speaker, Sandy is an inspiration to many. She shares her story of great love, hope, forgiveness and redemption as she speaks and teaches through many avenues within the church and the marketplace. Learn more at authorsandystorm.com.
Sandy’s life has been redeemed from victim to survivor, and now she is truly thriving.
You can purchase a copy of her book here.