The following blog series will take you through the journey of one family to rescue their daughter, and walk alongside her in her healing journey.
Thank you for reading my story. This is not the story of my daughter, as much as it is my story. I am a mother who has walked the hard path of having my daughter be a victim of sex trafficking in America. I share my story with you in hopes that no parent will never have to experience the pain my family has endured and to stand in solidarity with the other families who are walking this painful path.
How did this happen to my daughter? She was raised in a loving, hard working, middle class family with an abundance of people who loved and adored her. She was on the Varsity golf team, took private golf lessons every Saturday, was active in our church youth group, and loved having “Mommy-Joy” days. She would wake up on a Saturday morning and say, “can we have a Mommy-Joy day”? She may not have gotten everything she wanted, but she had everything she needed...or so I thought.
I beg you, please do not be naive. Please don’t think, "this won't happen to my child". I don’t say it to frighten you or say that it will happen, all I’m saying is to not be naive about the possibility. Raising a child above the poverty level or coming from a "good" family is irrelevant when it comes to trafficking. There are no boundaries--age, race, tax bracket, birthplace- you get what I’m saying. There are multiple ways that predators make their way into our kid’s lives. I only have personal experience with one way, my daughter was the victim of Romeo Pimping.
Predators love to target vulnerable teenagers--runaways. "Joy" left home near her 18th birthday. I don’t know where she met him, but what I do know is that he had a history of exploiting young girls, vulnerable girls, girls who bought into his promise of an amazing future as husband and wife. In reality, Joy was just a confused, scared, young girl who was looking for love in all the wrong places, and did whatever he asked.
Joy's trafficker was at least 12-15 years her senior. He had been in and out of prison for crimes related to trafficking- yet they just couldn’t pin it on him because none of the girls would testify against him. His girls were too afraid.
Finally, the authorities were able to make a case against him, but it hinged on Joy's testimony. On the morning of his court date, she chose not to show up even though she was subpoenaed - I suppose, out of fear of what would happen to her or her family. As the DA told me on the phone, “we have been trying to nail this guy for years, he is just as powerful behind bars as he is on the street”. His girls do whatever he says.
Often sex trafficking causes victims to suffer from Stockholm Syndrome or Trauma Bonding, a condition where there are feelings of trust and affection toward the abuser. Joy trusted him, and feared him.
As a mom, I tried everything I could to get my daughter back. I petitioned the detectives on the local trafficking task force. They tried. They did all they could. They knew exactly who she was and who he was. At that point- my word meant nothing to her, and without her testimony my pleas were empty. She lived under the rhetoric of shame, and he made sure that Joy believed her family didn’t care about her anymore...