We live in a world where an abuser can spot a vulnerable child from a mile away, or from across a crowded room, yet every other adult in the child's life is likely to miss it.
"Sex Trafficking Prevention", Savannah Sanders
Things began spiraling downwhill quickly. To numb and cope with the pain of so much abuse, self-harm and hardcore drugs began to take over. Sobriety and stable living became periodic seasons. At 15 years old Savannah met a woman 10 years older than her; they bonded quickly and hung out all the time. One night she got Savannah into a sex club, and even though she was a bit uncomfortable, Savannah desired to feel grown up and have a good time with her new friend.
There I was, a teenager at a sex club on a Wednesday night - a very late night. I spewed vulnerability. While others in society saw me as a rebellious teen with no boundaries, a high school dropout and drug addict, the man standing outside the club saw me as a vulnerable little girl desperately needing to be loved. He saw me as easy to manipulate despite the hard, brace face I showed to the world.
That night was the game changer. It marked the beginning of my descent into sex trafficking.
Coincidentally, it was at this exact same time that everyone who was not involved in my culture or way of life could have made a difference. Instead, my family, educators, doctors, law enforcement officers, and community members continued viewing me as a rebellious teen, not a vulnerable, hurting girl. I was the definition of at-risk youth.
When I walked out the door of that club that night, the man who would eventually traffic me, saw the vulnerable, needy girl with low, nearly non-existent self-esteem that I'd become, and he pounced.
Savannah's exploitation lasted until her trafficker got a tip that the massage parlor was under police investigation. She was told to leave and come back after things died down. Instead, she went home but eventually found herself at rock bottom on the streets, unable to cope with the pain and brokenness of her past.
The catalyst for change happened when Savannah's now-husband saw beyond the drug-addicted-teen-runaway and into the broken girl desperate for healing, and took her in. Savannah is now a wife, mother of four, author, and advocate passionate about the prevention of child sex trafficking.
Seeing Beyond The Surface
Prevention of trafficking is more than educating junior high and high school kids. Prevention is learning to recognize the signs of trafficking that are already occurring. It is about recognizing vulnerable children before a trafficker does.
I want everyone to see that some people perform behaviors and show tough exteriors for what they are in truth: vulnerabilities. Instead of judging and condemning, rejecting and seeing them as hopeless throwaways, I want you and everyone else to identify the desperate state these people are in and love and support them into and through their process of healing.
What You Can Do
The first step in fortifying our freedom is understanding our stories. The more self-aware we are of our personal vulnerabilities to sex trafficking, the better we will be able to develop resiliency to a predator's manipulation. It also helps us to pursue healing and develop healthy coping mechanisms for our pain.
Get started by heading over to the Battle Plan for Freedom so that you can Know Your Story even better.
Abuse happens in the community, so healing must happen in the community. - Celestia Tracy