Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Sex Trafficking Survivor Starts Over

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Sex Trafficking Survivor Starts Over photo by Ashley Harrigan at flickr.com/photos/ashleyharrigan/

Most little girls grow up believing in fairy tales, but Kimberly can't remember a time when she believed in princesses or happily ever after.

“My life was not normal," says Kimberly. "I didn’t have a life like everyone else with two parents and everyone happy.”

Her earliest memory is of her mom dying when she was 10 years old. Kimberly and her two sisters were left in her father’s care, but they weren’t safe with him. The oldest sister was sold to a man for drugs and alcohol.

Kimberly struggled to take care of her younger sister and protect her. But their father gave dangerous people access to them.

At the age of 11, Kimberly was raped by a friend of her father. When she told her dad what happened, he beat here for lying. Her older sister found out and called the police. They all got placed in the foster care system and split up. Kimberly was placed in a group home but her younger sister went to a foster home and eventually became adopted.

Kimberly felt alone, even at the group home. She had no one to care for her, so she took care of herself.

Forced into Sex Trafficking

When she was 16 years old, she started seeking relationships and a home. She got mixed up with bad guys, and one of them forced her into sex trafficking by bullying her with violence and fear.

One night, she found a way to runaway, and she escaped. Still seeking a home, she met another man and became pregnant with his child. He beat her -- and she justified staying with him because she wasn’t forced to work the streets. When that relationship ended, she met a man she thought would take care of her. Three months into their relationship, she found out he was a pimp.

He forced her back to prostitution through threats of killing her and would beat her if she didn’t bring in enough money. This continued through her second pregnancy.

She never allowed herself to dream of a different life.

The day came, while working the streets, that she got caught in a sting operation. Almost a dozen law enforcement officers swarmed into the area where she worked -- and she thought she was going to die. She was headed to jail, but another path was offered to her. She could serve time behind bars or participate in Catholic Charities diversion program.

Sex Trafficking Survivor

Kimberly has recently graduated the program and is piecing her life back together. She is sober and living in a halfway house that provides structure and stability.

“It’s been a struggle for her, she has worked hard, and she has grown,” says Cathy Bauer, diversion program supervisor. “She can control her anger now, and she smiles.”

For the first time, Kimberly has hope. “Diversion has opened my eyes to better places," says Kimberly. "They have shown me that I can be a better person.”

She is thankful for the diversion program - she says she feels safe there and considers it her second home.

Kimberly is looking for a full-time job and plans to volunteer at the diversion program to give other survivors hope. She is optimistic about her future and wants to write a book about her experiences. Eventually, she hopes to work with a domestic violence program to help women start a better life.

Sex trafficked survivors like Kimberly receive compassion and guidance from our specialized program. You can also help them by becoming a one-time or monthly supporter. As a supporter, you'll provide for the basics like bus passes, groceries and other needed items so they can begin their lives again. Please be a part of this important work to save sex trafficked survivors from our communities.

 

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