"Once when I was 11, I was so sick my grandma kept me home from school. I had a fever of 101.3 and I was throwing up, so my grandma took me to the doctor. The doctor told me and my grandma after some tests that I had an STD. The look on my grandma’s face told me that, whatever it was, it was bad. Back then, I didn’t have a cell phone to Google it, so I waited until I was better and went to school to ask my teacher what it was.
She told me it meant I had a disease from sex and I shouldn’t have sex with too many people.
I remember the look she had in her eyes. It told me I was dirty and bad. I went home and tried to clean myself. I wanted to prove to my teacher that I was worthy of her attention, time, and love. School was a safe haven for me. School was the only place I felt safe, or at least safe enough to be a kid, so to have my teacher think I was bad or dirty broke my heart.
Looking back, I wish my teacher had asked the right questions or knew the signs of kids being trafficked, but she didn’t. I think it’s important that educators are trained to spot victims of trafficking.
The same is true for medical professionals. I had many encounters with doctors and nurses during my trafficking. Sometimes the signs were there, other times I told them I was being trafficked. When I did tell them, their responses pushed me further away. Their faces told me they were upset with me. Or they would ask invasive questions that I couldn’t answer. Sometimes they even called the police and I was arrested for prostitution! An 11 year old, arrested for prostitution. I was a CHILD. All the more reason training for educators, medical professionals, and law enforcement is SO important."
The Right Questions to Ask:
1. Does anyone making you do anything you don’t want to do?
2. Does someone else have your money?
3. Does someone else have your ID, passport, or papers?
4. Does someone else decide when you can call or see your friends or family?
5. Do you have to ask someone to eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom?
6. Does someone else decide when you can leave?
7. Do you owe your boss money?
8. Has anyone lied to you about the kind of work you would be doing?
9. Has anyone said they would hurt you or your family if you try to leave?
10. Have you been screamed at, hurt, threatened, raped, or abused for working too
slow, making a mistake, or trying to leave?
11. Does anyone make you have any kind of sex for work/money?
Report Suspected Trafficking
24/7 Rescue Hotline - 713.322.8000
SMS: 233733 (Text "HELP" or "INFO") Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week Languages: English, Spanish and 200 more languages Website: http://humantraffickinghotline.org
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children- 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678)
Report Child Sexual Exploitation