13 Human Trafficking Survivors Tell Their Heartbreaking Stories

Across the world, as many as 30 million people are currently being held captive, moved from location to location as victims in the global human trafficking trade. As many as 17,500 victims are moved into the US each year. California is home to three of the FBI’s most notorious trafficking areas - San Francisco, L.A., and San Diego - while the Dallas-Ft. Worth region in Texas is home to 15 percent of the total calls sent to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The average age of those forced into this illegal trade is 12 to 14 years old. 

Global authorities have identified Russia, China, Iran, Belarus, and Venezuela as some of the top countries known for a high percentage of trafficking-related crimes. This underground black market destroys the lives of thousands of people, even as it pads the pockets of criminals with more than $32 billion each year. The following are real stories from real victims, and many use false names out of fear of reprisal. 

  • Kendall Claims Her 'Owner' Told Her She Was ‘Made’ For Bondage

    Kendall Claims Her 'Owner' Told Her She Was ‘Made’ For Bondage
    Video: YouTube

    One alleged survivor of the illegal sex trade, who calls herself “Kendall,” publicly announced that her parents only had her in order to sell her to an international trafficker. In March 2017, Kendall went on the Dr. Phil Show and shared her story. She maintains her life began with sexual abuse and that she was molested as a toddler, prior to developing verbal skills. 

    Kendall explained that the man, whom she refers to only as “the man who owned me,” said that she wasn’t allowed to use the word “trafficking.” Kendall, reportedly unsure of her own age, reiterated how the man told her she “was made for [sexual slavery], and trafficking is when girls who aren’t made for that get kidnapped or sold into it.”

    On the show, Kendall described her “clients” as powerful, rich men and women - from politicians, doctors, celebrities, and even law enforcement officials. 

  • Mari Had 4 Children Over Her 16 Years Of Forced Prostitution

    Over the course of 16 years, “Mari” was in a relationship with “Darrell,” who fathered her four children. According to the Polaris Project, a non-profit organization that combats trafficking and operates a national hotline, Darrell was abusive in every way: verbally, physically, and sexually. 

    The survivor’s account maintains that Darrell forced Mari to have sex with other men for money. Darrell also recruited an 18-year-old named "Janice" to join his prostitution ring.

    Reportedly, a police officer pulled Darrell’s car over, and the two women were also in the vehicle. The officer noticed that the man had both Mari and Janice’s IDs in his wallet and asked to speak to each of the women privately. The officer realized that they were held against their will and connected the captives to the Polaris Project, leading to their rescue.

  • Phalla’s Grandmother Sold Her Into Prostitution

    Until the age of 20, Phalla lived a relatively normal life in Cambodia. After her father died, with no one to support her family, she was forced to move in with her grandmother. According to Equality Now, a global network that advocates for gender equality and human rights, the grandmother sold Phalla to a brothel two months later. 

    The grandmother reportedly drove the girl to a brothel in the nearby city, Kampong Som, but Phalla was unaware of her grandmother's intentions. At the brothel, Phalla was locked in a room and assaulted several times a day. Her reality for the next several months included being sold from one brothel to another. 

    Then, she met a man who helped her back to her native Cambodia. It seemed like a new lease on life, but she was soon put to work in a karaoke bar, and her employers sold her to foreign tourists for days at a time. When she tried to leave, she was beaten. It took several more months before she was able to gain her captor’s confidence, escape, and turn herself over to authorities.

  • Sabine Went From Genocide Survivor To Human Trafficking Victim

    Sabine Went From Genocide Survivor To Human Trafficking Victim
    Video: YouTube

    As the only surviving member of her family in the wake of the Rwandan genocide, “Sabine” was more than happy to accept an offer working for a wealthy American family. Upon her arrival in the US, the family held the girl captive and made her perfor forced labor. According to the Polaris Project, Sabine had neither a room nor a bed and slept on the floor. 

    It took six months before Sabine was allowed one hour off each Sunday to attend church services. While there, one of her fellow parishioners caught wind of her situation and helped her escape. At first, Sabine’s ordeal had left her traumatized. She was afraid to leave her new apartment or venture in the city alone.

    With the help of a devoted case manager, Sabine is reportedly now able to travel on her own and is learning English as she slowly works to rebuild her life.

  • Loreta Was Forced Into Sex Work As A Teenager

    According to Equality Now, social workers removed Loreta and her 13 brothers and sisters from a negligent home environment. At a young age, she and her siblings were shipped off to Lithuanian state homes across the country, and she lost track of her family.

    Soon after she arrived at the state home, a man posing as her godfather visited Loreta. He began visiting her repeatedly. The other kids told her she was fortunate, and she initially agreed, until her “godfather” assaulted her at the age of 13. At 15, the state sent her to live with him.

    A young madam named Dana, posing as Loreta's sister, courted the 16-year-old. The 21-year-old befriended the teen with promises of fun before luring Loreta and her friends into a life of forced prostitution. For two years, Loreta lived with Dana before the madam sold her to a pimp in Ravenna, Italy.

    In Italy, she was forced to have sex with clients in the public restrooms within a 15-minute window. It wasn’t until she happened to have a client that spoke Lithuanian that Loreta dared beg for help. The john took Loreta and some of her friends to the Italian police. They helped get her some documentation and return back home.

  • Cristopher Paid $5,000 Only To Be Sold Into Indentured Servitude

    "Cristopher" grew up in the Philippines but wanted to live and work in the United States. When a recruiter proposed an opening at a hotel in the Appalachians, Cristopher happily paid $5,000 for the opportunity to travel to the US and live his dream.

    According to the Polaris Project, Christopher quickly discovered that the job opportunity was a farce after he arrived. He was bused to a Gulf State against his will - a three-day journey without food or water. Once at his destination, he was forced to work 18-hour days cleaning hotels for a pittance.

    Concerned that the recruiter would retaliate against his family back in the Philippines for the initial debt, Christopher sought assistance from the non-profit.