Young people who run away from home are particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation by traffickers: The Department of Justice estimates that 293,000 youth are at risk. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) estimates that “1 in 5 of the 11,800 runways reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 2015 were likely sex trafficking victims.” Sex trafficking is a form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States. Traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will.Feeling neglected at home, at the age of 15 Christina ran away with her friend. While staying with some older women she was convinced to start stripping. However, she was required to do more than strip and did not receive any of the money she made. Luckily, Christina was able to get bus money from one of the women and escape her situation
My name is Christina and this is my freedom story.
So I grew up here in Fresno and I was raised by a single mum. I’m the oldest of 5 kids, my dad left when I was a baby. I remember those feelings of needing to be wanted, of just wanting to be desirable. Those feelings grew even more and I started this pattern of promiscuous behaviour and I believed that all guys wanted was sex and if I just gave them sex then they would want me and that wasn’t what happened at all. So as a teen I had a rocky relationship with my mum, we fought all the time and I had a friend when I was 15 she had ran away from home and she invited me to come along with her.
We ended up going to stay in Clovis and we were staying with these women who called themselves strippers, and they wanted me to erm, to do it with them. And I was flattered that they thought I was pretty enough to, to strip. And it seemed glamourous, they had you know the pretty clothes, the shoes and so it seemed like something that I wanted to do. It turned out that what happened behind closed door it wasn’t stripping at all it was child prostitution, but I didn’t realise that until I was an adult. And I remember calling out to God and I said God please keep me alive and I’ll go home.
And so the next day when I got up, I asked for bus money because they had taken the money that I’d made and somebody gave me bus money and I left. And erm I didn’t realise at the time how lucky I was to just walk out like that.
And for years I didn’t, I didn’t tell anybody what happened, I was so ashamed and just embarrassed. When I was 18 I ended up getting pregnant and you know I was scared about my future, I didn’t know how I was gonna take care of a baby, I didn’t know where I was going to live, I was bouncing around. And so I knew that if my life was going to get any better I needed God. And that’s when I started going to church and god started to change my life. And I ended up going back to high school, I got my high school diploma. It took me 8 years but I finished. God gave me a really good friend who encouraged me to go to college and I remember being terrified thinking there’s no way I could so college and. But sure enough I ended up going to college and I graduated city and then I went to erm Fresno Pacific got my BA in Liberal Arts and graduated with highest honours and I’m continuing my education with FU. I also teach kindergarten so my life is so blessed and I just, now I have this passion to serve others and I don’t have to be ashamed of my past anymore. I have compassion for the little girl that I was and what I went through and I love my story, I love my past because it’s made me who I am today and I’m a passionate woman who loves others, who wants to help people see God and I can be proud of that.
As told to the Central Valley Justice Coalition