There are an estimated 403,000 people living in modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). Sex trafficking exists throughout the country. 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. The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary, many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces them into prostitution. Others are lured with false promises of a job, and some are forced to sell sex by members of their own families. Victims of sex trafficking include both foreign nationals and US citizens, with women making up the majority of those trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking.
Leah ran away from home when she was 14 years old. She went to live her drug dealer in Sacremento who soon forced her to ‘contribute to the household’ by providing sexual services. Leah was in the life for four years before she was able to escape. She speaks of the role faith has had in enabling her to work through her trauma.
Mom was gonna abort before I was even here. Seems like an effort was made to get rid of me. And I started running away from home, and I just didn’t feel wanted and just had this big gaping hole in my heart for attention for people to love me, care about me.
So I ended up running away for the final time when I was 14. Around that time I had me a drug dealer in Sacramento and he said well you can come live with me. Moved in with him and he said you know, as long as I was going to school he would take care of me and keep a roof over my head.
When he saw that I was cutting class he said well if you’re not gonna go to school you need to contribute to this household. And he said you can either sell drugs or you can sell yourself. And he hooked us up with a pimp who is still at large, still pimping in this community. And I ended up on Stockard Boulevard here in Sacramento.
4 years, out there 4 nearly for years and it was the absolute worst experiences that any young woman could have. You know, one nightmare after another.
After that initial when I was first exploited, there was something that just kind of died, there’s just something that dies in you. There’s nothing like feeling you’re at the mercy of someone else, and they feel like they can do whatever they want to do to you and you can’t fight back.
My journal entries around that time I had written in my journal, either something’s going to change in my life or I’m going to die.
When I was 18, I started going to Sac City college, and I had five classes, and of those five classes I had four with the same girl. Pentecostal girl named Diana Hurn. She says when she first saw me she thought I wonder does she know Jesus?
And one day you know I was breaking down on campus because I was so emotional, I was just overwhelmed because I was still in the life and trying to get out. And I ran into her and she said she would talk to me. We went to the library and, I didn’t tell her everything because I was afraid she was gonna judge me. She was like ‘oh you should come to church with me this Sunday, you know my dad’s a minister you should come’. I was like, ok, so I went, I met her that Sunday and we got in her car and we’re driving down the road. It’s a beautiful sunny day. And that was my time you know, that was the time I believed God had been waiting for, you know, to just set me free from stuff I’d been dealing with.
And we went to service that day and I don’t remember anything the Pastor said. But I so remember him saying you should come up for prayer. And I was like, no I’m not getting up in front of all these people, but he kept saying we’re not here to hurt you we’re here to help you.
And I went up there and he put the microphone to one side, and he proceeded to tell me things that I knew only God could’ve shown him because I didn’t tell these people, I didn’t know these people, I didn’t tell them I was struggling with nightmares, I didn’t tell them, you know some of the intimate details of my family. And it was just like God gave him insight into who I was and where I was.
You know, and I literally had a Sol on the road to Damascus conversion because I went from a being totally disinterested in the things of God, to wow God’s been wooing me this whole time, he’s been coming after me this whole time. And I just went from one extreme to the other. And I’ll forever be grateful for miss Diana. That she really believed in me. She believed in me and she was the one who would speak things over with me.
And I remember one day were were sitting in her room, she asked me if I was gonna die tomorrow where would I go? And I was so just broken on the inside I didn’t believe that God would love me and that he would give me the opportunity to you know, to go to heaven. And she looked at me and she said you are right now, seated with Christ in heavenly places.
And it changed my life.
It gave me hope. That I could be loved by people.
Only God can transform your life and leave no trace of who you were. And er I always, you know always say I am Bridget’s Dream because I am free from sex slavery and sex trafficking, I am the dream, I’ve become the thing that I think, I know God wants to do in the lives of other young ladies.
I’ve had these moments, I just thought about this, I’ve had these moments in my walk with God, I’ve never heard him speak to me audibly but I’ve heard him really really clearing my spirit. I was mad with God and I was having one of those angry conversations with God in 2007 driving on the freeway. Why have I had to hurt so much? You know and I felt the Holy Spirit say to me it’s because I’m sending you to a hurting generation, you know. And I’m looking at all the girls that I’ve known over the years and since I’ve been you know full time fighting sex trafficking. We all come from such brokenness.
So, when I sit with a young lady, or I meet a young lady at juvenile hall or sit with them on the streets or I sit with families and I talk to mother sin my communities and they’re dealing with the exploitation of their daughters and they see her and they don’t recognise who she is. I can tell them from a place of being an overcomer. Not just having survived what I’ve survived but thriving in that survival. I’ll never be who I could’ve been if I hadn’t been traumatised. And I don’t think I wanna be who I could’ve been if I hadn’t been traumatised. Because its my trauma that’s given my heart for girls who go through the same thing.
Narrative provided by Better Together Tour