In November of this year, Blanket Fort Hope gave a presentation at a local elementary school in Birmingham, Alabama. Our mission for this event was to deliver knowledge and awareness to school aged children, in the hopes that it would prevent future trafficking abuse. Over the course of 3 days, we gave several 30 minute introductory sessions into the nature of human trafficking, who it effects, and what the children could do to protect themselves and those around them.
Reaching these children would have been sufficient to define this event as a success. But little did we know that we would have two children reach out to us with their own stories of being involved in trafficking situations. (We were able to verify the validity of these stories and caretakers were already aware of these situations.) Below is the letter given to us by one of these victims that highlights the real impact and cost of child trafficking. It is a stark reminder of how vulnerable even children from affluent neighborhoods are, and that this evil respects no age, gender, or socio economic barriers.
3 Quick Stories & Some Advice to My PeersAnonymous Student at affluent, over the mountain Birmingham School
So, this is not a question, more of a sharing moment and a bit of advice.
1) Last summer, I was 14, and this 18 year old male that I knew personally threatened me for pornography and proceeded to touch & grope me while at work. he then share them [the pictures] with all his friends, even the ones that worked with us. I was afraid and unaware of what to do. Soon, word go around and my dad found out. I had to do a police report and there was an investigation. Turns out, the guy had been doing it to tons of young girls my age over social media. He’s now in jail.
2) I was online and this guy also threatened my (sic) for pornography, and then used the pictures to manipulate me and he told me I had to be his slave & his slut. he made me address him as “sir”. Eventually I reported him on the app and blocked him.
3) Yet again, I was threatened for pornography. The guy then proceeded to edit the pictures with words like “slut” & “whore”. he posted them on many different porn sites. I screenshot the texts, then changed my mind about telling someone because I was too scared. My mom found the screenshots.
These three situations are 100% true. I told myself that I would never be pressured. I’d never send pornography, I’d never cut, I’d never drink. but I did all of them. It’s different when you’re in the actual situation yourself. I felt like I couldn’t be around anyone because I was so ashamed of myself for a very long time. I thought I was a disgrace and didn’t deserve to live. I ran away from home and was gone for 4 hours. Eventually the sheriff found me. I was terrified. I was broken, and I hurt myself a lot. Slowly throughout the past two years I’ve been working on improving my self-esteem, I’ve been more happy and a kinder person. I was also put in a mental hospital for this stuff back in February.
So, don’t be mad or upset with your parents if you catch them going through your phone! They are just trying to protect you. I wish I had listened to them and had realized all this sooner.
Even though you don’t know who wrote this, I am always here if you need to talk.
I love you guys.
If you would like to schedule a training for your group or school, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to make a end of the year give to our Investing In Hope capital campaign to help build Alabama’s first and only crisis and therapeutic center for child victims of human trafficking, please consider a one-time or recurring donation directly to our housing fund.