These interviews are originally from our LBD.Project‘s series of interviews with sex trafficking survivors by Heidi, the LBD.Project social media director. They were posted on Instagram in the winter of 2017. Minor edits have been made to the quotes for clarification.
Interview With Sex Trafficking Survivor #1
Today’s survivor interview is of Marjorie Saylor, she works as a peer support group facilitator at Alabaster Jar Project and is doing a lot on the frontlines to help other survivors of trafficking find life after oppression. (Note: since this interview was conducted, she has opened a non-profit which specializes in providing support for survivors in a way which keeps them from falling back into sex trafficking at The Well Path)
How did you end up in the trafficking world?
“Two ways. Growing up in a home of domestic violence, child sexual abuse opened me up for exploitation, and a teen rape further pushed me into those arms however the ultimate push factor for me was a need to survive after being a runaway from the age of fifteen.”
How did you get your freedom back?
“While pregnant I tried to commit suicide and called out to God to help me. I said ” God, if you’re really there please protect my baby. If you give me a healthy girl, I will dedicate her life to you.” (I was asking for protection for my unborn child. Protection from the drugs I was forced to take and the trauma that was being done to my body from the physical abuse I was suffering at the hands of my abuser.) God answered my prayer. My daughter was born a week overdue with nothing wrong with her. I had hope in a new life. I believed that God was there and by the time she was eleven months old He used her to save my life. I saw her react to my abuse and immediately woke up out of my despair and developed a courage I had never known before and we were able to escape.”
What do you want the world to know now?
“Anyone can become vulnerable to become exploited. Unfortunately those vulnerabilities usually start at home. Pornography pushes the purchaser to prey on these vulnerabilities creating a demand for exploitation, and sociopathic tendencies and abuse push the trafficker to exploit these vulnerabilities as well to fill the demand and their pockets. The trafficker knows what to look for and what questions to ask their victims to determine whether they can be easily manipulated. Similarly, online predators look for empty spaces in a girl or boys life to prey upon. Today our society and culture also plays a role as it glamorizes the sex industry through music and on TV.”
One common misconception is that trafficking is for “other countries” or that it doesn’t happen in their city. One in five runaways will be trafficked and exploited. Knowledge is power, and I hope we all learn from these survivor interviews so that trafficking can be stopped!
Interview With Sex Trafficking Survivor #2
Today’s survivor interview is of Jaimee Johnson of Sisters of the Streets. Her story, her strength, and her determination to help others find freedom and strength in the world of sexual slavery is incredible. Please check out her website and Instagram page to learn more about what she is doing to be the change and check back throughout the day to learn more of her incredible story.
How did you end up being trafficked?
“I was struggling through an affair and being a young single mother when I met my trafficker at a nightclub and had too much to drink. In the midst of the night I had told him many things including where I lived and how me and my two daughters were financially hurting. The next day, he told me he could help take care of us and make sure I made plenty of money. I just needed to listen to him and do what he tells me.
I was hesitant at first but a week later when we were running low on food and gas, I called him back up and told him I wanted to take him up on his offer. Little did I know he meant prostitution. He took me to the track out here in San Diego off El Cajon Blvd and gave me some condoms and told me to get in any cars that have over $100 and do what they say as long as they are not black men. I told him “no,” and his face quickly shifted to anger. After he threatened me and told me how stupid I was and how incapable I was of even getting someone to pay for me when I had given my body to him for free a week ago.
I got out of the car and walked. I was pretty numb and it’s kind of a blur. I did a couple dates then I ended up going with these three women because they said their military boyfriend had $400 for me at his hotel. I agreed and instead they took me to their pimp, who robbed me and dropped me off on the street nearby. Come to find out my pimp at the time set the whole thing up so I’d become indebted to him.”
Let freedom ring! Thankfully Jaimee is free now and is using that freedom to be the change in our society.
How did you get free from sexual slavery?
“One day I decided enough was enough and ran away. [Then] I was free from pimps, but still relying on the game to support myself. I realized it was an addiction. After I got pregnant with my son and tried to go back, God spoke to me and told me I wouldn’t make it out if I went back . . . he didn’t bring me out the game and give me all these chances for me to go back to die. So I created my organization, Sister of the Streets, and have been moving forward ever since.”
Our next post contains content which may trigger sexual assault victims. We apologize if this next post, or any of our posts, brings up painful or hard emotions. Our goal is not to do that, but to accurately portray the entrapments and oppressions of the sex industry. The next question is an important one because it gives an accurate portrayal of what many in the sex industry endure to those who are unfamiliar with it. It begs the question, are porn and prostitution victimless crimes? If you feel you might be triggered by this next question, please skip forward. -With love and sincerity, the LBD.Project team.
What were some of the worst parts of being trafficked?
“Where do I begin? Being a commodity . . . selling myself for sometimes as low as $60 just to meet my quota. Not being fed. Being isolated from the outside world. Being on the street for 12-14 hours at a time with no food, out in rain, cold, etc. . . Beatings by pimps and johns. Broken noses. Threats to my children. Being kidnapped. Being raped and stabbed. Being held at gunpoint to give a man a blow job. Being gang raped. The mental abuse and manipulation. The drugs. Suicide attempts.Turning out girls who never knew about this life . . . sometimes ones who were even eighteen. The list goes on and on.”
As we finish up our first survivor interview with Jaimee Johnson, founder of Sisters of the streets, we hope her truths have been thought provoking and eye opening to you all and have inspired you to get involved in being the change.
What do you want the world to know?
“Please educate yourselves on this issue. Its not a foreign issue. It’s not an issue of choice. It’s a deeply rooted social issue. There are so many factors to the people who suffer in this world. On all sides (the pimps, the exploited, and the johns). This issue can’t be solved by division or sides. It has to be deeply examined to bring all points together. The demand issue, the porn industry, the need for voids within ourselves to be filled, economy, lack of awareness and education, abuse growing-up or into adulthood, neglect . . . everything plays a part.
Please pay attention and know how hard it is to heal from this vs. prevent it. Please educate yourselves with open hearts and eyes and remember that exploited people are STILL PEOPLE. Sometimes we are just screaming out for someone to help us or believe in us.
Also, please support survivor led organizations and movements, they are the experts in this field and the experience you gain going through it and overcoming it is far more advanced than any book can ever tell you. Listen to our voices, listen to our ideas and passions, listen to our stories without feeling sorry for us but in fact recognizing how much we have overcome. We are not the weak, we are the strong and we can make a difference in this world.”
AWARENESS- When we share about Human Trafficking through movements like the LBD.Project we help open up the eyes of the blind. When we wear our Little Black somethings this March, we wear a platform for discussion, for awareness, and for change. Will you help to educate people on stories like Jaimee’s? We hope you will join us this March!
Picture Credit: Susie Fiebich Photography.