Survivor Stories - Adela

End Slavery TN - Survivor Stories*




My mother will never receive an award for her parenting. I was always a commodity to her. Something to sell for drugs and booze as a six year old. Another hand to help her make crack in the kitchen. I have never been her child, her pride and joy. She never held me in her arms and whispered her love in my ear.

I was just Adela. The commodity. The nothing.

For awhile it felt like a blessing that she kicked me out of our apartment at sixteen. I went to live with some girlfriends and thought I’d be living the high life in the big city. Boy was I wrong about that! When the girls told me I had to earn my keep, they introduced me to a pimp. First time I saw him I thought he was fly. A real smooth talker. I felt flattered by his sexy talk and his coy smiles. But now I know, that was all just to butter me up. Get me to be his whore who’d turn tricks down at the track. Those flirty words were quickly replaced with hostile threats. If I didn’t make a thousand bucks a day, he would beat me. Or worse. One of them even cut up my face with a potato peeler just to mark me as his. It was still nothing compared to my best girl. She was killed in cold blood by her pimp, just as an example to the rest of us. "Stay in line and shut up" is what her body said.

I got sold so many times from pervert to pervert and pimp to pimp, I could hardly keep up with whose I was anymore. I was a dollar bill, folded up and passed from pocket to pocket.

I’m still not sure what snapped in me. Maybe it was having to ID my one friend down at the morgue. Maybe it was just that I was tired of being everybody’s nobody. Mostly, I think, it was that I got pregnant and I didn’t want my baby to grow up in the world I was living in. Whatever it was, I got out. I fled.

And when I was safe, I wanted to bring down every last one of them. So I talked to the feds, and I testified in court. They said I had been caught up in a major trafficking ring and that I’d still be in danger even though we got a bunch of them locked up. I didn’t care. I wanted to talk. Talk to anyone who would listen. Raise awareness about how trafficking isn’t just some foreign problem. It’s happening right under everyone’s noses in Good Ole America. This one nation under God with liberty and justice for all. Well, now that I got my liberty, I’m fighting for all those little girls like me that others can’t even see.

When I first got in contact with End Slavery Tennessee, I was a real mess. A hard life led to some real hard living for awhile. But advocacy groups like ESTN stuck with me through thick and thin. And now I’m about to graduate from college. College! Who could’ve dreamed such a thing just a few years ago?!

I was a sex slave in a slum city, but now I’m a blessed warrior with a golden ticket.

It’s like that verse in Genesis says – what they did to harm me, God used to bless me, so that many would be saved. I’m living proof that God uses the most unlikely of people to bring His own liberty and justice to those who need His deliverance

*These stories are written in the first person, even though they are not written by the survivors themselves. However, apart from the omission of names and identifying information, all aspects of the stories have really happened, right here in Tennessee.

How to Set People Free by Writing a Letter

By Sindy Lee Ho 866071-map-of-the-state-of-tennessee-and-their-flag

I never really paid attention in my high school government class, and really, I’m one of the people they make fun of on those snappy political commentary shows because I don’t know who the Secretary of Defense is.

It’s funny how caring about something that is affected by legislature changes your view of these things.

Since human trafficking is such a lucrative business often backed by organized crime networks, laws enforcing and prosecuting activities that crack down on these criminal organizations are tantamount in putting a halt to trafficking. In the area of human trafficking, an environment that punishes the source of demand and individuals peddling goods for that demand will be infinitesimally more effective in stopping the problem than prosecuting the one providing the services to meet said demand.

In the last couple of years, Sweden’s legislative body is one that has taken great interest in passing laws that discourage sex trafficking. In the U.S. Department of State’s 2008 Trafficking in Persons Report, Sweden is listed as a country that fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. With laws in place providing temporary residency for victims of sex trafficking and criminalizing the sale and brokering of sex, Sweden has one of the lowest trafficking rates in Europe.

What if, with our collective voices, we could make the United States a country with the lowest human trafficking rate in the world? What if, with our heads held high and our hearts poured out in the form of lobbying for anti-trafficking laws to be passed, we could make the beautiful state of Tennessee completely uninhabitable by traffickers?

There are bills being laid on the table now in our state capitol. You can find the talking points, the senator and house representative supporting each, and the bill in question by clicking here .The senate and the house will be voting soon. As citizens who can influence the decisions of our decision-makers, we can make a difference. In fact, we invite you to join us in making a difference.

The first step is to write a letter, on paper or in digital form, to the representative and senator from your district. You can find the appropriate individuals delegated to your community by clicking here.

Doing a little bit of research on each person can be helpful when deciding where to direct your efforts – for instance, the senator in my constituency has been an advocate for and assisted in passing many bills related to domestic violence; whereas my house representative is focused on matters fairly unrelated to human trafficking. We must do our due diligence and do the absolute most with the resources we have.

If you want to be even more involved, here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

  1. Print out a large number of form letters addressed to the appropriate legislator and leave a blank space for a signature and printed name at the bottom. Attach to an appropriately addressed envelope and affix a stamp. Give to as many people as will commit to sending them. Make it nearly effortless for people to do their part.
  2. If you are a teacher with curriculum related to modern-day slavery {or olden day slavery}, U.S. Government, state history, etc. – do a class project that allows your students to write and send letters to the appropriate assemblyman.
  3. Create a petition for a specific bill you feel particularly passionate about and get as many signatures as you can, then send it off to the right person.
  4. Make a phone call to your district assemblyman’s office and voice your support on passing human trafficking bills.
  5. Spread the word! Get as many people interested and involved as you can.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. I know you can come up with even more ways to spread awareness and raise support to get these bills passed. We are lucky to live in a country where the voice of the people still matters. You matter, I matter – and together WE matter. Together we stand to fight for those who have no voice.

Our founding fathers had a vision for our country to provide “unalienable rights” for everyone who dwells under the shelter of the flag. Among these were life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Abraham Lincoln poured blood, sweat, and tears into passing legislature such as the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment. Let us honor these visions for justice and freedom as we push to declare independence and proclaim emancipation for the slaves of our generation.

For as Mordecai told Queen Esther, we live in a time such as this, and to keep silent will mean a destruction of our people. Not only a destruction of our brothers and sisters trapped in the chains of slavery, but a destruction of the justice that houses our nation and our state.

Sometimes it can seem hopeless and overwhelming. It feels like we are just one little drop of salty water in a giant ocean, being drowned out by the crowd. And that may be true in some ways. But collectively, we are the ocean. Let the roar of our waves be heard as we pound the shore in our fight for freedom.