Many people don’t understand why victims don’t just call the police or run to the nearest station. For me, it was the fear and shame. No, I wasn’t handcuffed to a radiator. But, I was emotionally and mentally enslaved for five years under this man, who at first I thought was my boyfriend. We ran into the police a few times. Once in a parking lot we were arguing for hours in the car and a neighbor must have been concerned. When the police showed up, they asked if everything was alright. We said “yes.” I didn’t dare say: “Help me! Rescue me! I am a victim of sex trafficking.” He slowly isolated me from my friends and family, persuaded me to leave college, and my job. Once we moved in together, I became even more isolated and couldn’t go food shopping without him allowing me to. He controlled the finances even though I was the one making the money - sometimes up to $1,200 a day. He wouldn’t come home for days, but I was expected to keep the house clean and the laundry done. I would have to train the other girls that worked for him because I was his bottom bitch.
I like to use the power and control wheel to show the major links between sex trafficking and domestic violence. The trafficker and the DV abuser have the power and control over the victim, and if she doesn’t see herself as a victim, then it will take longer for her to get out. If you are looking in from the outside, DV and sex trafficking may look the same. The major difference is that someone is being commercially sexually exploited in sex trafficking. The shame, trauma, and sometimes drug addiction that come with this life is a reality. I am so grateful for the work that began about 40 years ago with the domestic violence movement. I am hopeful that the anti- sex trafficking movement will have the same effects to help more women and children become free!
©2015. JasmineGrace. All rights reserved.
Jasmine Grace Marino is a survivor, advocate and activist. She has been raising awareness about human sex trafficking, supporting survivors, and lobbying to strengthen laws to address and prevent this hidden crime. You can read more about Jasmine at jasminegrace.org.
Through the help of survivors like Jasmine, the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and the 14 member program crisis centers are learning how to best reach out to and support victims of human sex trafficking. Advocates are available 24/7 to offer support, advocacy, information and emergency shelter.