We changed the names of course, but these are all true stories, vignettes of women who have come through Hepzibah House…
Born in Russia to an alcoholic mother and pedophile father, things were rough from the beginning. Sasha’s father was her first trafficker, but not before he shared his HIV with her. She was removed from her home and eventually adopted by an American couple when she was 14. Reactive Attachment Disorder prevented her from bonding to anyone – adoptive parents, counselors, or friends. She could only tolerate 6 days of safety and security before she fled…
Her dad, an executive in a Fortune 500 company, was also a pedophile. He must have thought it wouldn’t matter since she young, perhaps she wouldn’t remember? She did. Her mom was suspicious. She resented Emily and was extremely harsh. Her older brother was the golden child; she was the black sheep. Everyone said so. So no one was surprised when she turned to drugs. They just didn’t know what she was so desperate to escape from. Drugs led to stripping, drugs and stripping led to trafficking.
Tabbie’s mom was a crack head, but her dad was a gem. He raised her and her siblings. They were doing OK until he was electrocuted at work. Tabbie’s aunt showed up to take care of them until the insurance money came through, then she took them on a crack binge until the funds were gone. After her dad’s death, she struggled to support herself, toggling between employment and homelessness. But there was one job she could always count on…
Her well-to-do family hired nannies to take care of Serina – but mom was often jealous when Serina bonded with them. One nanny took it too far and molested her for several years. Longing for connection, Serina said nothing – but knew it was wrong, too. The confusion and shame created anxiety. Doctors prescribed meds, but sometimes she needed more… Heroin became her friend until it became her captor and prison guard…
Tall and beautiful, Lucinda, had an academic scholarship. A modeling job for a commercial turned into a porn shoot when the photographers spiked her juice with Xanax. She woke up the next day with hazy images of the shoot. A few weeks later, a friend asked her about her porn work – insisting she saw her in a video. Lucinda began to drink to deal with the shock and humiliation. Working in a strip club with easy money and access to alcohol seemed like a good idea – until a trafficker took
Nathalie had one pair of underwear as a child – so she would wash them out by hand and dry them in the microwave. She remembers cleaning her mom’s blood off the floor and walls after fights with johns or paramours. She remembers calling 911 for paramedics to revive her mom after overdoses. Foster care was no better. So she was sent to live with her dad who used her body to supplement his income. That was the only way she knew to make a living, but to do that she had to be high.
Her dad was low level mafia. When he died in prison, he wasn’t able to protect her anymore. Her mom remarried – not knowing her new husband was more interested in her daughter than her. So began years of molestation and manipulation. Then an accident changed her life forever. Opiates controlled the constant pain to a point… Heroin became the long term solution along with the traffickers too willing to supply it.
The man who placed the order had no interest in being a dad. Her mom braved the shame of being pregnant and single. Sammie? She just wanted someone to love her – but something was seriously wrong with her “picker.” Three boyfriends, one after another, trafficked her, selling her body to put gas in their car or pay the rent. They paid her in alcohol, keeping her sober enough to take clients, but drunk enough to not try to escape.
Her mom and dad worked, so her grandparents kept her after school. Her grandpa seemed to take a special interest in her, which turned sexual when she was 8. Her mom didn’t believe her. Neither did Grandma. As Maddie got into her teens, Grandpa introduced her to a friend of his. His friend was a trafficker. He introduced her to heroin, and exposed her to HIV since he insisted on “breaking her in” himself.
Letitia was born into slavery, in California, in 1985. Exploitation was the only life she had ever known. She said she had graduated from the 8th grade, but that seemed unlikely. The traffickers harnessed her rage and profited by putting her into women’s boxing. But when she began to lose, they “turned her out” on the street. Safety was so foreign to her, she sabotaged her stay within a week. If we ever get a horse farm, I think I will invite her back… I think Working with animals could help her learn how to trust.
The abuse started early in my family. I was still in diapers. Mom was an alcoholic. Dad was a pedophile. The first bar I ever went to, a handsome, well-dressed man introduced himself & bought me drinks. He told me he was a stable builder – he collected women to sell to a pimp. But I had no idea that I was next. In less than a year I was working the street earning money so we could live happily ever after…
My parents left us with relatives for months, who were irritated with our parents, but took it out on us. I can’t remember how many men molested me before I turned 13… When my parents did come back, they leased rooms out to friends, mostly men. What they didn’t know was these “friends” were molesting my sister & me. McDonald’s didn’t pay enough to cover the bills, so someone suggested I try the strip club down the street…
My mom and dad were checked out. We pretty much raised ourselves. Our house was the party house and my parents never asked about what we were doing in the fort out back. My older sibs introduced me to heroin when I was 10, began abusing me sexually soon after. So I ran away – things couldn’t get worse, right? Wrong! A trafficker picked me up…
Dad left mom before I was born. Mom remarried but her new husband couldn’t hold a job – but was always home, undressed, and waiting for me when I got home from school. He said I seduced him when mom found out and she kicked me out. My dad provided room and board, but no parenting. He kicked me out when I was 18. I went on a lunch date with a guy I had met who kidnapped and trafficked me.
Sara grew up in Puerto Rico. She met Juanita, a woman at work, who became her fast friend. Juanita told Sara about a job she could get her in the US. It sounded like a great opportunity, so Juanita came here with Sara to make the introduction to her new employer. The job opportunity turned out to be slavery – in the form of sex trafficking. It took her three years & multiple attempts to get out…
Abuse started so early for Mary Anne she has never known anything else. Domestic violence, incest, molestation, abandonment, neglect, betrayal – were all the norm. When DCF removed her from the house, she was put in a foster care home with older boys who abused her. When she went to juvenile detention for running away, she stayed an extra 6 months because no one in her family would take her back. No wonder she landed on the street with traffickers her only “friends.”