The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across a keyboard

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Being the Victim of Human Trafficking - Prt 2 Information for Writers

Trafficking In Persons Report Map 2010
Trafficking In Persons Report Map 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Once again, I want to thank Brynn, the survivor of a human trafficking ring, for her bravery in sharing her experience with us. I hope it helps my fellow writers to capture the truth in their writing. Since the time when this crime took place, Brynn has earned her LMSW and focuses her work on victims of crime.


“If you’re a good girl, we’ll let your family find your body,” A phrase that to this day, reverberates in my ear on a daily basis never changing. I can still hear his voice, smell him, and remember the chill that went down my spine as he said the words. 


I never knew his name, still do not. But I can describe what he looked like, how he spoke, the utmost authority he seemed to command from all those around him. I can describe being dragged through an empty field and how I tried to run. I didn’t get far before he had me in his grasp again, chuckling as he puffed on his cigar. He casually pulled a pistol from his pocket and stuck it to my temple before whispering in my ear that horrid phrase.


I was a nineteen-year-old college student at the time, living in an upper-middle class neighborhood in the United States. That night, March 18 2004, I had just come home from work as a gymnastics coach and was more than ready to enjoy my dinner and a home to myself. My family had left for Spring Break the night before, but because of my schedule I elected to stay home.  


I was distracted, unaware of my surroundings—my home—my driveway. I was safe. I was home. I only realized something was wrong when I heard something behind me. In an instant my world seemed to go in slow motion, a bag was suddenly thrown over my head at the same time that I unlocked my front door. 


I was abducted by strangers, abducted by three people I had never seen or talked to before that night. They had no concern for my life, no concern for what they did to me. They delivered me to a house a few miles away from my home. They traded me for drugs. I was abducted and traded into a human trafficking ring in exchange for three “dime bags.” 


Human trafficking.. modern day slavery. It occurs everywhere, including in the USA. Before my abduction, I didn’t think “that” happened HERE, only in other countries. Human trafficking is in itself a cluster of other violent crimes occurring at the same time. At least it was in my experience. 


I remember literarily being “bought” and my traffickers being paid upwards of $1000.00 depending on what they were requesting. This is not a small crime, in one night, I “made” close to $10,000. None of which went to me. 


FBI Badge & gun.
FBI Badge & gun. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There were no rescuers coming to me. There was never a missing person alert. No Hollywood scenes like I prayed there would be -- the FBI busting into one of the abandoned barns I was locked in, or the police department running in and wrapping me in a blanket as they helped me get to freedom. No. There was none of that. 

In fact, on multiple occasions, I was in direct view of first responders. Once, while at a fast food restaurant awaiting another “customer,” I was seated directly across from two police officers. I silently prayed they would look at me, see the signs of trafficking, see the signs of despair. My heart sunk when they smiled at me and spoke to my traffickers about some meaningless topic. I almost cried when they walked out the door. 

I was in stores, restaurants, parks, out in public view and nobody could see what I was so desperately trying to plea. Help me. I look back and realize it wasn’t anyone’s fault, after all could anyone who is reading this tell me the signs to look for in human trafficking?


My ordeal lasted four days. During those days and nights I was tortured; I was buried alive as a form of punishment for disrespecting the leader and saying “no.” I later found out they didn’t want to kill me YET because I brought in the most money for them. On the fourth day I was taken to a motel out of state and sold again to a particular man who abused me.


Since then, this man has been identified. He killed himself in prison. While there is no concrete evidence that this man was tied to my case in anyway, I KNOW it was him. I cannot “prove it.” I cannot tell you much about him because he simply saw me and treated me as an object. But I can guarantee that this man was the man who screwed up. He screwed up because after he had handcuffed me to the bed, he proceeded to take a hit of heroin. He passed out cold and left the key within my reach.


I rescued myself when I unlocked those cuffs, stood up, dusted myself off and walked out that door without looking back. 


Human trafficking in the real world is nothing like it is displayed in movies or books. Victims and survivors are not always gorgeous, do not always have someone looking for them, do not always fight and struggle.


And then there is this...

I was assaulted by well over a hundred men, the vast majority of them are free. Some of them seemed to believe that I was going to die because they didn’t bother covering their faces, some told me about themselves. A few were doctors, some were lawyers, one was a cop, one was a teacher, another a priest. 



Human trafficking. Main origin (red) and desti...
Human trafficking. Main origin (red) and destination countries (blue). Data from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2006 report (http://www.unodc.org/pdf/traffickinginpersons_report_2006-04.pdf) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It’s been nine years since my abduction and every night I still have nightmares, I still feel like I am still there. It doesn’t just go away. It never will. I am still scared. 



If you looked at me, I am not what most people think of when they think of a human trafficking victim. That’s because I am not. I am a survivor of trafficking, I am a daughter, a friend, a sister, a cousin and so much more. Those four days in hell have drastically changed my life, and I know that for the rest of my life it will haunt me. However, I can advocate for change, advocate for awareness, advocate for accuracy in portraying this problem. And hope that anyone who reads this has gained some insight into this crime.

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6 comments:

  1. Horrific experience for Brynn. Kudos to her for being courageous enough to share her story.

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  2. This sounds horrific! But there's something I don't understand... if she was out in public where there were police, why didn't she yell for help? What am I missing from this story? Were the traffickers threatening her family? Was she unable to speak for some reason? Maybe these are ignorant questions, but I really do just want to understand the situation.

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  3. Brynn's reaction was a typical victim response. She has seen women tortured and killed, and her kidnappers held complete sway over her. She actually sat across from some police ata fast food restaurant, but could not say anything -she was too afraid. I should probably do an article on victim response in captivity. Hope this helps, Heather.

    Fiona

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    1. Brynn still deals with PTSD and had what I believe was NEAD (she was diagnosed after the trauma with epilepsy) I have an article going up this month about that.

      Fiona

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  4. Also remember that this doesn't just affect women. It affects men, too - and it's not always about sex. There's an article here about men trafficked from Bangladesh to work in a hotel in Scotland: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/may/28/slavery-human-trafficking-hotel-workers-bangladesh-scotland

    The men were not kidnapped: they were tricked into going to Scotland to work (and into paying huge amounts of money for "visa fees"), and then kept in a remote area with no money and no resources, with punishment and hard work to keep them dazed and compliant. Their families were threatened with death and injury if the men did not keep paying off the debt, and the men were further threatened with being deported back to Bangladesh if they reported their captor (thus resulting in their visas being withdrawn).

    Like with Brynn, you might wonder: Why didn't they just walk away? There were roads. There were people around. Surely someone would have helped?

    The thing is, when you are that afraid of someone, it's hard to believe that it's possible to get away: they start to seem superhuman. It's not about what's logically possible or not - it's emotion in the driving seat. And if you've been punished once (or many times) for being disobedient, then it's even more difficult to make yourself take the risk. If you only have one chance, and it's success or die - what does it take, how desperate do you have to be, to take that one chance and risk everything? After all, once everything else has been taken from you - your home, your family, your money, your dignity - all you have left is your life.

    If it's never happened to you, it's easy to believe you'd react like the heroine in a thriller, and have a cool plan all mapped out, to escape and bring your captors to justice. Real life isn't like that. It's scarier and messier, and you can't skip to the last chapter to see if everything works out.

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  5. Wow. Thank you so much for having the courage to share your story. It seems... completely disrespectful to you and your ordeal to see it appearing on a site dedicated to helping writers tell better stories.

    But maybe if writers can tell those stories better (fictionalised or not), it will in some small way help to raise awareness of this scourge, and maybe, just maybe, someone might be able to escape it happening to them.

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