“I grew up in chaos and poverty. My dad left us when I was three because my mother could not stop using and drinking. Without him around to protect us, I was sexually abused by my mom’s boyfriend when I was seven. So when a pimp noticed me walking down the street when I was 13, I know he knew I wanted someone to love me. I was like a walking target. He wined and dined me and made me feel special and I fell in love with him. There was no way a thirteen year old who had low self esteem could really know what was happening. But once he had me in love with him and wanting to please him, he put me out on the street to make him money. We travelled all over the United States for seven years and the abuse I went through made me want to give up and die. I felt nothing and was so empty it would have been easy just to die. I found Journey Out because the court sent me to the program. I had lots of court cases by then but I slowly worked my way out of that abusive life and away from my exploiter. It wasn’t easy and it felt like I would take one step forward and then two steps back. But all of the hard work paid off because today I have my college degree and I work at a nonprofit with homeless and mentally ill people. I find I can really understand them and really help them just like Journey Out helped me. I got love, support and hope when I needed it most from the staff at Journey Out and all I want to do is give back to my clients what I was given.”
“I’d be back out ‘there’ if it wasn’t for Journey Out. Washington is my home state, and for years, I was letting myself slip away into a lifestyle I thought was fit for a ‘grown woman’. Little did I know pain, agony, trauma, desperation and helplessness would be the world I introduced myself into. I allowed it to become my reality. Nearly the age of 18, I had already been through two drug treatment centers and a wilderness camp and I thought my world was finally going to turn around. Without truly digging deep into my insecurities and abandonment issues, and not changing my thought process and truly believing in a higher power, I ended up back in the life. I had met a man and fell in love with him. I thought I found a home with him, I thought he loved me, and that I understood why he made me do what he made me do. But when I told him I wanted to stop he got abusive, he never let me go anywhere on my own, he threatened my family. Soon I didn’t care if I lived or died, in fact, I thought dying was better. Until I got on a plane and came to Journey Out I thought dying was the only way out. I probably wouldn’t be alive if not for Journey Out. I think I owe you my life.”
Betty had been sexually abused as a child and sold by her father to a pimp at the age of 16. Betty’s pimp commercially sexually exploited her for a little over 4 years and when Betty finally escaped the abuse and violence of the Life, she did not have the skills and education she needed to get a job, so she continued to do the only thing she knew and remained in the Life for another 3 years. Betty came to Journey Out because she received an outreach packet from our Street Outreach Team. She come into the Drop-In Center every day and completed the outpatient program, working on her resume, applied for employment and received tutoring for her GED. Betty recently became pregnant and Journey Out assisted her into a safe home for pregnant women where she can continue to work on her recovery from sex trafficking and have a stable environment for her and her new family.
Annie is a 23 year old woman who was forced into “the Life” by a pimp who she thought was her boyfriend. Prior to her exploitation, Annie was in a Master’s program at a local university. Annie admits she was vulnerable for recruitment because she had led a sheltered life and when she went to school she was unaware of the tactics that pimps and traffickers use to lure young girls into sex trafficking and the world of commercial sexual exploitation. During the course of the relationship with her boyfriend, Annie said he romanced her and then forced her to have sex with others for money using violence and threats. After her escape from the man who was trafficking her, Annie reached out to Journey Out to attend support groups. While connected with Journey Out Annie obtained employment, and the Journey Out Case Manager connected Annie with a therapist in her neighborhood and she now receives therapy on a weekly basis. Annie stated that she was very pleased with the program and she was happy to attend groups where she felt free to talk openly about what she went through while she was being sexually exploited. Annie plans on returning to University for her Master’s degree in the near future.