Image by Erik Mclean

Ana

Have you ever tried to start a diet where you keep saying “next Monday”?  And then when you start, you are all excited right up until it gets a little hard to keep going…well that’s me right now. I had tried before to write my story right up until I got anxious and uncomfortable. But here I go…

Have you ever tried to start a diet where you keep saying “next Monday”?  And then when you start, you are all excited right up until it gets a little hard to keep going…well that’s me right now. I had tried before to write my story right up until I got anxious and uncomfortable. But here I go…

 

When I was 15, I fell in love with a 32-year-old man. He was my first love and, unfortunately, I did not know what to expect from our relationship; but for me it was perfect. Seven months later I ran away from home to live with him. Five months later we moved to the USA where he promised me a better life. Instead, he trafficked me in some apartments. While we were in Mexico, he was basically grooming me for this. After two weeks at the apartments, he moved me to a cantina because I wasn’t making enough money for him. The first couple of days at the cantina I would sit at the bar and not look at the people. I was scared because I was fresh meat. One of the watchers told my trafficker I was not cooperating. My trafficker beat me up pretty badly and then forced me back to the cantina, in pain and bruised. Then every night before bed, my trafficker would come in and hug me. If I tried to pull away, I was punched in the ribs. I was trafficked at that cantina for three months.

 

One day we were stopped at a gas station and, by the grace of God, some family members were there. They recognized me. They invited us to dinner and my trafficker said “yes” because he did not want to appear suspicious. During dinner, my trafficker would always talk over me and answer for me. My aunt noticed this and a few days later decided to contact the police and they were able to rescue me. Lawyers contacted me wanting me to testify against him. I also shared my story on the news. I thought all of this would help me heal. But 10 years later, I was still in a very bad mental state. I wanted to commit suicide. I knew I needed help so I went to church. That church had a human trafficking ministry and they connected me to Hands of Justice. I really didn’t think that I needed any kind of support, especially since 12 years had passed. But I joined one of the support groups and I’m so glad I did. I learned that even though I was “free,” I had so many invisible chains on me. I had continued to carry them for years. I was ashamed. I felt unworthy and insecure. I was ashamed of my body. I was scared to share my feelings, afraid of relationships. I would still ask permission for everything, even though I was aware that my current partner would not abuse me. I was afraid all the time. But being around others who have experienced the same trauma has helped me start to heal.

 

I have been introduced to other anti-trafficking nonprofits and have attended trainings. They have helped me start to understand myself better and to give myself grace and patience. This past year has been the greatest of my life so far. I worked on myself a lot and started sharing my testimony. I have been blessed to volunteer at two restorative homes in the area. I’ve seen firsthand how God can restore what we think is lost. Today I will continue to keep walking and doing life with other Survivors. I will keep praying that God will use me as a tool and that whatever I end up doing, will be for His glory.