"'Just hush and please don’t tell.' That’s what he would say. Afraid of being home knowing he was there was so unfair. Knowing the gang could find me was not so good at all. It was him and it was them. It was both of them who took away my home.
"In the streets were I lived knowing I would get beatn was never fun. I was just this little young girl that was alone."
-from M's journal
We found M tucked away inside a juvenile hall. The tiny cell strained with the 16 years of severe trauma crammed inside with her.
Pieces of her story came tumbling out in relief – for the first time ever – when she heard the hope in our Traps of a Trafficker© child sex trafficking youth prevention-and-identification program.
At 11, her mom’s latest in a string of boyfriends took his turn sexually abusing her. She’d finally had enough. The thought of him walking through her bedroom door under the cover of darkness one more time was more than she could bear.
She joined the tens of thousands of other American children fending for themselves on our streets, determined that no one else was ever going to hurt her again.
When you’re 11 years old and fending for yourself on the street, what do you eat?
When you’re 11 years old and surviving alone, how do you stay warm and dry?
When you’re 11 years old and sleeping on the park bench, who do you run to at 2 o’clock in the morning when you hear those noises?
An epidemic of our children are running into the shadows of our cities to escape the abuse in their own homes. There’s always someone waiting in those shadows to pounce on their desire to be loved.
For her, it was the MS-13 transnational crime syndicate.
They lured her in with the same promise they and others like them offer our desperate children – protection, love, survival. With no one else to turn to, she fell into their trap.
That’s when they pulled out the murder, the rape, the ritual abuse, the exchange of her body to anyone who wanted it for money and drugs, the indescribable acts of loyalty demanded of her.
You see, it was too late now. She was theirs, caught in the web they had spun around her. It was either loyalty or her death, her family’s death. They tattooed her with three dots in the shape of a triangle to remind her the only way out was death, insanity or prison.
At 11, those three tiny dots screamed a clear and inescapable message.
She lived at the mercy of those three dots for the next five years, unable to escape the brutality and torture they brought with them.
Until….during one of her many stints in a juvenile detention facility, she heard the hope of The Traps of a Trafficker© and reached deep inside to find the courage to tell us just enough of her story to grab onto the edges of that hope.
We will be forever grateful that after she disclosed to us the juvenile justice system recognized her as a victim of child sex trafficking and released her to our care.
She came complete with a gallon-sized baggie of psych meds, a new one added each time another trauma expressed itself. After all, it’s sometimes easier to medicate our children than to heal them when they’re bouncing from one part of the system to another.
It took our psychiatrist just a few short weeks to weed down the psych meds to just one pill, so we could begin unpacking those traumas.
Alisa and Deena began working with her and were soon hit with a tsunami as the dam of pent-up traumas burst. It didn’t take long to realize we needed reinforcement, someone with experience dealing with ritual abuse.
A search across the county led us to one dead-end after another. We could find no one with the expertise to deal with such extreme torture. Determined not to give up on this child who life had failed again and again, we finally found Melissa.
We were on the first plane possible.
M watched three people pull their expertise together to design a unique plan for healing, based on her story and her story alone. The three of us watched as she encountered something within herself that she didn’t know existed – the strength to fight for her own healing.
The transformation had begun….
Not just for her, but for us and our agencies as we learned as we went.
It was a long, hard journey for all committed to her healing after her years in the arms of a blood-thirsty crime syndicate, but it was a journey that showed the three of us the power of transformation and the strategies necessary to create transformation.
The experience with M and many other children who have lived their own stories of torment at the hands of other transnational crime syndicates, local gangs and mom-and-pop traffickers has uniquely equipped M3 to create transformation in teams, agencies, structures, policies and procedures, and strategies.
We built M3 around case studies of M and other youth, giving you real-life treatment plans, triggers and other scenarios to equip you for the different aspects of working with a child who has been victimized by traffickers and buyers.
M3 is ready to design transformation for your agency and its unique story.