To Japan and Back: A Story of Human Trafficking

In 1984, a set of vulnerable personal circumstances – including drug addiction and having to live in her car – set in motion Marti MacGibbon’s  ordeal in human trafficking.

“Traffickers watch for vulnerability,” MacGibbon said. “I was living in my car, had a crazy boyfriend, [and I] was just trying to make ends meet. I wasn’t in touch with my family or friends. I was isolated and the person who trafficked me knew all of that.”

MacGibbon was raised in a typical middle class family in Muncie, Indiana. She was a successful standup comic who appeared with Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show.” MacGibbon said up until the appearance, she was a recreational drug user, but after the excitement of meeting Carson, she spiraled out of control.

It was then she encountered the woman who changed the course of her life. The unidentified woman was an illicit distributor of young women to serve Japanese businessmen. MacGibbon said, “I knew that’s what it was, but I was told it would be in a five-star hotel and I would be in control and I could make decisions about what I wanted to do. I was desperate enough to go, I took her up on it. I had a one-way ticket and very little cash.” Instead, McGibbon was imprisoned for two months, locked in an apartment and told by the traffickers “her body would end up in the bay” if she didn’t cooperate.

One of the businessmen MacGibbon was assigned to helped her make her escape back to the United States. He possessed intimate knowledge of the human trafficking trade and bought her freedom, MacGibbon shares in her book “Never Give in to Fear: Laughing all the way up to Rock Bottom”.

Unfortunately, MacGibbon’s case is only one of millions occurring every day. “Facing the numbers is hard for people to wrap their heads around,” said Gretchen Hunt, the training coordinator at the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Program said. “The natural impulse of people is to say that human trafficking doesn’t happen because it’s too awful. We don’t want to think it can happen.”

The National Human Trafficking Hotline number is: 1-888-3737-888

Learn more at Alyssa Dailey’s article: To Japan and back: Woman shares story of human trafficking.


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