Rachel Thomas, Cody Foute and D’Lita Miller were able to escape lives as victims of human trafficking, but most victims are not so fortunate. All three of them are now united by shared histories. They help educate and advocate on the prevalence of human trafficking and how others can prevent themselves and loved ones from becoming victims of abuse.
Foute was 14 when she was placed in a group home. She became a sex worker after a friend had informed her about the “glamour” of making money from having sex. She got the courage to escape in 2011 after she was beaten in front of her daughter.
Miller’s mom was on drugs and her father was absent. “I felt like a rag doll as I was held down and raped repeatedly by several men,” Miller said. She became a medical assistant, but ended up back in the human trafficking trade when she was unable to pay her bills and provide for her five children. Miller did not leave for good until she was 30.
Foute and Miller are now advocates for awareness of human trafficking. “We were victims; then we became survivors, but now we are leaders,” Miller said. They now warn others of dangers.
Pimps try to target youths by finding them at places such as the bus stop or online. They then coax the females into trusting them by treating them with kindness and making them feel loved. Soon, the pimp isolates his victim and starts controlling her by checking her phone. He abuses her and forces her to engage in sexual acts. Pimps often have a history of anger and violence issues. Some victims stay because they are threatened and fearful, while others stay to please their pimps because they believe they are truly loved by them. These women are belittled and their self-esteem shattered.
Human trafficking victims can come from even the most stable homes. Rachel Thomas, another victim, was born to an attorney and a deacon. While she was attending Emory University, a man approached her commenting on her beauty and said he could help her be a model. She refused, as she was planning on finishing college. She was approached again the same night, this time by a woman. She told her she was gorgeous and she should model. Thomas agreed to try it and was cast in a music video. She was excited and signed a contract agreeing to pay $25,000 to be represented by Candy Girl Casting for a year. Mike, Thomas’ “agent,” told her to do what he wanted. She dropped out of college and began working in a strip club and having sex with men for money. She had been tricked into human trafficking. Mike hit her, threatened to harm her parents and broke down her self-esteem. She was soon forced to become a recruiter, targeting women in college. Thomas escaped this lifestyle when another female victim went to the police. She began helping the police and was subsequently placed in the witness protection program.
Learn more at Chu-Ling Yee’s Daily Titan article: Former victims warn of human trafficking’s dangers.