This Survivor Escaped Her Family’s Sex Trafficking Ring Twice – Only To Come Out Stronger
Used and abused by her family since her childhood, Jessa has had a rough upbringing. She belonged to a family who would force her to do unspeakable things and abuse her sexually. She was even forced to pose for child pornography. Even before she reached her teens, her posing for pornography became performances, and she was raped in front of a camera on a regular basis. This continued throughout her childhood, and pimps would ‘buy’ her from her parents, to work for them as a sex worker.
The Life of an Abused Human Trafficking Victim
Jessa grew up in a suburban neighborhood in Canada, which looked “normal”, but her exploitation and abuse continued on a daily basis. Devoid of any education, she had never been to school, or had the good fortune of visiting her hometown, though she was forced to go the United States and other international destinations for the sole purpose of being exploited sexually.
At the age of 21, Jessa was approached by a woman who realized her plight, giving her a slip of paper with a name and contact details, asking the traumatized Jessa to call her in case she needed any help. This woman operated a “safe house” in Colorado, where he helped to rehabilitate human trafficking and sex trafficking victims in the United States.
A Daring Escape to Freedom
It took months for the young girl to gather up the courage to escape, since she didn’t even know that escaping would ever have been an option. The woman from Colorado was in constant contact with her – helping her get to the airport and arranged for a flight ticket. After escaping from a tortured life, she felt her freedom like the “sunshine that kissed her face”.
Although Jessa was free from the clutches of her captors, she was still in trouble. Her visa expired in six months, after which she had to go back to Canada. She went to Vancouver and was placed at a safe-house there, but due to the approaching Winter Olympics of 2010, the safe house in Vancouver was closed due to lack of funding.
Falling Back into Slavery
With nowhere to go, and at a vulnerable location, Jessa was again approached by a woman who promised to take care of her, stating that she had a lot of trafficking victims who stayed with her. Once within her grasp, the woman told Jessa to work for her, and she again slipped back to the same vicious cycle of being exploited sexually in exchange for money. Being raped by men on a regular basis, she broke down mentally and emotionally, feeling numb emotionally and loathing her own existence.
A New Life
Jessa was able to escape the clutches of her captors for a second time, and was able to return to the “safe house” in Colorado, with the help of a few trusted friends and acquaintances. At the safe house, the director informed her that she could remain in the United States if she enrolled in college. Hesitant and afraid at first due to the lack of education, she literally took the words of the director of the safe house “If you can read, you can learn anything!”, and was able to crack her GED and get enrolled in college – something that she could not even dream of! She received a scholarship and finally graduated in Christian counseling. Currently Jessa is married and is pursuing her Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
What Should You Do If You See Someone Is Being Neglected Or Abused?
Abuse can take on many forms and look different for different people. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a special division to provide assistance to anyone who is undergoing abuse, neglect and exploitation. The system provides elder care services as well as relocation and protection against abuse at nursing homes across the country. Here are some guidelines to provide assistance to the elderly who you suspect are being ill-treated.
- If Abuse is Suspected, Who Should be called?
If abuse on an elderly person is suspected, with the danger not being immediate, the best course of action is to inform people around. To report abuse, it is best to call the Adult Protective Services (APS) in the state where the elderly is located. You can call the Eldercare hotline at 1-800-677-1116.
If imminent danger and threat is noted, please call the local police authorities or 911 for help.
If you think the abuse is being done at a nursing home, please contact the Long Term Care Ombudsman.
- What Kind of Information do I Need to Provide When I am Calling Someone for Help?
While calling someone for help, be prepared to provide details such as the name of the person, address, contact information and details about the cause for concern. Moreover, you might have to provide additional information such as known medical problems (confusion, loss of memory, other diseases); details about family and social support; and instances of yelling or abusive behavior meted out.
- If Abuse is Reported, What Course of Action Is Taken?
If you report about abuse, neglect or exploitation done to the elderly, the local Adult Protection Service agency decides upon the seriousness of the case, and whether it is in violation to existing state elderly protection laws. Deciding upon the severity of the situation, the agency assigns a caseworker to investigate the issue, and provide services to intervene in case of a crisis. If the case of abuse is not deemed necessary for crisis intervention, the caseworker works with local community and healthcare agencies to provide social and health services for the said person.
In addition, to ensure safety and security of aged and elderly people with disabilities, who are prone to neglect and abuse, the Adult Protective Service agency provides suitable social services. People who do not possess the condition to take care of their own selves, or protect themselves from mental and physical harm are provided assistance in the form of various basic needs such as medical requirements, legal counsel, housing provisions, law enforcement and other services to protect the their rights, as well as prevent abuse and neglect.
Which Are The Agencies That Respond To Reports of Abuse Against the Elderly?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has allowed various governmental, law enforcement and non-profit organizations to protect the rights and interests of vulnerable elders and adults. Each state has its own Adult Protective Services, in tandem with other Social Service bodies investigate allegations of abuse and neglect against the elderly, with additional services offered to protect victims. The local law enforcement also plays a proactive role, particularly in situations of physical or sexual assault. In some states where abuse of the elderly is a crime, the report is usually lodged at the local law enforcement agency. Each state also has a Long Term Care Ombudsman who provides assistance against abuse in nursing homes and other elder-care institutions.