“I’m a white girl from America, and it happened to me.”
After seven years of violence and captivity, 32-year-old former sex-trafficking victim Jasmine Marino-Fiandaca is speaking out. She entered the sex trafficking industry at the age of 18 via her “boyfriend”, who lured her in by “grooming her” and showering her with gifts and attention. He convinced her that she could make a lot of money working in these “massage parlors” in Connecticut. Jasmine said it wasn’t that she was unloved at home, but that this seductive boyfriend gave her attention her busy family didn’t. She began working 15 hour shifts at these parlors and was abused, both physically and emotionally, by her armed pimp in order to prevent her leaving.
The way in which Jasmine’s pimp “made her feel special” is one of the most common ways traffickers lure young girls into the industry. Jasmine’s “boyfriend” was not much older than she was, so why would she have ever suspected he would turn out to be a pimp? Our toxic society is pumping out vulnerable girls like a factory and these girls are serving as perfect bait for traffickers. Jasmine’s young adult life was stolen from her and her family. She had no idea how to get help. When she finally hoarded money and escaped two weeks before she would have been arrested and charged, she realized she was pregnant. While she did escape the traffickers, she remained in the prostitution industry for a few years. Like most trafficked women, she suffered PTSD, depression, and other post-traumatic side effects that led her to drug abuse. She had two children, became homeless, lost the support of her family, and grazed the clutches of death. She finally became clean when a therapist encouraged her to attend AA and she begin to attend church services. She is now helping young runaways and sharing her story.
I think that Jasmine’s journey is a spot-on example of how tragically the effects of trafficking linger past the physical escape from the shackles of the sex trafficking industry. Most girls who “escape” are not in the clear. When all you have known for the past few years of your life is objectifying your body and using it for money, it is hard to get away. Most girls fall right back into that lifestyle and also fall victim to substance abuse. I think that a lot needs to be done in our society to aid these truly lucky girls that escape the sex trade. Being a psychology major I am very interested in mental health and post-traumatic counseling and therapy. There is not much to offer these girls in America and that needs to change. They can’t do this on their own.