Sex trafficking survivor shares struggle to move beyond labels of her past

Photo: WKRN
Photo: WKRN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A local sex trafficking survivor is speaking out about her struggle to live a normal life after her ordeal.

Her pimp began selling her when she was just 12. Drugs, abuse and being sold for sex is all she ever knew.

Her body was sold to around a half dozen strangers a day

“I started using to keep me up all night because I would get beat if I fell asleep,” she said.

Photo: WKRN
Photo: WKRN

It wasn’t until she was arrested that she was able to break free from sex trafficking.

“I got into the life at the age of 12 got out when I was 18,” she told News 2.

After serving time in jail, she was told her pending charges would be dropped following completion of the Unchained Movement program, a nonprofit residential program for sex trafficking victims.

More than a year into the program, the 20-year-old landed a job.

“I really liked it, I liked what I was doing,” she said.

A background check almost a month later showed her pending charges and she was fired from her position.

“I want to feel like a normal person, I want to do what normal people do,” she told News 2.

Rachel Irby, founder of Unchained said the pending charges should have never shown up on her record and she hopes educating the public will help give women who are trying to break away from the chains, a second chance.

Photo: WKRN
Photo: WKRN

“How is it as a society can we help these girls? How is it that we can help them achieve their goals and get a fresh start in life without having to expose this really ugly and shameful part of a victimization that’s happened to them?” Irby asked. “No matter how hard I fight and try, I just get worn down and it’s like I have no fight left, I don’t have the energy to go on,” said Irby.

Irby said 150,000 teens are being trafficked every year and she hopes her program can help cut back on the number.

The trafficking survivor News 2 spoke with said she’s holding on to her dreams that she has drawn out and posted above her bed.

“I do want to own a house, I want to have kids, I want to be married,” she said.

But she said she needs society to look past her horrific childhood and forward to her future.

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