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“You don’t look like a survivor…”

by | Jan 16, 2017

Writtin by a survivor of human trafficking

In school, I was creative, determined, intelligent. An above average student. I really loved to write and tell stories. I remember in my freshman year of high school my English teacher gave the class an assignment to write a short narrative, maybe a couple pages long. It sparked something in me. I stayed up late each night working on the project. By the end of the week, I turned in eight pages of an incomplete work. I esteemed myself highly, knowing that I had potential and was on the way to college, dreaming of one day becoming an author.

Then life happened, and my ambitions were soon quenched by trouble in my home. My parents separated and my sister I moved to a small apartment with my mom. She worked two jobs to provide for us. I lacked the skills or resources to understand my worth and value. My whole world was shattered. All of my intelligence counted as nothing. I went from a fractured home, into an abusive relationship that lasted years, to falling victim to being trafficked, and now a few years later after I share my story, someone says,

“You don’t look like a survivor…”

It’s a statement I hear quite often. Sometimes it is buffered with a preface that it is not really appropriate to say, but most of the time it’s not.

And it leaves me wondering,

What am I supposed to look like?

Is it strange because I enter a room with confidence because I am well spoken, and I dress like you? Is it strange because instead of being wrecked by my past, I have found ways to find purpose in it?

Much of who I am today has been shaped by being trafficked, but even more so I am the same little girl who had all those hopes and dreams, who was determined and creative. My traffickers tried to steal that little girl from me, they tried to steal my moxie. I believed the lie I would never amount to anything again, but I made it out.

Just like that assignment in high school, something has been sparked in me, and in the last year I have spent a lot of time speaking publicly on the subject of human trafficking, sharing parts of my story, encouraging audiences to advocate, seeking to change perspectives and offer hope.

To me, this is what a survivor looks like. She is empowered and determined. She is fighting for other survivors. She is chasing after the dreams she once had and finding new ones. She is that little girl who has grown into a mother, a businesswoman, an advocate. She can be anything she wants to be, and mostly she’s not that different than you.

(Photo cred: Lauren Trantham and Ride My Road)

This blog was part of the Breaking Misconceptions Blog Series. To learn more check out the rest of the series. 

What IS Human Trafficking?

Why Getting Out of the Sex Trade Wasn’t the Hardest Part

Why She Isn’t a Prostitute

The 5 Worst Things to Say to a Survivor

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Springfield Saturday

Hello Springfield! Come on down for a day of shopping, toffee tasting, and touring our space. Enjoy a community brunch with neighbors, and get the first pick of our seasonal items… all while supporting survivors of human trafficking.

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Birthday Party

Come celebrate Rethreaded's birthday and support survivors. There will be fun, games, raffles, tasty treats, and much more! We celebrate each year with a fresh theme and plenty of surprises, so be sure to stop in and help us celebrate another incredible year!

Come celebrate Rethreaded's birthday! There will be fun, games, raffles, tasty treats, and much more! We celebrate each year with a fresh theme and plenty of surprises, so be sure to stop in and help us celebrate another incredible year!

Mom’s Night Out

Enjoy reconnection, rejuvenation, and the opportunity to make a difference. This event is designed to uplift and empower moms while supporting a great cause. 

Engage in refreshing activities, enjoy specialty treats, and revel in a community of women determined to support one another through thick and thin.

This is a special event meant to engage moms with refreshing activities, specialty treats, and connections with other moms in the area.

Cocktails For A Cause

Meet with other Realtors in your area while you enjoy cocktails, networking, exclusive toffee tasting, and a personalized shopping experience while contributing to the care and support of survivors of human trafficking.

Are you in the real estate industry and looking to expand your professional network? Our Cocktails for a Cause event connects relators, interior designers, contractors, and other real estate industry professionals here in Jacksonville. You'll not only get the opportunity to network but also here from industry experts.

Women Empowering Women

Connect, uplift, and support survivors of human trafficking. Enjoy hors d'oeuvres, drinks, and Rethreaded’s unique upcycled products. Take part in authentic breakout group discussions about how to value and intentionally use your time. 

Proceeds from ticket sales provide employment, holistic care, and services for women in Rethreaded’s Survivor Development Program.

Connect with other women at our Women Empowering Women events. You'll have the opportunity to take part in authentic breakout group discussions and network with like-minded women in our community.

Mukti Freedom Gala

Join us for our largest annual fundraiser. Enjoy a champagne welcome, hors d’oeuvres, an open bar, seated dinner, silent and live auctions, entertainment, and dancing. 

As always, proceeds from this event go directly toward supporting survivors of human trafficking.

Our Mukti Gala is our largest annual fundraiser that helps us provide the resources needed for the survivor's development program. We would love your support at our next Mukti- which means "freedom" in Bengali - and help change lives with us. Plus, if you have the opportunity to join us in the festivities you'll get to enjoy an open bar, seated dinner, silent and live auctions, entertainment, dancing and so much more!

Human Trafficking Educational Panel

Join us as we discuss human trafficking prevention, dispel myths, and learn how to empower survivors. Experts will share their insights, experience, and perspective. Ticket proceeds support survivor care, support, and education.

Want to learn more about human trafficking prevention, dispel myths, and how you can empower survivors? Join us at one of our Human Trafficking Educational Panels where experts share their insights, experiences, and perspectives.