Selling Girls: a survivor's story
LONGVIEW - An East Texas survivor of sex trafficking shares her story for the first time.
She did not want to reveal her identity, so from this point on, her name will be Sarah. She tells CBS19 she never thought she would make it out alive.
"I cannot be silent about something so evil,” she said.
Sarah said in her earliest memories, she was being sold for sex. She still can’t shake one memory from when she was just 10 years old.
"I would oftentimes be drugged,” Sarah said. “Thrown into a vehicle and wake up in other cities all over Texas, and occasionally other states."
Her traffickers certainly not your normal suspects. Instead, they were well-dressed, educated, wealthy men.
Some were even members of her own family, forcing her to do things too graphic to speak about.
Her family was a part of gonzo child pornography and snuff films, which are violent child pornography, often times resulting in the death of the victim.
"I had burns on several places on my body. I've had my jaw dislocated more than once."
Looking at a list of torture weapons from a Google search, including saws, choking mechanisms and even fire, she said she has memory of multiple things on that list.
Sarah said this isn't what people think of when they hear sex trafficking. Her family was not finding girls online, at hotels or truck stops. Instead, it was a sick way of life passed down through generations, and she was simply the next in line.
"There were experiences that I didn't know if I was going to die that night or survive. I just kept believing I would,” Sarah said.
Hoping to find help, she turned to self-harm, thinking somebody would notice the marks.
"I needed somebody to tell me it wasn't my fault,” Sarah said.
It didn’t work.
She said family outside of her traffickers knew something was wrong, but they never suspected something so horrific.
In high school, Sarah went to a foster home, but that didn’t save her.
"Contact was still allowed with my abuser. Not only did the abuse continue while I was in foster care, but it escalated,” she said.
No matter how hard she tried escaping, she said her traffickers manipulated her, using torture, drugs and threats.
In and out of multiple foster homes, she finally escaped from it all when she was 18.
With nowhere to turn, and no high school diploma, she lived in a homeless shelter, and said it was hard to get anyone to listen to her story.
Now in her thirties, it’s her mission to have her story heard.
"There's still this misconception that all trafficking is pimping, prostitution and survival sex in strip clubs, hotels and truck stops, when the truth is, it's a whole lot deeper and darker into organized crime,” she said.
It’s been more than 15 years since Sarah escaped sex trafficking. She is happily married and going to college to study psychology.
Her abusers were never caught.