Firsthand Accounts

When Tonya was 13, she met Eddie (a pseudonym) at the apartment she was living in with her mother in the Dallas, Texas, area… Tonya was classmates with Eddie’s stepdaughter, so the two would often see each other at the apartment and in the local grocery store. It was there that the two first exchanged numbers.

It was a “normal” arrangement at first. Tonya would cook, clean and look after Eddie’s kids from time to time. However, it was when the two were at a party filled with alcohol and drugs that the relationship took a turn.

"He approached me and told me in so many words, ‘I want you to have sex with this guy for money,’” Tonya said. "I was very uncomfortable and I kept saying no, I didn’t want to do it. He kept telling me, ‘If you love me, you’ll do this. It’s just one thing. Just try it.’"

-Tonya, Texas

“I grew up in a middle class subdivision in western Canada, the oldest of 3 kids to parents who had a very tumultuous relationship that involved many visits by the police. My parents finally separated when I was around 11, and my mother was plunged into poverty. With no help to process my life I acted out through drugs, smoking, alcohol, and anger, lots of anger. That erratic behavior was more than my mom could handle and a safety risk to my siblings, so I was placed into government care just before my 13th birthday. And I—like so many other kids in government care—fell prey to the predators that hover around group homes, foster homes, and anywhere vulnerable kids congregate.”

-Trisha, Canada

Luiza Karimova moved to Kyrgyzstan at age 22 in the hopes of finding work. When a woman offered her a waitressing job in Bishkek, the capital city in the north of Kyrgyzstan, she welcomed the opportunity. After being told she was going to be registered as a waitress, she was informed that, "We were to be sex slaves and do whatever the clients wanted. The next day I was sent to a nightclub and told that I would have to earn at least 10,000 USD by the end of the month,” says Karimova.

Upon leaving the club one evening, Karimova saw a police car approaching, and instead of running away, she stayed to let the police arrest her. “I was deported back to Osh, and since my ID was fake, I spent a year in jail. I filed a police report, and three of the traffickers were captured, she said."

Now, Karimova works to prevent the exact situation in which she found herself. As an outreach worker with Podruga, she visits saunas and other places where sex workers may be.

-Luiza, Kyrgystan