For a first-hand account of modern slavery, read one of these narratives from survivors of human trafficking.
Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds her Calling and Heals Herself, by Rachel Lloyd. In “Girls Like Us,” Lloyd reveals the dark world of commercial sex trafficking in cinematic detail and tells the story of her groundbreaking nonprofit organization: GEMS, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services. With great humanity, she shares the stories of the girls whose lives GEMS has helped—small victories that have healed her wounds and made her whole. Revelatory, authentic, and brave, Girls Like Us is an unforgettable memoir.
Walking Prey: How America’s Youth Are Vulnerable to Sex Slavery, by Holly Austin Smith. In “Walking Prey,” advocate and former victim Holly Austin Smith shows how middle class suburban communities are fast becoming the new epicenter of sex trafficking in America. Smith speaks from experience: Without consistent positive guidance or engagement, Holly was ripe for exploitation at age fourteen. A chance encounter with an older man led her to run away from home, and she soon found herself on the streets of Atlantic City. Her experience led her, two decades later, to become one of the foremost advocates for trafficking victims.
Stolen: The True Story of a Sex Trafficking Survivor, by Katariina Rosenblatt. “Stolen” is the true story of one survivor who escaped–more than once. First recruited while staying with her family at a hotel in Miami Beach, Katariina Rosenblatt was already a lonely and abused young girl who was yearning to be loved. She fell into the hands of a confident young woman who pretended friendship but slowly lured her into a child prostitution ring. For years afterward, a cycle of false friendship, threats, drugs, and violence kept her trapped.
Survivors of Slavery: Book of Narratives, by Laura Murphy. Slavery is not a crime confined to the far reaches of history. It is an injustice that continues to entrap twenty-seven million people across the globe. Laura Murphy offers close to forty survivor narratives from Cambodia, Ghana, Lebanon, Macedonia, Mexico, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, and the United States, detailing the horrors of a system that forces people to work without pay and against their will, under the threat of violence, with little or no means of escape.
Trafficked: My Story of Surviving, Escaping, and Transcending Abduction into Prostitution, by Sophie Hayes. The haunting, unforgettable memoir that took the UK by storm, Trafficked is a gripping first-hand account of a young woman who survived the horrors of human trafficking. Sophie Hayes, a young, educated English woman, was spending an idyllic weekend in Italy with her seemingly charming boyfriend. But the day of her return home, he made it clear she wasn’t going anywhere. Punching and shouting at her, he threatened to kill her adored younger brothers if she didn’t cooperate to help him pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars he’d racked up in debts.
The Slave Across the Street, by Theresa Flores. In this powerful true story, Theresa Flores shares how her life as an all-American, 15-years-old teenager was enslaved into the dangerous world of sex trafficking-all while living at home with unsuspecting parents in an upper-middle class suburb of Detroit. Her story peels the cover off of this horrific criminal activity and gives dedicated activists as well as casual bystanders a glimpse into the underbelly of human trafficking.
Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets, One Helping Hand at a Time, by Carissa Phelps. Carissa Phelps was a runner. By the time she was twelve, she had run away from home, dropped out of school, and fled blindly into the arms of a brutal pimp. Even when she escaped him, she could not outrun the crushing inner pain of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. With little to hope for, she expected to end up in prison, or worse. But then her life was transformed through the unexpected kindness of a teacher and a counselor. Through small miracles, Carissa accomplished the unimaginable, graduating from UCLA with both a law degree and an MBA. She left the streets behind, yet found herself back, this time working to help homeless and at-risk youth discover their own paths to a better life.
Slave: My True Story, by Mende Nazer. Mende Nazer lost her childhood at age twelve, when she was sold into slavery. It all began one horrific night in 1993, when Arab raiders swept through her Nuba village, murdering the adults and rounding up thirty-one children, including Mende. Mende was sold to a wealthy Arab family who lived in Sudan’s capital city, Khartoum. So began her dark years of enslavement. Her Arab owners called her “Yebit,” or “black slave.” She called them “master.” She was subjected to appalling physical, sexual, and mental abuse. She slept in a shed and ate the family leftovers like a dog. She had no rights, no freedom, and no life of her own.
Other Survivor Narratives
- “To Plead Our Own Cause: Personal Stories by Today’s Slaves” by Kevin Bales.
- “Sold” by Patricia McCormick
- “Radhika’s Story: Surviving Human Trafficking” by Sharon Henry
- “Survivor Stories: Real Stories. Real Change. Real Solutions.” Available at: http://www.equalitynow.org/sites/default/files/Survivor_Stories.pdf
- “Survivors of Slavery: Speak Out.” Available at: http://survivorsofslavery.org/survivorsspeakers/