Restoration after Being Trafficked
– By Mitzi Perdue
Almost daily, Alicia Corrado confronts a great mystery. She’s the Executive Director of the North Star Initiative, an organization helping survivors of sex trafficking. The mystery is, how can survivors of sex trafficking be so unimaginably resilient?
When you hear about some of the survivors she works with, you would think that restoration to a life that’s anything near normal would be impossible. Take the case of the 27-year-old woman we’ll call Lauren.
When Lauren was 18, she aged out of her Child Protective Services program. She was on her own with no job and not being able to pay rent, she became homeless.
Being homeless didn’t last more than a couple of days because of what she initially thought was a fabulous stroke of luck. She met a 40-year-old guy who offered her food and shelter.
It was a stroke of luck, but the luck was bad luck, as in terrible, horrific, catastrophic bad luck. The guy was a sex trafficker. He controlled her with threats and beatings and terror, and for the next two years, he forced her to have sex with multiple strangers each night.
It was a nightmare, and it would be easy to imagine that nothing could be worse. However, when she turned 20, things turned incomparably worse.
Things Got Worse
At 20, she was no longer useful to her first trafficker because his clients preferred younger women. The guy sold her to another trafficker, a man we’ll call Rolf. Unfortunately for Lauren, Rolf specialized in serving clients with fetishes.
In order to dominate Lauren completely, Rolf kept her in a box that was long enough for her to lie down in, but not tall enough for her to stand up. If she were kneeling, her head would touch the top of the box.
You might think that being in this box-cage was a ghastly experience. However, Lauren grew to cherish the box. While she was in it, she was safe from the worse things that happened to her when she had to leave her box.
Outside the box, she had to endure fetishes, like golden showers or bear hugs. You probably know what a golden shower is.
You may not know about a bear hug, or at least the most abhorrent part of “the bear hug.” It’s a kind of hug, but it can involve defecation on a woman’s chest and then hugging her, so the brown stuff smears all over her.
In addition to the almost unthinkable fetishes, she was subjected to–and there were others–Rolf wanted her to look child-like. The look he wanted was prepubescent, no breasts or pubic hair.
To achieve this evil goal, he provided her with near starvation amounts of food. Lauren is 5’ 5” tall and she ended up weighing 94 pounds.
Lauren escaped when she was 22. Rolf had allowed her to go to a thrift store to get clothes, but he was still watching her. During a moment when he wasn’t watching, she slipped out the back door and escaped.
Law enforcement helped her, but for almost a year, her life was still nightmarish. The problem was nobody would believe her.
“Nobody would do something like that,” they told her. “That just can’t be possible.” She was diagnosed as schizophrenic, and even ended up briefly in a psychiatric hospital.
Things changed when someone took her story seriously. A hero from law enforcement believe dher enough to check out her story. To his horrified astonishment, he found the box exactly as she had described it.
Once people realized that she wasn’t crazy, and that this really had happened, Lauren had a chance for recovery. She was referred to the North Star Initiative and for two years received restorative services.
Alicia Corrado “walked with” Lauren through those two years of trauma-informed care. Corrado likes to use the words “walked with” because she doesn’t put herself above Lauren: they’re walking side by side in making Lauren’s recovery possible
“It’s a faith-based approach,” points out Corrado. “We do practice trauma-informed care, but love and faith play a large role in this. We believe that restoration comes through faith, and love. Our program isn’t designed to make you a Christian, and you don’t have to be a Christian to participate, but the principles we follow are based on love, restoration, and redemption.”
Today, Lauren has a full-time paying job, working in a green house. The job means she has the money to pay for her rent and daily expenses.
It’s mysterious, isn’t it, that an individual could have so much resilience that she can today have a life that approaches being normal. Corrado gets to see these miracles over and over again.
For more information, come to: https://northstarinitiative.org. Corrado would love to have additional support so they can expand their services.
About The Author
Mitzi Perdue is a businesswoman, author, and Founder of Win This Fight, Stop Human Trafficking Now. She holds a B.A. degree with honors from Harvard University and a Master's from George Washington University. She's a past president of the 40,000 member American Agri-Women, and she was a U.S. Delegate to the United Nations Conference on Women in Nairobi. She was also a Commissioner for the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science. Her Scripps Howard column, The Environment and You, was for years the most widely syndicated environmental column in the U.S.
She is the founder and president of “Win This Fight! Stop Human Trafficking Now,” an organization that raises funds and awareness for other anti-trafficking initiatives.