A sex trafficking survivor and advocate who gives a voice to those who have none
On being Victimized and its Lasting Effects:
"One of the biggest transitions was integrating back into society after being a victim of sex trafficking for close to ten years. I had no idea what was waiting for me in life after I was liberated. Just recently I sat outside, the sun shining down on me, while eating a vegan fiesta bowl as my car was being washed and I was thinking how simplistically freeing this all was. I thought about how just a few years prior I couldn't enjoy a meal, let alone go anywhere by myself without threats of violence.
My worst beating was when I was thrown down a flight of stairs after repeatedly being punched in the face and head. When I asked for help, I was strangled to the point where I passed out. I had suffered a concussion and couldn't even dial 911. After what seemed like an eternity I was met by a screaming voice throwing me into the truck as he drove me to my home to “help” clean me up. To my dismay, I was beat up on the drive to my place. Then, when I got home I prayed for the beating to stop, but he persisted.
This might sound surreal, but living in captivity has taken its toll on my body. I was diagnosed with IBS, anxiety and depression. I see now my entire body was living in a state of constant fear."
On HEALING BY Breaking Comfort Barriers:
"Living outside of my comfort zone has become my new normal and part of my healing process.
When I lived in Thailand for a year studying Tantra, I was living outside of my comfort zone because of how unfamiliar it was. I lived out of two suitcases, doing a lot of healing work to face my anger and fear from my past.
A few years later when I became pregnant with my son, I decided to move to California. I had nothing but some clothes and organic supplements. I literally started over at 33 with not a penny to my name, pregnant and severely oppressed by PTSD. But I decided to take control of my life: I was going to have a natural childbirth, raise my son in California, go back to school, and start public speaking as an advocacy platform for sex trafficking. This changed everything. Doors started opening and it was a very scary time for me. I remember driving an old beat up car from Texas to California at thirty-four weeks pregnant and feeling extremely uneasy, yet excited. As soon as my son was born, courage, strength, determination and a will to survive kicked in and forever changed me."
"AS SOON AS MY SON WAS BORN, courage, strength, determination and a will to survive kicked in and forever changed me."
On the Difficulty of VOICING her Struggles:
"Speaking out about my experience as a sex trafficking survivor still feels very vulnerable. It's not an experience most people can relate to. I’ve been judged and scrutinized when I’ve spoken out about my experience. I've been told by people on social media that I shouldn't dress the way I do, if I was truly a victim of human trafficking. They were basically saying that cleavage equates with being trafficked. I believe people see sexuality as being derogatory and that it warrants unwanted sexual behavior. However, now I believe in using my voice because, for many years, my fear paralyzed the voice I so boldly utilize now."
"I believe in using my voice because, for many years, fear paralyzed the voice I so boldly utilize now."
On her Ongoing Healing Process:
"My toughest fall was dealing with the aftermath of losing my 36 year-old brother. After my brother’s death, I suffered from extreme depression, and the PTSD from my sex trafficking resurfaced. Anxiety ruled my day to day life, as I was desperately trying to care for my son. I felt terrible that I had to take western medication to pull myself out of this dark time. But finally, I realized I had to go beyond medication to heal and put into practice everything I had learned from Tantra, yoga and my faith in God to work through the emotional pain. I learned about the benefits of therapy through sharing your feelings with someone. I also learned that healing is a process, not a project that needs to be completed and graded."
On ACCEPTING HER FATE:
"I no longer struggle with being brave, however, for a long time I did. I struggled with admitting my naiveté, and how I became a perfect target for sex traffickers. Many years after I was freed, I still couldn't admit that I was trafficked and I honestly didn't even know what had happened to me until I started doing some research for a school project. I learned that not only was I a victim of human trafficking, but that I had been trafficked for almost 10 years of my life. This realization was disheartening. I had been in denial for so long. And it took me several more years after understanding what had happened to even talk about it out loud to myself or to a therapist."
On Unsubscribing to Shame Through Harnessing the Power of Our Sexuality:
"I believe shame is one of the biggest causes of suffering and pain in the world. So I do not subscribe to feeling shameful about my past experiences because they are what have shaped me into the woman that I am today. If I had not experienced some of those less than stellar moments in my life, I wouldn't be able to have the voice needed to do the work that I do today.
There is a lot of shame around sexuality. I personally experienced this growing up and as an adult I was completely out of touch with my sexuality. This is why I am extremely passionate about the work I do today in helping women to tap into their sexuality and evaluate it without any kind of judgment. It is important to be OK with it whatever that sexuality might be. I feel like this there is a certain empowerment that comes along with owning your sexuality and being OK with it. Once you've reached that state no man or woman can belittle you.
I have met experienced professional female mentors who have discouraged me from opening up about breast-feeding and the way that I portray myself sexually. I've been reprimanded a lot for doing these things. However, because of the work I've done with Tantra, I believe in the sacred, spiritual, and sexual power that we all possess. It's time we start celebrating this power instead of shaming it. That's why I created Dance Om, a unique blend of yoga, Tantra, various forms of dance and sexuality weaved into world music to create an exotic dance journey! Women who've suffered from rape and sexual trauma have been liberated by this offering."
"I believe shame is one of the biggest causeS OF suffering and pain in the world. So I do not subscribe to feeling shameful about my past experiences because they are what have shaped me into the woman that I am today."
On Understanding the Importance of Self Love:
"Self love is a simple concept that most people grasp very early on. However, it took me well over 30 years to even begin to comprehend what it really meant. I can honestly say now that I am loving myself every day and through that love I'm able to love my son in the most abundant way and also give back to others through my teachings."
"I simply find my breath and choose to tell myself a different story."
On Calming the Fears of her Past:
"Fear itself is scary to me. I get in these places where the fear of everything plagues and terrorizes me. Usually during my PTSD moments where I don’t have the power of love, strength, growth and service. When I'm in these states, sleep doesn't come and anxiety cripples me with morbid thoughts. Thankfully I've been extremely blessed to have some of the knowledge I do and usually I'm able to move out of these panic states very quickly. I simply find my breath and choose to tell myself a different story."