Sex trafficking: A local survivor shares her story | Guest column

by Morgan Meadows

Waking up at 3 a.m. is not unusual for me. Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are a recurring part of my life as a survivor of domestic sex trafficking in my childhood and my young adult life.

However, waking up at 3 a.m. this past Friday, June 26, held a tremendous and deeply personal gratitude for all those who participated in the “Chosen” documentary film showing this past week. What’s a former victim to do at that dark and holy hour but reflectively write an article and prayerfully plan her day?

To the 70-plus community members on San Juan Island, and the nearly 40 members from Orcas Island: Thank you! Thank you from every cell of my being for stepping bravely out of your comfort zones to hear the truth about domestic minor sex trafficking in our region. Many blessings go to Jo and Nick Lembo, devoted representatives of Shared Hope International and regional experts from Vancouver, Wash.

You provided us with the snap-shot we needed to start to respond to this growing social crisis, offering tools and resources to influence our community-based education going forward. The graceful way you supported my efforts to speak my story will linger for a long time. You enabled me to reveal, safely and for the first time publicly, some of the resiliency it takes to be a survivor growing toward my wisdom years and potential thriving.

No one has all the answers to the complexities of domestic violence. But collectively, we are the solution. Coming full circle into the work of advocacy and healing outside of DMST looks like this for me:  Share the truth of my story, attend to other survivors and put into practice an education that restores human dignity to all.

Here’s an opportunity for professionals and common folk to gather and plan strategies for eliminating the horror of modern-day enslavement in the teen sex trade. The depth of questions asked during the film’s Q&A sessions has convinced me that there is such a thing as a right time and a right place for this community conversation. And it is NOW.  Visit www.sharedhope.org for free downloads and resources. The founder of Shared Hope Congresswoman Linda Smith, says “The more people who know, the smaller the world gets for those who buy and sell our children.”

Sponsors for the event were Soroptomists of FH, San Juan Community Theatre, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services, Sea View Theatre and Vision Accomplished Services, LLC.