'I Was Drugged And Forced To Do Porn': Surviving The Sex Trade

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woman in captivity
A look at how human trafficking victims fare in life and love after surviving the sex trade.

Samantha* is 30 years old. She is a makeup artist, a nanny, a professing Christian and an advocate against human trafficking. This cause is near and dear to her heart because she has been there herself. At the age of 24, she wandered into what she thought was a job interview in Southern California and ended up being drugged, beaten, raped, and forced to work in the commercial sex industry.

As horrifying as this sounds, her story is not an isolated incident. Human trafficking is a $32 billion industry worldwide, and the United Nations has found evidence of it in 80 percent of the countries around the world. President Obama recently declared January to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month in response to some rather staggering statistics:

The Not For Sale Campaign, a nonprofit dedicated to ending modern-day slavery, estimates that between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked in the United States each year, with 30 million enslaved around the world. The U.S. Department of State reports that 80 percent of all trafficking victims are women and children that have been forced into the commercial sex trade, just as Samantha was. Yet, Samantha is a survivor and does not want that part of her life to define her anymore. It happened six years ago, and now she is free. Just like other women her age, she is searching for the right career as well as the right partner to one day spend her life with.

When I think about Samantha dating after all that she has been through, it strikes me how difficult it must be for her to open up and learn to trust again. She is willing to try, however—and her healing process has already been an incredible journey. It all began with one man who wandered into the club where she was stripping. It was this man's love and support, in combination with the counseling she received at a nonprofit organization called Treasures, that gave her the courage and strength to change the course of her life.

But before I go any further, I should tell you her story. It's heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time.

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