Posts in Survivor Stories
7 Things Survivor Leaders Want You To Know

Today on the blog, we have the pleasure of hearing from Anna Ptak. Anna is an Overcomer of trafficking in the United States. She is an international public speaker who uses her voice to help create policy change in the trafficking realm. We admit that, while we try our best, we are not experts when it comes to telling stories of survivors. We're grateful to have Anna as an excellent resource for us to learn how we can communicate their stories and respect their humanity without re-exploiting them. We hope you'll lean in and listen as we are continuing to do in an effort to understand the complexity of this issue and honor those involved. 

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From Sold to Thriving: Kamlai's Story

Kamlai was only 10 years old when she was sold into a sex trafficking ring in Thailand. Sex trafficking and forced labor run rampant in Thailand. Young girls are vulnerable to recruitment for the sex industry.

Kamlai was one of several children recruited to service older men. After being sexually exploited for over a year, Kamlai was rescued when a signal was received by the local child protection board.

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A Rescue Operation in Ghana Frees 31

More than half of the 50,000 children working on Lake Volta are believed to be trafficked. The majority are 10 years old or younger. Some of them can barely swim. Children injured while doing this dangerous work often go untreated. They can expect no compassion from their owners. In some cases, boat masters maintain their control through violent beatings and withholding food.

IJM has been in Ghana since 2014, supporting Ghanaian authorities in their efforts to put an end to this oppression. Below is the real story of IJM's largest rescue in Ghana from 2017.


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Sober & Safe: Mora's Story

At 14 years old, Mora became a victim of human trafficking. It started with an online relationship. Looking for acceptance and affection, Mora's online relationship escalated. Her "boyfriend" got her addicted to heroin. He had her perform sexual acts for men on and at hotels in the area.

She wasn't alone. He would take her and several other girls to Buffalo and New York City to meet with men. What started out at as an innocent relationship turned violent when she realized that he was pimping out multiple women who were all reliant on him for drugs.

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Dignity Restored: Tia's Story

Tia was a bright and beautiful 15-year-old living in the South Carolina. She had dreams and goals and so much potential. Her life hadn’t been the easiest, but she was determined to do amazing things in the world.

One night while hanging out with friends, she met a man and even though she told him she was underage, he still forced her to go with him. He hurt her and posted her on the internet so men could buy time with her. She feared for her life so she complied with what he told her to do.

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Trafficked in the States: Audrey's Story

Audrey was an everyday American girl. She had a difficult childhood, full of family dysfunction and injustices, but as she neared her adult years she was getting on track to accomplish her hopes and dreams.

She was determined to begin working toward everything she believed she could achieve in life, regardless of her past.

When Audrey was 22 she was approached by an older woman who pretended to be a friend and mentor to her. She gave promises of helping her get her life on the right track and setting her up to reach her dreams. Audrey was thrilled and excited at the thought of having help in taking steps forward.

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On the Path to Healing: Nina's story

At 19 years old, Nina was referred to Mcmahon Ryan's Child Advocacy Center by the US attorney’s office due to a long history of being a victim of child pornography and long-term abuse.

Starting at an early age, Nina's mother and uncle would take pictures of her engaging in sexual acts. Her uncle forced her to perform sex acts with others and would sell and trade pictures of her.

At age 15, Nina, desperate to escape abuse, ran away from home.  

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Fearless Again: Sadhna's Story

When Sadhna* describes her childhood, her face lights up. She remembers running through bright green rice paddies around her village in India, playing with friends and plucking ripe mangoes from the shady trees near her home.

She was a bit of a tomboy—always up to some sort of playful mischief—and always fiercely loyal to her dad, mom and little sister back at home.

When her father died, though, Sadhna's perfect little world fell apart.

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Sixteen and Enslaved: Nessa's Story

CEBU, PHILIPPINES –At 16, Nessa was trafficked into a brothel. “During my time in the [brothel], I started calling out to my God and asking him why this was happening to me. Why had I been trafficked?” she says, adding, “I kept wondering if there was any hope for me to escape this situation, or if this was the end of my life?

Nessa was ultimately rescued, but the world grew dark in a new way when she soon went blind. It took years to work through the pain and shame that haunted her and required many people coming alongside her.

“The darkness has passed away, and my life today is colorful, ” Nessa says, now 25 years old. 

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From Dependence to Freedom: Sienna's Story

17 year old, Sienna, was abused by her father on a regular basis. One day, Sienna gained the courage to report the abuse. When she reported the abuse, her mother kicked her out of the house, leaving Sienna to figure out life on her own. After couch surfing for months, she met a man who offered her a place to stay and bought her new clothes.

After a month he told her she needed to pay him back. With no resources, he said he wanted her to start working for him and introduced her to, the website responsible for 73 percent of cases of suspected child sex trafficking in the U.S.

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Overcoming Shame: Mai Ling's Story

Mai Ling was a normal teenage girl from China. While she had big dreams for her life, she lived every day covered in shame. Shame because she was a girl. Shame because she was the youngest child in her family. Shame because she believed she was not good enough. Shame because she thought she would never accomplish anything.

But in the midst of it all, she still longed for the day she could be an adult, live on her own and have an amazing job. So the day she was told about a job opportunity in the beautiful country of Greece, she thought all of her dreams were coming true. She packed up all of her things in China and moved her life to the other side of the world in the hopes that her dreams would finally begin.

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Trapped at the Kiln: Justice Served

BANGALORE, INDIA – On March 10, 2017, justice was served for 12 former bonded labor slaves, as the wealthy brick kiln owner who had once trapped and abused them was found guilty for his crimes.

Back in 2010, this kiln owner had personally recruited impoverished women and men from small villages several hours outside Bangalore. He promised the families good wages to work in his kiln, but instead forced them to labor more than 12 hours a day for only a fraction of their promised pay. One of these families was Roopa's whose story of rescue we highlighted this Monday.

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Found in the Sex Trade: Milena's Story

She met her in drug rehab. Milena had finally made the choice to get help and get off drugs. She had gotten clean through a center in the Netherlands, found a job, got her own apartment and was on the way to creating a new start and a new life for herself.

Not long after she began heading in a healthy direction, a friend from rehab called her. She wanted to have coffee and catch up. Milena traveled to a nearby town to meet her old friend. But what she didn’t know was her so-called friend had ulterior motives.

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Trapped at the kiln: Roopa's Story

Roopa* and her family were caught in a relentless storm of violence and backbreaking labor. They were slaves

Every day from 2:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night, they molded, hauled and stacked hundreds of clay bricks with dozens of other slaves at a brick kiln—anxiously working to reach the daily thousand-brick quota or risk a vicious beating.

She was only 6 years old when her family became trapped at the kiln.

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Dear Freedom Fighter

Dear Freedom Fighter,

You may wonder if you have any impact. You may wonder if your posting of a photo makes any difference. Let me tell you, it does.

As a teenager, I was sexually trafficked by a 40-year-old man that I met at my part-time job. He started telling me things that I wanted to hear like how beautiful and amazing that I was. At that time, I could never speak for myself because I suffered from dark issues rooted in abandonment, sexual abuse, and being beaten by various people prior to meeting my trafficker. After a few months of living with him he asked me to be a part of his “art project” and do unthinkable things. I agreed because I had developed the mindset that power equaled control simply from what I had seen and heard in culture.

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