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. I was confused to find out later that, not only were there other girls but that he was distributing the content. I did not understand why this man would mass-produce these pictures of other girls because this was supposed to be our special project.
A few years later I learned what human trafficking was and that pornography is often a form of sex trafficking. It was then that I was able to label my pain and the healing process was able to begin. Due to the growth of awareness, I was not only able to label my pain, but I was able to understand how to use my voice for good. Prior to receiving healing, I remember there were days I would self-harm because I did not see a way out, or limit my food intake because I wanted to look like someone else.
In 2015, I was blessed to launch a fashion collection at New York Fashion Week with Dressember’s partner, Elegantees. The entire design process with the Elegantees team brought endless amounts of healing in my life. I am a very confident person, but to have an incredible team supporting me as I designed a collection for the first time was one of the greatest blessings since I left my trafficker. Fashion design became my voice. When someone experiences trauma, his or her brain development is stunted. However, the creative process helps people heal from trauma since it uses another part of the brain.
To promote modest fashion in a meaningful way takes the pressure off of youth to look a certain way. You are helping people learn how to celebrate their bodies just the way that they are. You are being the light of this dark world. When Overcomers cry out in pain, you are that person wiping their tears away and giving them hope. On the days I felt broken and lacking in believing that things could get better, I would be encouraged by freedom fighters like you.
As a result of being trafficked, the Overcomer’s voice is taken. If you do not take a stand who will? Like me, many people who are trafficked have a background where they felt abandoned or thought no one cared for them. Thanks to your involvement they now see a community of people that care. Although it may not always seem like a tangible change is happening, believe me that it is there. Their tears when they cry from enduring horrific things are validated. The way that pimps treat their victims is labeled abuse instead of some glamorized job. All of this is simply a result of awareness.
"To have an incredible team supporting me as I designed a collection for the first time was one of the greatest blessings since I left my trafficker. Fashion design became my voice."
Your support has meaning because every piece you purchase from Elegantees is sewn by a young woman who needs you to believe in them the way that Elegantees believed in me. Your posts have meaning because there may be that one kid like me who sees your post about human trafficking. As a result, they don’t continue that online chat with an adult because they understand what to look for. Your photo has meaning because young girls need to learn what beauty is and eliminate this societal belief that femininity is immodest. If I had seen even one of your posts now, I probably wouldn’t have fallen victim to my trafficker. If you can prevent one person from being trafficked you have succeeded.
To the men in this movement, I want to thank you from the deepest part of my heart. The role of men in this movement is crucial to protecting potential victims by providing a healthy role model. We need you to show that men should not be criminalized as a whole. I believe in you.
I was blessed to have a loving God fight for me when I could not fight for myself. We have to be victim’s voices until they can fight for themselves. Regardless of your faith, doing the right thing can create significant change if we work together and be the voice that our world needs.
An Overcomer Who Believes In You
About the Author
Anna Ptak is currently an international public speaker as well as an Overcomer and policy consultant in the movement to end Human Trafficking. In her spare time, Anna loves spending time with her husband, and their adorable puppy, Liam Alexander.