*Trigger Warning: The following is a true story of a survivor of human trafficking. This story includes sensitive language surrounding sexual assault. Please consider this before reading further.
Ella* is an American girl who had been in the foster care system for years. It was family after family. Home after home. Her life was always changing. When she turned 18, she was too old to stay in the system. She felt hurt and alone with nowhere to go and no one to turn to. One day, a woman approached her asking if she needed any food or help. Ella thought this woman really cared about her. The woman said her boyfriend was a good guy and could take care of her, and Ella chose to trust her.
While everything seemed okay at first, the boyfriend suddenly told Ella that she owed him money for everything he had provided for her. He began trafficking her, forcing her to go from city to city, selling herself for sex. He told her she was worthless and that nobody cared about her.
But one day, Ella met with a man who she thought was paying for a service. He turned out to be a law enforcement officer who offered to help. Despite the risk, she trusted him and told him her story. The officer assisted her to safety, her trafficker was arrested, and she was connected with A21. The team at A21 was able to find her safe housing and provide the services she needed to start building the life she envisioned for herself.
*Ella’s name has been changed.
We partner with A21 year after year to provide the funds to continue helping women like Ella, in America and at their offices around the world. Find out more at a21.org, and join us this Dressember as we create more opportunities for girls like Ella.