"It was like I was waking up to a new life"
The internet has made it easier than ever for kids to be bought and sold online. Our grant partner, Thorn, is on a mission to build technology to defend children from sexual abuse. Their tool, Spotlight, helped law enforcement identify a young girl trafficked in San Diego. Investigators working on the case made the 6 hour trip to connect with her in person and ensure she made it home to Arizona. Here is a text she sent to the investigators:
“I was terrified when I escaped, and terrified as I waited to board the plane that was taking me home. I told myself that once we took off this would all be over…I realized that I was still terrified, still living in fear. Fear of never being/feeling safe ever again, fear of them hurting my family, fear of them finding me, fear of what they would do to me when they did.
Once we were in the air, and for the first time in a long time I took a deep breath of relief. I was safe and I was going home. When the plane got to Arizona and I stepped off…I vowed to myself that I would never let someone hurt me like that again. Yesterday was very hard for me and after you guys left it got even harder. I felt all the guilt, the shame, and basically about 1 million other emotions crashing into me at once. It took me hours to fall asleep last night. I went to bed and woke up this morning - it was like I was waking up to a new life. I’m actually crying right now just typing this.
Now I completely understand why you guys come all the way out to do it in person. Because truly I don’t think there’s any other way to do it, as I’m sure you know! I don’t know if you guys have, like, a manager or supervisor, but if you could tell them for me that you guys were the most amazing to me, just who you are as a person naturally, the energy you gave off, the way you treated me and my family, the way you talk to me you gave me so much yesterday you have no idea. I woke up and I almost didn’t recognize myself for a second, I was kind of confused...I can never thank you enough for what you did for me and what you do for all the other women and girls that this happens to.
I’m sorry this is so long I just want you to know that you’re both my hero and an angel. I didn’t think it would ever be possible to get my life back, but in a matter of two hours you gave it to me! There’s really no word I can use to describe the way I feel but I guess thank you will just have to do!”