Victims may refer to their trafficker as “Daddy,” have an inconsistent story, lie about their age, not speak freely, not make eye contact, keep late or unusual hours, seem disoriented, have an older boyfriend, or have little or no luggage or money when traveling. They may suddenly possess expensive items, such as designer clothes, purses,… Read more »
What is your involvement in anti-trafficking efforts?
I served for two years as a community educator for a nonprofit organization that works to free youth from trafficking. In this role, I presented a monthly trafficking prevention program to girls in a juvenile detention center. Often victims would be in juvenile detention after having been trafficked, but no one knew that this had… Read more »
How can I help?
There are many nonprofit organizations that do wonderful work in our communities and around the world. Human trafficking is a global problem that affects millions of people. In addition to helping locate, rescue, and assist survivors as mentioned above, these groups help prevent trafficking by educating people, because informed communities—especially in the airline, hospital, and… Read more »
How can I stay safe from trafficking?
Be careful online. Keep settings private. Don’t ever post pictures that give away your exact location, and never accept friend requests from strangers. Even if someone is a friend of a friend, it doesn’t mean your friend actually knows the person. Traffickers often learn all about victims’ families, where they live, and whatever else they… Read more »
What resources are available to help people who have been trafficked?
Many anti-trafficking organizations work closely with law enforcement to aid in rescuing victims. A lot of these groups also help people after they are rescued. Trafficking survivors are reunited with their families whenever possible, and safe houses around the country provide counseling, education, and other support as needed.
Why did Tyler trick Julia and leave her with Alex? How could anyone do that?
Sometimes traffickers hire people and pay them to recruit unsuspecting victims. It is worth it to the traffickers because they know they can make a lot of money from whoever is brought in. Using recruiters also keeps the traffickers themselves out of the spotlight and gives them less chance of being caught. Sometimes traffickers force… Read more »
Your story is set in suburban Virginia. Doesn’t trafficking mostly happen in big cities and in other countries?
No. Trafficking happens all over the United States, in both rural and urban areas, as well as in other countries. There are documented cases of kids being trafficked in all fifty states.
Why did you choose to make Julia thirteen? Isn’t that pretty young for this to happen to someone?
Sadly, no. Traffickers look for vulnerable kids, and middle school is an incredibly difficult time in young people’s lives. Middle schoolers are dealing with so much happening in their bodies, increasing academic pressure, changes in friendships, possible interest in dating—there’s a lot going on. Sometimes it looks like the other kids have it all figured… Read more »
Did you base Julia on a real person?
No, Julia is not based on anyone in particular, but many traffickers and recruiters find their victims online. They look for kids with unmet needs or wishes and then convince those kids that they will provide exactly what is missing in their lives.
How did you first learn about trafficking?
Back when I was teaching elementary school, I used to flip through TV channels at night before going to sleep. One time, I landed on a movie that showed disheveled, miserable kids, who looked the same age as my students, being cursed at and loaded up into the back of a large van, like they… Read more »