A Child Sex Trafficking Survivor Her Words of Hope on the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

A letter from Tiffany Simpson, a sex trafficking survivor imprisoned in Georgia and advocacy lab associate at Karana Rising

Help Free Tiffany Simpson by signing and sharing this petition: https://www.change.org/freetiffanysimpson

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Tiffany Simpson, Age 17

Hi Everyone:

Do you know what it’s like to have your freedom taken from you? I do. It’s happened to me twice. I should be free but instead I sit behind these walls. The World Day Against Human Trafficking is personal for me. It should be personal for you, too. Here is why.

I have a 9 year old boy who I want to grow up to be free to be the kind of man he wants to be. All children deserve this but around the world, millions of children are enslaved either working in fields in Uzbekistan or being sold for sex in hotels all around America. We call it human trafficking, but it’s modern day slavery.

When it all began, it looked like love.

I was 16 when my trafficker lured me into his hell. He used my hurt to his profit. Like a lot of girls, I was just wanting love. My mom, who I love, was struggling with alcoholism and really was in a dark place. My dad was arrested when I was 6. I actually saw it on the news. He’s in prison now for life. That really hurts me.

Human trafficking is kind of like the coronavirus to me. If you don’t try to find out where it is happening, it just spreads. For most girls like me, the infection starts with not feeling loved or safe at home. Yes, it can happen to anyone, but girls out there on their own are especially vulnerable.

I felt like I could manage it even though this man who was twice my age quickly turned cruel. He started to say if I didn’t have sex for money, he would hurt me. He made good on his promise. Stabbings, dragging me by my hair. He really convinced me that this was all my choice. He convinced me that if I loved him, I’d do what he wanted. Oh, I wanted this love. That was the real addiction, not the drugs he gave me to numb my pain and fear.

Sex trafficking targets girls all over the world from all over and most girls think it won’t happen to them. They don’t know that as a child, the law should protect you because children can’t consent to being involved in stuff like prostitution. You want to feel like you can take care of yourself because being a kid isn’t so easy if no one helps you or gives you the love you need to survive.

So, life didn’t really get better when I “escaped” my trafficker. That is because I was arrested for sex trafficking another teenage girl who my trafficker decided he wanted to exploit. That was 2012. I barely remember court. I was a teenage mom and filled with pain. The State of Georgia sentenced me to 20 years. That was about 8 years ago. In those years, I’ve met other women like me. Women who thought we were voiceless.

We are not voiceless! We also need your help so our message will reach other girls who are on the verge of falling into trafficking.

In the last years, a lot of people have made assumptions about me. They say I’m a bad person, a street walker or prostitute. They don’t realize most women they say are street walkers are actually walking in world of hurt and loss.

What I have grown to know is I’m not all that stuff. I’m a mother, daughter, friend, advocate, and a survivor. I’ve survived slavery. Now, I’m sitting in this jail surviving living in this box.

This is where you come in.

The only way I can use my voice right now is through my Karana Rising team publishing my posts from inside jail. You can do a lot more. So, here are three ideas:

  1. Don’t make assumptions; ask questions

Are you a police officer?. Are you a teacher or social worker? If you see a kid whose caught up like me in commercial sex, don’t judge us. We need your grace and help. Often times, people don’t wonder what caused a child to fall into sex trafficking. They label us. Stop with the labels and start with the grace, please

2. Support groups like Karana Rising

I wish I’d met my Karana Rising team before I was trafficked. I wish all kids the help the need to stay safe. Find your local anti trafficking group and support them any way you can. Don’t know who they are? Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at. 1–888–3737–888 to ask.

3.Stop arresting runway kids. Now.

Are you a lawmaker or elected official? Are kids still being arrested for things like running away? That’s a gateway charge to sex trafficking. So, it’s not enough to not arrest kids for prostitution, which some places do, but you have to stop arresting kids who runway. They need your help. I really did. Maybe I would not be here today in jail if I’d been helped, not arrested.

I have this dream of starting an organization in Georgia to help girls like me overcome and reach their dreams, too.

Ending human trafficking is my dream. Even though I feel failed by the state of Georgia right now, I still love all the girls inside it. So, I am going to work really hard as an advocate. These walls and chains won’t stop me from helping other girls. I’m going to my past into the currency to help other girls behind me rise. We survivors are not defined by our past.

To all you survivors who don’t realize your power and beauty yet…

To every girl out there who has suffered like me, just know you can reach out. I’m here. You are not alone. You really are worthy of love. There is a life that is going to be so beautiful and each day is a chance to explore it. Feel that love inside. Love attracts love. I’m living proof.

We All Are Survivors…

Please everyone let this be the day each and every one of us go out and fight to help stop these girls from being exploited. I am. Join me.

I’m dreaming of the day I can meet you. I hope you all have a beautiful day this World Day to Against Trafficking in Persons. I really appreciate you all. These walls can’t separate us in our work.

Your,

Tiffany

Written by

Karana Rising is by survivors, for survivors. Our team leads innovative labs in wellness, design, advocacy & education to support survivors of human trafficking

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