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It has taken me over 40 years to break my silence; I finally feel strong enough to be able to share my story, to reach out to others and hopefully help them in some way by sharing my experiences. I believe that only through awareness and education can policy or legislation begin to change.
I was abused and afterwards there was no help, I felt like nothing I did mattered, I didn’t want to go to school or talk to my friends, I felt like I was never good enough or pretty or as smart as the other girls my age. Because I received no validation or therapy for the abuse I suffered, my self-esteem plummeted into nothingness and I became a walking target for traffickers and predators. I believe it is so important to first listen and validate what a child is saying, and second get them the therapy and help they may need.
The summer I turned twelve years old I ran away from my suburban Virginia home. I ran away from home to escape the abuse, and I continued to run away from home dozens and dozens of times between the ages of twelve and thirteen. Sometimes the police would find me and bring me home, or they would take me to detention centers, reform schools and hospitals. I was treated as a juvenile delinquent, and a child who was uncontrollable, never as a young girl who needed assistance or help.
I was manipulated, coerced, abused and exploited by traffickers in Washington, D.C. and New York City for over ten horrific trauma filled years.
I grew up while being trafficked.
Today I advocate for the rights of human trafficking victims and all victims of abuse and exploitation everywhere. Through my own adversity I've found strength and my own purpose, I've taken my life back.
If you or someone you know is being trafficked and need help please contact National Hotline 888-373-7888
The Destiny of Zoe Carpenter-full length color graphic novel click BUY NOW for hard copy book portion of sales assist victims of human trafficking today
2004 I never thought my daughter would do this. The irony of the situation was not lost on me. I ran away from home dozens of times when I was even younger than her, and I never gave my mother’s feelings any thought at all. I never had the feeling she gave mine much thought either. Bianca had been asking me questions about my past. Questions I refused to answer.
On the way home I started to cry silently. I cried because I was scared of what happened and afraid of what I had to do now. I had to make my daughter understand. I had to tell her everything about my past.
1972 The gray metal coat hanger hissed through the air and struck my back. Where it hit, the pain was so intense it radiated through my entire body. The thin t-shirt I had on was no defense, and neither were my hands and arms. I tried to shield my face from his blows. He raised his arm, aimed the wire coat hanger and hit me over and over and over. I started to shake uncontrollably. My shirt turned red with my blood and I prayed but no one came to help me, I was all alone and I wanted to die. I huddled in a ball on the floor and tried to go away in my mind. I was 16 years old.