Vanity Fair Confidential episode 9 locked up next door aired March 20th on the Investigation Discovery Channel, the episode featured my experiences as a trafficked child, advocate, and discussion about domestic minor sex trafficking and will continue to air and is available on the ID channel.
I was honored to speak and participate in a panel recently at the Washington D.C. Busboys and Poets regarding the multiple missing children in the D.C. area.
All My Website Facebook Likes Are Gone
I opened my website page to edit a few things recently and to my horror I found that all but 9 of my 8987 Facebook ''likes" had somehow disappeared .
Why? Did they just magically evaporate? Do I have an enemy who hacked my website and erased them? Where did they all go?
I worked hard for all those "likes", each and every one of them...to open my site and not see them was just awful.
So I did what I always do, I researched why this would have happened, and this is what I found out.
Facebook is deleting legitimate likes from websites, they believe they are 'fake' likes! All of mine were true blue 'likes'.
I am sure this is nothing new to many people, but it is super frustrating to me. Even more daunting is the fact that I know without a doubt that contacting the mighty Facebook will be to no avail. If you are reading this and sincerely like my site, please add your like! Thanks!
Below I have copied a remark I found online while researching the problem that sums up how I feel about this, apparently I am not alone:
I would love for Facebook to explain why I have lost a MASS of likes including and not limited to active FRIENDS and FAMILY. I have just had to re-request that about 40 friend re-like my page... they were ACTIVE friends too!
The message behind the documentary, "What Happened to the Girl Next Door?," produced and narrated by former Eyewitness News I-Team reporter Laurie Monteforte of Pocono Summit, who covered Monroe County for more than 10 years. The film was shown for the first time Tuesday evening at Pocono Cinema & Cultural Center in East Stroudsburg, where Monteforte and a panel of local law enforcement officials, human trafficking survivors and representatives of organizations helping survivors led a community discussion on how to address this problem.
"I once believed something like human trafficking existed only in Third World countries or major cities, but never in places like Monroe County or the Lehigh Valley area," Monteforte, who began work on the project after a series of local prostitution-related arrests, told residents gathered to view the film and take part in the discussion afterward. "I've now learned how close this hits to home for all of us and how it might be our very own neighbors trapped in this very real nightmare."
Involving months of research and interviews Monteforte and her investigative team conducted with multiple sources, the documentary film follows the stories of three survivors, all owhom were sexually abused as children and one of whom ran away from home, and how they finally managed to escape horrific lives.
"Prostitution is not a 'victimless crime,' which most people view it as," said survivor/advocate/author Barbara Amaya, who detailed her own personal experiences in the award-winning "Nobody's Girl."
"Many prostitutes do what they do not because they want to or enjoy it, but because they'll be tortured or even killed if they don't," said Amaya. "What makes it worse is that the prostitutes, when arrested, are treated as worse criminals than the johns or the pimps are. The prostitutes are the victims, not the criminals. The laws need to change to treat them as such and go after the real criminals."
The film features interviews with local law enforcement officials.
From the ages oif 12 to 21/22 I was trafficked on the streets of Washington D.C., and New York City.
As I was being exploited, beaten and traumatized I was also being arrested on a regular basis by law enforcement.
Why? Why was I the victim being arrested much much more than the exploiters? I believe this was because many see the men who sought to buy my body as "just men" and what they were doing as a "victimless crime".
Of course this is wrong. Although I like the other victims of D.M.S.T. in the United States, did not self identify as a victim, I was a victim for sure.
Many seemed to feel that I was an incorrigible and uncontrollable child. And that could not have been further from the truth. Actually I was the complete opposite of that, I was a super pliable and very controllable child. The earlier sexual abuse I'd suffered had set me up to become a perfect walking target for predators.. The trafficker knew that, that is why he was able to program my young mind. Traffickers have long known where to look for marginalized and vulnerable children. Poverty, previous abuse, drug dependency and lack of education these are all factors that can lead to vulnerability.
And that is what is preyed upon-vulnerabilities.
We must move beyond the indifference, ignorance and disbelief that surrounds sex trafficking of children in our country and lift ourselves up to understanding.
By bringing first awareness, then education and training to our communities we will begin to eradicate the horrific crime that is Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking.
Learning internet acronyms and the words that teens, younger populations and others use online can help parents, teachers, counselors and everyone who wants to help children and young populations avoid becoming victims of crime including human trafficking, rape, kidnapping and even death.
No list is all inclusive, I hope this one includes a large number of the acronyms used today. If you know of any that I have missed please contact me so I can add them to this list.
Together we can make a difference.
Here is a list of some of the more basic Internet 101 phrases:
1. BRB- Be Right Back
2. GR8- Great
3. ILY- I Love You
4. JK- Just Kidding
5. POV- Point of View
6. IDK- I Don’t Know
7. TMI- Too Much Information
8. TTYL- Talk To You Later
9. G2G/GTG- Got To Go
10. THX/TY- Thanks/Thank You
11. NP- No Problem
12. BFF- Best Friends Forever
13. IDC- I Don’t Care
14. LYLAS- Love You Like A Sister
15. NVM- Never mind
16. MYT- Meet You There
17. NBD- No Big Deal
18. BAE- Babe/Before Anyone Else
19. HMU- Hit Me Up
20. ATM- At The Moment
My hope is, after reading these lists, you will be more curious and cautious about what your child, student, client and teen are talking about online and on their cell phones and to whom they are talking.
Some acronyms deal with risky decisions:
1. 420- Marijuana
2. DOC- Drug Of Choice
3. CICYHW- Can I Copy Your Homework?
4. TWD- Texting While Driving
5. WTPA- Where’s The Party At?
And others have sexual connotations:
1. IWSN- I Want Sex Now
2. 53X- Sex
3. MIRL- Meet In Real Life
4. TDTM- Talk Dirty To Me
5. 8- Oral Sex
6. IPN- I’m posting naked
7. GYPO- Get Your Pants Off
8. CU46- See You For Sex
9. GNOC- Get Naked On Camera
10. NSFW- Not Safe For Work
11. ASL- (What is your) Age, Sex, Location?
12. FWB- Friends With Benefits
There are even a number of acronyms regarding parents:
1. PIR- Parent In Room
2. 9- Parent Watching
3. 99- Parenting Gone
4. POS- Parent Over Shoulder
5. 303- Mom
These are just a few acronyms of many. These acronyms have the possibility to lead to sexting, risky sexual behaviors, stalking, rape and falling into the hands of human traffickers.
If you notice your children, their friends, your students or clients using any unusual language, including examples from above, be aware and talk to them about it.
Although these conversations may be hard and awkward, they are necessary and they do help to protect and inform children.
Silence is never an option if you want to make a difference.
I am excited to share that I will be speaking at the upcoming TEDx Mid Atlantic event in Washington D.C. on September 25th. I am honored to be among such great people and hope that my talk resonates with those who attend. The theme for this event is intersections and to me that means choices...choices in my own life and the choices or lack of choices in the lives of victims of human trafficking.
After speaking at Willow Creek Church in the Chicago area recently I was moved to tears after reading a letter I received in response to my presentation, I have copied the letter below:
Dear Precious One,
Last night brought the privilege of hearing first hand your amazing story of not just survival, but redemption. Privilege, because you have chosen to share your heart, your journey, your traumas – intimate details with strangers, and trusting that it will be received with grace and love and mercy. Trusting that it will move those in the crowd listening to “be the change” as you so aptly wrote inside the cover of your book.
What a privilege indeed, when you have all the reason in the world to never trust again. After all, where were we when you were being abused as a young child? Where were we when you fled your home at age 12, hoping to escape the abuse? Where were we when the trafficker scooped you off the street, taking advantage of your naiveté and vulnerability? Where were we when he conditioned you into believing you were nothing but a commodity to be bought, sold and traded? Where were we when you were arrested – a child treated as a criminal instead of the victim you were – and shamed for “what you had done”. Where were we when you finally found your way out, but still didn’t know you were the victim? Where were we when your police record continued to haunt you as you rebuilt a new life? Where were we?
For all of the times we were not there for you – we are sorry, so very sorry. Please accept our humble apologies; please forgive us. We didn’t know then. But we know now, oh, we know now.
We know now that human trafficking exists, not just “over there”, but right HERE, right in our very backyards. We know now that traffickers prey on the young, the weak, and the vulnerable – that the average age of victims is between 11-14 years old. We know now that traffickers are master manipulators and controllers. We know now that in your vulnerability, you could not see past the lies they fed you – that you were nothing, that no one cared about you, that this was all you would ever be. We know now that you were trapped in a dark, evil world and it wasn’t your fault.
We know too, that you are beautiful and brave, with strength beyond measure. We know that God will bring life from the ashes - that He will redeem all of the pain, not one tear will be wasted. We know that God has a plan and a purpose for you. We know that we are called to never let you be forgotten ever again. We know we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus in finding you, serving you, loving you, standing alongside you, cheering you on.
And so, we promise you – an unwavering promise made with unwavering faith – that we are here now. We will learn to recognize the signs of the vulnerable as well as the signs of trafficking. We will read books and blogs and websites that can teach us what to look for and what to do. We will pray and knit and bake and sew for outreach to the vulnerable and exploited. We will renovate homes to create safe houses. We will shop with purpose to support survivors who are rebuilding their lives. We will be your voice in social and legislative circles. We promise we will be the change.
Grace and peace,
Your Willow Family
I was honored to be asked to come and share my story of overcoming adversity and transformation by the Crime Victim's Center of Fayette County at the Eberly campus of Penn State.
The questions from the audience were insightful and I felt that the people that attended were interested in making a difference and honestly wanted to know what they can do now to bring about change.
Pat Mowen of the Crime Victims Center had this to say about my presentation:
"Barbara's journey of transformation from victim to survivor inspired everyone to become more informed and aware of sex trafficking. Having worked in victims' services for 15 years, I admire her ability, courage and determination to share her horrific experiences with audiences everywhere."
Crime Victims' Center of Fayette County
I was so very honored to be the recipient of the James B. Hunter Human Rights Advocacy Award in December. Looking at the past honorees I was in awe and very much aware of what a real blessing it was to receive this sought after award. The inscription on the crystal award reads: Barbara Amaya for exemplary commitment to promoting human rights and diversity in Arlington Virginia.
As the human rights commissioner read the introduction and my bio along with some of my accomplishments and what the nominating person, Noelle Connor had written, I was astounded. I had forgotten some of the things I had done during the past two years! And hearing them read out loud like that was so strangely humbling, and it was actually kind of embarrassing to hear him go on and on. All I could say when he finished and handed me my award was that I was so grateful as I looked around the room at my colleagues and fellow advocates, grateful to be there receiving an award for helping others. Being handed this award made me feel that the work I do is appreciated and that means so much.
writing and everything relating to human trafficking blog
All the rules, advice, contests, and information on the web about writing can get confusing, I will sometimes write about writing but mostly... I am a survivor who overcame adversity and abuse and I am writing memoirs and essays, and advocating for anti human trafficking, survivors and victims of trafficking. The fact that I am alive today to write about my experiences is a miracle.
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