Survivors are the real experts on human trafficking. The most powerful truths about the issue come from their personal experiences. Each person is different, and each story is important. Those of us who have no firsthand knowledge of trafficking often have the same questions for survivors:
How did it happen? How did you escape? Could you run away? How can I help?
Shamere McKenzie’s story sheds unique light on these questions. In 2005, Shamere was struggling to pay the remaining $3,000 of her college tuition bill when she met her trafficker. They began a romantic relationship, and he promised opportunities to earn the money she needed by dancing for clients. Instead, she was forced to prostitute herself.
Shamere attempted to run away several times. She did not trust the police; “…they had arrested her multiple times, some officers were her buyers, and others taunted her, calling her names, as she walked the street.”1 As a means of escape, Shamere decided to make less money for her pimp, hoping he would decide she was no longer useful. Instead, it angered him; he walked into another room and she heard the click of a gun.
“Something inside me that day did not want to die,” Shamere says. 2 She decided to make a run for it. Their home was in a gated community in Florida, and a neighbor saw her running. That neighbor was her “guardian angel,” as she calls him. 3 He provided her meals, put her up in a hotel, and gave her a phone to call home. 4
Shamere’s story doesn’t end there. In this video
, she further describes being lured into sex trafficking, stemming from a situation familiar to so many here in the college town of Fort Collins. After recounting her escape, Shamere shares about the victory she now experiences. Shamere is no longer enslaved; today, she stands as a survivor and liberator.
This Saturday night in Fort Collins, you have the opportunity to hear from another survivor of domestic sex trafficking, Ms. Jen Spry. Trafficked from ages 8-10, she says,“…a man moved in only 4 doors away from our home and that is when my life changed forever…no one ever came looking for me, because I never went missing.”
Despite the pain of her past, Jen’s story, like Shamere’s, will engage and inspire you, offering hope gained from firsthand experience. Afterward, put your passion into action by participating in a live auction of generously donated items to raise the funds needed to rescue, restore and renew 15 children affected by human trafficking. Drinks and dessert from local vendors will be available by purchase. Buy your $10 ticket in advance here
to receive 10 tickets for additional door prize drawings.
To read another story of hope, check out Part One of this series.
Dare to know. Dare to hope. YOU can make a difference!
1: Hannah Terry, “Our CEO Shamere McKenzie and her story,” Sun Gate Foundation. http://www.sun-gate.org/shameres-story/
2:“Global Perspectives – Shamere McKenzie,” Global Perspectives. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sENfDgVJYjw
3: “Survivors of Slavery,” CSU Chico. https://rce.csuchico.edu/sites/default/files/online/survivor_of_slavery.pdf
4: “Shamere McKenzie”, End Slavery Now. January 3, 2015. http://www.endslaverynow.org/blog/articles/shamere-mckenzie