Tag: Sexual Assault

Former sex slave recalls nightmare she lived

[Editors note: this article contains adult material and is a true story.]

Never in her wildest dreams would she have thought it would happen to her. Once a sex slave, Sally Richardson now uses her trauma to help others.

Human trafficking is believed to be the third largest criminal activity in the world. In January 2013, Richardson’s worst nightmare would come true.

Human trafficking is when a person is forced to engage in sex acts through force, fraud or coercion.

Some think that something like that couldn’t happen to someone they know. It happens all over the world, as women and children are forced into sex acts for money or for work.

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Sally Richardson, a survivor of human trafficking, is travelling around the United States to help other survivors and victims. Photos courtesy of Sally Richardson

Richardson’s nightmare began shortly after she met her husband, who turned out to be her trafficker. They met online and began dating. She began working for her trafficker at his regular job with no pay, and then shortly after, he started to traffic her for sex.

I ended up marrying my trafficker for a brief period, and he exploited and trafficked me between January 2013 – August 2014,” said Richardson. “I also suffered severe domestic abuse.”

e93a04_0226bd3cfac5489b8874ca62bed51ede~mv2.pngRichardson was awakened by her then husband one night and told to get up and cover up her ugliness. He then drove her to a hotel, told her a room number, slammed the car door and drove off.

“It was that moment when the car door slammed that my boyfriend became my trafficker,” said Richardson.

Anytime she would beg not to go, the more violent her trafficker would become, and the worse the abuse would get.

Richardson’s trafficker would take photos of her for the ads that he would use to “sell” her. There are guys in towns that will take pictures of girls in hotel beds to be sold, according to Richardson.

Richardson’s trafficker took her to meet guys all over the Midwest and South Dakota. Richardson said she would take pictures of billboards and signs, waiting for the right time to call for help.

Anytime she would show signs of wanting to leave or tried to leave, her trafficker would threaten to harm himself. This is how they manipulate their victims into not leaving, or seeking help, according to Richardson.

“I remember one night having to perform CPR for 47 minutes until the rescue team arrived at the “hell house” that I lived at for two years,” said Richardson.

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At the time of the abuse, her two daughters were living with them, including one who was pregnant at the time.  Richardson would spend time wondering if her and her daughters were going to live or survive. Her trafficker tried to make them get rid of the baby that her daughter was pregnant with, but they never did.

“Nothing mattered to my trafficker,” recalls Richardson. “I was nothing but a source of income for him to display at his day job. Then at night I would become his slave.”

It took Richardson seven months of going through a hellish divorce before she would be somewhat free from her trafficker. Even though she was divorced from him, it still didn’t mean that she would not suffer from PTSD, anxiety, or OCD. At times, it can be very hard for her to leave the comfort of her home.

“I never know what might trigger a PTSD episode, and knowing that I can’t control when or where it strikes,” said Richardson.

She spends most of her time with her therapist and trying to help others who have been or are going through what she has been through. It is a self-healing process to help others.

18527765_1199506826844272_5638228082999227299_n“It hasn’t been easy, this journey of mine,” said Richardson. “I often weep. I weep because I know what it is to truly lose everything that each and every one takes for granted on a daily basis. I weep for the loss of all my freedoms. I weep because of the long, lonely road I have traveled. I weep because I was lucky enough to escape from my trafficker, but there are still so many who are still trapped and suffering their silent HELL called Human Trafficking and Domestic Abuse. Mostly, I weep because I know what a treacherous journey I still have ahead of me.”

On October 3, 2016, Richardson’s attorney argued on her behalf in front of the Supreme Court in South Dakota.

With Richardson’s testimony, South Dakota passed laws in order to help end human trafficking in the state.

HB1118 eliminates the need to prove the use of force, fraud, or coercion in the human trafficking of minors, passed both the South Dakota House and Senate with unanimous approval and signed into law by Governor Dennis Daugaard on March 10, 2017.

Also, SB102 requires “that the name and telephone number of an organization fighting to end sex trafficking be given, in writing, to any woman seeking an abortion.” It passed both the South Dakota House and Senate with just one nay vote. It was signed into law by Governor Daugaard on March 10, 2017.

After she helped the two bills to be passed into law, Richardson knew she didn’t want to stop there. She needed to help as many survivors as she could. Richardson and Lynn DiSanto, a psychologist and friend, then created https://www.fightingagainsttrafficking.org.

“I know I have a long journey ahead of me and a constant battle ahead of me,” said Richardson. “But I will help as many people along the way as I can till I have to pass the torch.”

For more information, you can visit https://www.fightingagainsttrafficking.org

Former student recalls sexual assault experience

by SHELBY MORGAN//Staff Writer

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[Be advised: The names and places in this story have been changed or generalized in order to protect the identity of the sexual assault survivor. In order to protect anonymity, the survivor’s name has been changed.]

College is supposed to be one of the best times in the lives of students. But for one former South Plains College student, the experience was tainted by unwanted sexual advances.

Abbey Rogers, not her real name, was the victim of sexual assault during her sophomore year of college, following a night out with friends.

“I had gone out with some friends, and we met up with some guys who were buying us drinks,” she recalls. “We were all having a good time, but then I blacked out. It’s like everything that happened after midnight was erased from my memory”

Incidences such as the one Rogers experienced, where the victim is intoxicated, are extremely common. Sexual assault campaigns across the country have adopted the phrase, “Just because she didn’t say no doesn’t mean she’s saying yes,” in hopes of educating and bringing awareness to the stigma that drunk girls are fair game.

“I woke up in a strange bed with a guy who I barely knew and instantly had a moment of regret and started to blame myself,” Rogers says.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, (NSVRC), most victims of physically forced or incapacitated sexual assault were assaulted by someone they knew (79 percent and 88 percent, respectively).

“I didn’t report it because I didn’t want to be shamed for being drunk,” says Rogers, “or for someone to tell me that I was asking for it that night. I was having a good time with my friends and had too much to drink, and someone took advantage of that.”

The NSVRC reports that less than 5 percent of completed or attempted rapes against college women are reported to law enforcement. However, in two-thirds of the incidents, the victim did tell another person, usually a friend, not family or campus officials.

“I wish guys and girls knew that just because you’re too drunk to say no, doesn’t mean that it’s OK,” Rogers says. “Don’t see the drunk girl at the bar as an opportunity.”

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month is recognized during April. It is an annual campaign to bring awareness to sexual assault. According to RAINN.org, the rate of sexual assault and rape has fallen by 63 percent since 1993.

Every two minutes, someone in America is raped. One in six American women are victims of sexual assault. That means that someone you know has been or could be the victim of sexual assault. It could be your mother, aunt, sister, daughter, friend, or the girl next to you in class. Sexual violence has become an epidemic and affects the families of victims, friends, co-workers, and communities.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is an annual march for the non-profit agency Voice of Hope: Rape Crisis Center. The walk is held in order to raise funds and awareness about the issues of sexual assault and sex trafficking. The march is a one mile walk, and participants can, if they choose, don 4-inch-high stilettos to speak out against sexual violence. The event will be held on April 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at South Plains Mall in Lubbock.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, help can be found at Voice of Hope of Lubbock, The Health and Wellness Center at South Plains College, the County Health Department, or by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

[Photo illustration by JORDAN PATTERSON/PLAINSMAN PRESS]

Denim Day serves to educate students on sexual assault, victim blaming

by RILEY GOLDEN//Entertainment Editor

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Students, faculty, and staff at South Plains College are encouraged to wear denim on April 26.

They will be joining more than 155,000 people across the United States who have pledged to wear denim to bring awareness to sexual assault.

In Italy in 1992, an 18-year-old girl was picked up by her 45-year-old driving instructor, taken to an isolated road, where he pulled her out of the car, wrestled one leg out of her jeans, and raped her.

Later that night, she told her parents about the incident, and they helped her press charges. The man was convicted and sentenced to jail. He appealed his sentence and it made it all the way to the country’s Supreme Court. The verdict was overturned “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans, it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”

Enraged by the ruling, women in Italian Parliament began protesting the verdict by wearing jeans to work. This call to action spurred the California Senate and Assembly to do the same.

The movement made its way to Patricia Giggans, executive director of Peace Over Violence, and the first Denim Day in Los Angeles was in April 1999. It has continued to spread across the nation every year since then.

“This is the first [Denim Day] we’ve done,” said Chris Straface, counselor at South Plains College. “But Denim Day has been around for 18 years. The whole purpose of Denim Day is to bring some focus to victim blaming, because that’s something that is a big problem in our society.”

The Health and Wellness Center is selling buttons for $1 as well.

“If we did Denim Day traditionally, it would be a fundraising event for Peace Over Violence,” Straface explained. “But, to my knowledge, they don’t have an organization that impacts this area, and we didn’t want to raise funds that would leave the area. So it’s a way for us to raise money for Voice of Hope in Lubbock.”

For more information, go to denimdayinfo.org to register as a supporter of the cause. So, on April 26, wear jeans with a purpose and make those around you aware of sexual assault and victim blaming.