Human Sex Trafficking Survivor Speaks Out
By Andi Buerger with Eden Gordon
Freedom from violation for me meant more than a movement. Hypocrisy is what causes the hurt and victimization of human rights - not a wall.
The issue of human trafficking has finally come of age in this country thanks to President Donald Trump’s assertive legislation and his daughter, Ivanka’s, team within the current Administration. But the MeToo movement, which may have begun from genuine inspiration, seems to be missing solutions for non-celebrity victims and hope-filled healing sources to help survivors.
Freedom from violation for me meant more than a movement. As a human trafficking survivor, I wholeheartedly embrace strategic measures which curtail the free-for-all criminal predators who exploit and profit from illicit and depraved acts against humanity have had in this nation. It has been my mission through the founding of Beulah’s Place to rescue victims of human trafficking as well as those who have been abandoned and abused in other perverse ways.
Before there was a word for “trafficking,” I was sexually preyed upon by all immediate family members, male and female, from six months to 17 years old. In addition to the severe physical, emotional and mental abuse, my birth mother allowed other extended family members to have access to me and do the same things. I was told at age 5 that my days were numbered so I made it a point to end my life by running in front of an oncoming car. That car never came, but God did.
I was unable to run for protection or freedom, as there was no “place” to go to or hotline numbers to call back then. Media barely acknowledged child abuse, let alone something more sinister and depraved. Child trafficking exists for greed or perversion. We mostly hear about the greed. Eventually, education and music became my second “salvation” of sorts. I excelled in school, completed college in three years and went on to law school, hoping to find justice for the things that had happened to me.
I quickly found out that justice is subjective and, having seen child victims regularly returned to their predator parents, I took that law degree back to corporate America. Eventually, I met my husband in Oregon and we started Beulah’s Place, a place where the most violated, forgotten and desperate young people could find help, healing and hope.
Today, almost anybody can announce that they’ve been victimized in some way and end up on the cover of PEOPLE Magazine or in some other compensatory public venue. Why now? Where have all the recently celebrated survivors been? How come there were no other caravans to the U.S. until the presidential occupancy changed parties?
While many cry out that bricks and mortar are an immoral tool, I have to wonder how many of those same voices have a fence or barrier around their home, their property, their local school or church? Some of the loudest voices of protest come from those who personally supported construction of 700 miles of border fencing via legislation, such as The Gang of Eight bill in 2013.
Why is there an uproar to protect our national borders from unauthorized trespassers? Many elected officials who had voted to protect our country now wish to rally all American citizens against the same thing. Hypocrisy is what causes the hurt and victimization of human rights - not a wall. By blindsiding television viewers and talk show listeners with how much safeguarding basic human rights will cost, by creating unnecessary dissension and unfounded chaos through private funding for human “headline” campaigns globally, the only result is increased numbers of victims.
As a human trafficking survivor, I wanted the opportunity to heal, to succeed on my own terms and to prosecute fully, if possible, my predators, and to not be classified as needing special rights and funding. Like every other U.S. citizen, I was born with certain unalienable rights. At least I thought so. I have never looked for any person or organization to give me something I didn’t earn or work for, to include me in any political agenda, to hide lack of responsibility under the guise of “because you’re a victim you deserve everything handed to you,” and I chose to make my corner of the world - albeit small - a better community at large.
The level of current awareness is directly related to the commitment of Trump and his administration. Human trafficking is a human issue, not a party issue. Human trafficking destroys the future of any community, national or global. America needs to rally as one united nation regardless of political affiliation, because this country can never be great again without its most precious commodity: its people. When one citizen suffers, we all suffer - even if indirectly. We must put a stop to unnecessary suffering and show our allies what America stands for - from this side of the border. The U.S. has opened its doors to human trafficking predators over many presidential administrations. One of the many tools is nonpartisan wall involvement. We need nonpartisan action to see that all tools for safeguarding and protecting every citizen’s right are utilized.
Beulah’s Place (beulahsplace.org) works because it considers every victim worth saving, worth healing, worth promoting to the highest possible good. While funding can be difficult during government shutdowns, because of action - not rhetoric - funds have come in to provide temporary shelter for homeless at-risk teen boys and girls who have been severely abused, abandoned, trafficked, or criminally preyed upon. The results are the success of a program that works without fanfare or political agenda.