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A Voice for the Voiceless


I grew up in Central Florida with two older brothers and parents who abused drugs and alcohol.


I share my story to raise awareness of what's happening not only around the world, but right here in America.  It’s my desire to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.  I have become the person I needed when I was younger.  I have become a voice for the voiceless.


Sharing my story has helped others come forward and share that they were also a victim, but have never been able to tell anyone.  Trainings I have led have helped other people recognize trafficking, which led to victims being rescued.......

During childhood I experienced neglect and various types of abuse. At a young age I became a victim of human trafficking, sold by my mother to support her drug addiction.  When I was thirteen years old I was placed into foster care. I  watched both of my parents try to commit suicide by cutting their wrists. 


In foster care I began what ultimately became a 10 year old addiction of cutting myself along with other forms of self-harm.  I was moved from group home to group home because it was decided that I was “emotionally disturbed” and they didn’t deal with kids who cut.  Eventually I was sent to a residential treatment center for kids in foster care.  At the treatment center I experienced the same abuse that was happening prior to entering foster care.


My oldest brother got custody of me when I was almost 15 years old and it was then that I met my high school guidance counselor, who helped rescue me from a life of destruction.  After everything I endured, I managed to become the very first person in my family to graduate high school and go on to college. 


At 22 years old I recognized my need for a Savior and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.  My desire became to help people who struggled with self-harm and raise awareness of the reality of the seriousness of it.  I began to publically share about my self-harm addiction, but I had still never told anyone about the other abuse I had experienced.  I was too ashamed to tell people what I had been through.  I later learned that I was afraid they were going to see me the way I saw myself.


After experiencing a traumatic event in March of 2013 I began therapy and started working through that trauma, as well as the trauma I experienced in childhood.  In 2014 I attended a human trafficking awareness event with friends, and it was then that I realized that what my mother did to me was human trafficking.  I felt like I would never be able to share my story, but I wanted to help raise awareness of human trafficking.  A few months after I learned that I was a victim of human trafficking, I began to slowly share my story, which has led to me becoming a nationally recognized speaker on familial trafficking. 

In 2018 after testifying numerous times during the Florida Legislative Session to try to get a bill on human trafficking passed, the bill ultimately failed.  I worked with Senator Lauren Book throughout the year to create a new human trafficking bill for the 2019 Legislative Session.  I testified numerous times during the the 2019 Florida Legislative Session and the bill that requires the staff of public lodging establishments to be trained on human trafficking passed and was signed into Law.  The bill that was passed also created a Direct Support Organization to assist the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking.  In July 2019, Florida Attorney General, Ashley Moody, appointed me to serve on the Board of Directors for the new DSO, Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking.

I attended a seminar for law enforcement and prosecutors regarding the investigation of human trafficking cases when I heard Savannah speak. She captured the attention of the room immediately with an openness and honesty about some of the ugliest forms of human behavior imaginable. Seasoned officers sat riveted as she spoke her truth, realizing that there was never an end to their learning process. She let us know that we had more to learn, and she told us how to gain that knowledge. It was an invaluable lesson from someone who's lived through hell and survived to talk about it. 

Karen Martinez

District Attorney, San Bernardino County, CA

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