Comments: 784 • Responses: 60  • Date: 

iamaredditer198 karma

What country are you from? Did the offenders move you from one country to another?

Vedavati513 karma

No. I was born in the United States. All of this happened within the United States.

The majority of sex trafficking victims in America are actually American citizens.

MarsReject153 karma

First off, I am glad you made it out. How did you escape, were you helped? What do you do for a living now?

Vedavati583 karma

I left with absolutely nothing except the clothes on my back. I started hitchhiking, and fortunately, the people who picked me up were very kindhearted, generous people. I crossed three state lines before finally settling down and trying to find legitimate work and figure out how to get back into school.

Since that time, I have obtained two university degrees and I work in a helping profession, in which I hope to help girls like myself.

FriendlyPontificator106 karma

Thank you for doing this AMAA. My question pertains to the movie Taken. Naturally, while I have no doubt that Liam Neeson did not save you in spectacular fashion, I was wondering if there was even a glimmer of truth in this film.

Vedavati208 karma

I'm sure that there are American girls who are kidnapped and trafficked in other countries. However, that is not very common, or our headlines would be full of these stories and the country would be in an uproar about our American girls being kidnapped and sexually exploited.

No, these are the girls who no one is looking for, let alone a Liam Neeson. No one was looking for me. My parents were extremely abusive, and as far as I know they never reported me as missing. That is sadly the case for many girls who are sex trafficked in America. They are not the types of girls who anyone cares enough about to look for. My hope is that as awareness is spread about this issue, we as a society can help prevent this atrocity.

napmeijer61 karma

Two scenes in that movie struck me and always stayed with me; the shack on the construction yard where the girls are so drugged up that they can't do anything, and the one in the house with the Albanians with the girl shackled to the bed - also drugged. Now, whenever I hear about sex trafficking I picture those 2 scenes. How true to reality was that? Are girls really that drugged up, or is it more likely that coercion or violence are at play?

Vedavati77 karma

As an adult I have been reading more of the research studies about this issue. I haven't looked too much into the connection between drugs and this type of work, but some studies I've read have suggested that girls are often drugged up in order to be complacent, or are introduced to highly addictive drugs to prevent them from running away, and to keep them under control. Those are tactics that are used, as often as tactics of coercion and violence are used.

xmp1861 karma

This reply sounds like you didn't even experience it - don't get me wrong, I'm not accusing you of not being who you say you are. I'd just like to hear your personal experience as well.

Were you ever drugged at any point?

Vedavati72 karma

Yes. And what I remember from the times I was drugged are some experiences that I don't really want to talk about in too much detail.

Brendan1123105 karma

What is your favorite pizza topping?

Vedavati143 karma

Hmmm. I like white sauce pizza. With spinach and mushrooms.

lord_christoph93 karma

How old were you when you first pulled in and how did it happen?

Vedavati164 karma

I was 11, close to age 12. I had run away from an abusive home situation which was no longer possible to return to. A man picked me up in his car, offering to help me. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, although now I can recognize these situations from a mile away. He was a pimp/trafficker, and proceeded to "break" me through physical violence and rape. He forced me to "turn tricks." All of the money went to him, of course. He constantly threatened me with death, physical violence, etc.

Many girls who end up in these situations come from homes where violence is prevalent, often sexual abuse, or substance abuse, etc. Pimps/traffickers somehow are able to look for and recognize girls who no one would notice or care for much if she was missing. They utilize tactics of control and manipulation to prevent the girls from leaving these situations... The specific details of other survivors' stories are varied, but there is more in common than not.

Shugbug198680 karma

first off i would like to say im sorry for what had happened. second, what would you like people to know that they don't know already? and how do you feel this could be prevented?

Vedavati161 karma

There is so much I would like people to know. The average age of entry into prostitution in America is 12-14 years old. These girls are not even at the age of consent yet, and are forced into the sex trade by adult men. It is not a glamorous life. While I'm sure there are women who choose sex work as a legitimate form of income and are adults when they enter the trade, and are consensual, that is not the norm; they are the exception.

I would like law enforcement to be aware that these girls are victims, not criminals. The Safe Harbor Act that passed in New York a few years ago finally changed this, so now these girls are being brought to needed services such as safe houses, long-term safe residential services, mental health care, education or GED programs, etc., etc. These girls need help and services, not to be placed behind bars. The adult men who are buying and selling these girls are the ones who belong behind bars.

I'm not sure what we, as a society, can do to prevent this from happening. I think we need to educate teachers and schools on reporting suspected child abuse, and put protections in place for teachers or school staff who report, so that they have absolutely no fear of reporting. There shouldn't be any sort of fear or threat of a teacher losing his or her job for contacting a Child Protective agency out of concern for a student. If we can get these girls to services -BEFORE- they run away, or are thrown out of their unstable or abusive homes, then we can prevent them from ending up in the hands of pimps and traffickers. I suppose more funding would be needed for Child Protective agencies so that they are able to respond thoroughly to the reports they receive.

wushuman24 karma

I'm not sure what we, as a society, can do

What about as individuals? Let's say we live in a large city, what sort of signs should we look out for (young girl with a much older unsavory looking man?) Should we call 911? What practical steps would you recommend to prevent this on a grassroots level.

Vedavati36 karma

I would suggest educating yourself and learning as much as you can about the issue. If you suspect an instance of trafficking, call the Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-3737-888.

Find out what groups, organizations, and agencies already exist in your community and join them. If none exist, start one. Organize a fundraiser, organize a march, start a petition. Write to your state government to pass the Safe Harbor Act, or other similar laws in your state. Host a documentary showing about the issue. Start a coalition or group in your community to start discussing the issue and steps you, as a group can take. Order free "Look Beneath the Surface" campaign posters from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and get a group together to post them throughout your town or city.

katbutt61 karma

How long were you stuck in this situation? I am so sorry this happened to you: having a daughter (and being a human being) thank you for speaking out!

Vedavati98 karma

I ran away from him after about 3 years. It had gotten to the point where I felt as though I was dead already, and no longer cared if he hunted me down and killed me.

Fortunately, I managed to escape that situation and was able to obtain an education and find resources for myself. I now hold two university degrees and am hoping to use my education and choice of profession to be able to make an impact to help girls like myself.

jagermeistr34 karma

Where did you obtain the resources to fund two college degrees? Seems unlikely as many people who aren't forced into sex rings have a great deal of trouble funding a college education.

Vedavati95 karma

I was able to be honest with my university about my situation, and received financial aid and scholarships and such.

Mancalime45 karma

Are you in favour of or opposed to the legalization and regulation of prostitution?

Vedavati63 karma

I'm honestly not sure. I'm supportive of whatever will prevent young, underage girls from being forced into the commercial sex industry. I support any initiative or law that will prevent CSEC from happening. I'm not sure if that means we should decriminalize or legalize prostitution, or keep it illegal.

I know in Sweden, it is legal to be a prostitute and to sell sex, but it is illegal to be a pimp or madam, and illegal to buy sex, (so, illegal to be a john or client.) It's an interesting model that turns the tables on the adult men who buy and sell little girls. I haven't looked into the research studies on this, or if there has been much research on its efficacy in reducing sex trafficking.

GPGrieco41 karma

You mentioned that some of your "clients" actually knew that you were there unwillingly. I've heard of people being with hookers but I never heard of someone knowing they were there unwillingly. Was this normal? It seems that if this information was tossed around freely it would be easy for law enforcement to help. Also you said he took you offering to help you, is this how girls are normally taken?

I am very sorry to hear what happened to you, and hope you speaking out about it can help stop it from happening to someone else.

Vedavati63 karma

Especially when I was first starting. I think it was pretty apparent that I was underage. And especially my first few clients, I feel it was obvious that I was terrified. After what I think was a few months (my memory of this time in my life is not the best), and threats of violence and actual beatings from my pimp/trafficker, I was able to put on a brave face.

In my research into this issue as an adult I've learned about the different types of pimps/traffickers. The one who forced me into the sex trade would be considered a "guerilla pimp" using violence, threats, and abuse to keep me under control. What I think might be more common (although I admittedly need to do more research) is for pimps to take on a "Daddy" role, or boyfriend role to young girls and coerce and manipulate them into sex work. Either way, these girls are underage, not even at the legal age of consent yet.

Leiryn39 karma

Did anyone ever question you two together in public? Did you get any std's?

Vedavati105 karma

In the areas I was visible to the public, girls like myself were common, and no one seemed to ask questions.

Unfortunately, for many girls in this situation, police will arrest -them- as the criminals, even underage, or too young to even consent. While the pimps, johns, and adult men who are buying and selling little girls face little to no repercussions and are rarely arrested or prosecuted. This is one of the things I would like to see changed in my lifetime.

bytor_211233 karma

In what sort of place is this activity "common", and from your unique perspective, what keeps these areas in that situation? Thank you for your participation here

Vedavati48 karma

I think it probably exists throughout the United States, but I'm almost certain it exists in every major city.

I think cycles of poverty and violence perpetuate this cycle, and we need to work on systemic solutions as a community to protect girls who are at risk of running away, being forced to leave home, or otherwise at risk of being trafficked and sexually exploited. This would involve training educators and school staff to respond better and more often to students they suspect are experiencing abuse or an unsafe home life, training law enforcement, and training and more funding to Child Protective agencies as well.

Leiryn31 karma

Did you ever get the urge to hurt any of the men/women you were forced to be with?

Vedavati80 karma

No. When I first had to "turn a trick," I asked the man for help, and he was dismissive. He had paid for a service, and didn't want to hear any protests, and proceeded to force me to have sex with him.

I quickly realized that these men were not going to help me, even if they recognized that I was there unwillingly. I never had the urge to hurt anyone, and I was too terrified to fight back. I was convinced that I would get murdered or in a lot of trouble if I made any wrong move.

BarneyBent29 karma

Thanks for doing this, I'm sure it can't be easy. Do you have any problems with intimate relationships as a result of your abuse? Have you had any boyfriends? If so, have you told them your past, and how have they reacted?

Vedavati66 karma

I'm still healing from the trauma. I open up about my past only to a very few, close, trusted friends. I haven't been ready for a romantic relationship yet, that's something I still need to work up to. Honestly, I'm still working on truly believing that there are good, kind, safe men out there. I know that there are, it's just really difficult to actually believe that on an emotional level after what I went through. I'm working on it.

BarneyBent15 karma

Thanks for the reply. I can't even imagine how difficult it must be. I guess the most important thing is you take it at your own pace, and don't let other people's expectations get the better of you.

Vedavati9 karma

Thank you for being so understanding and kind about it.

cycle_of_fists6 karma

There really are good, kind, safe men out there, I promise you x o o

Vedavati3 karma

Thank you. I know it's true on a logical level (though, still working on believing it!), but thanks for telling me again.

mess_is_lore2 karma

As a man, I want to tell you that there are great guys out there. I'm so sorry what you've went through, but I know you're a strong woman. I cant imagine being put in a situation like that. I know you will find someone that will make you happy and treat you right.

Vedavati4 karma

Thank you!

jagermeistr18 karma

If you were essentially kidnapped at 11, how did you get an education? Did this guy send you to school? How did someone who was disconnected from her parents (and likely all legal documentation that you exist) obtain legitimate employment? How old are you now?

If this is real I'm sorry for what happened, but this story and the often vague responses seems possibly fake.

Vedavati23 karma

After I escaped, I was able to access resources to help, including an agency that helped me obtain legal documentation (birth certificate, social security card, previous school records, etc.), as well as help me to obtain independent (emancipated) status.

It's ok, I understand the skepticism. I am intentionally keeping certain details vague or private, as I am not open in my professional life (or very much in my personal life, except for a few close friends) about my past.

douchebaggervance15 karma

Do you still like enjoy sex or has your past made you turned off by the prospect?

Vedavati16 karma

I'm still healing from the trauma of what happened, and sex isn't part of my life. It might be a long while still before I'm ready for that, or to be in any sort of romantic relationship.

Black_Wizard_Of_KFC14 karma

Wich age group were the most frequent buyers?

Vedavati36 karma

I wasn't the best guess of age at the time, but I'd say between 35 and 55. It's a big range, but at the time I thought they were all old, creepy men, and now I realize that to an 11 or 12 year old, someone who's in their upper 30s can seem old and creepy.

peterflores9512 karma

I hope this doesn't sound insensitive but, did you start when you were 11 years old or after you had been with the man for longer?

Vedavati19 karma

No, I was forced to start turning tricks and making money when I was 11. It isn't insensitive to ask.

There are many other girls in this situation right now, forced into the sex trade at 11, 12, 13, 14 years old.

lagnaippe12 karma

are you ok now? How did you get away? Were or are you exceptionally pretty? boy or girl?

Vedavati25 karma

I am doing wonderful now, thank you.

I've posted this earlier in the thread, but I ran away, hitchhiked across 3 state lines, and was able to get legitimate work and get myself back into school and such.

I am a girl. I'm not sure if I'm exceptionally pretty, I would say that I am of average appearance.

MsBostonLee10 karma

Did you ever become acclimated to the life, even get to a point that you felt it was going to remain your life? And how were you, thankfully, freed? Thank you, and glad you are safe and well.

Vedavati13 karma

I ran away from him after about 3 years, when I felt as though I was already dead. I was terrified, but I thought it was worth the risk of him killing me to try to escape. Fortunately, I managed to get away. Many girls in my situation would not have been so lucky, which is why I want to work to help raise awareness and change attitudes, laws, etc. in this country.

clondon10 karma

How prevalent would you say this is in the US? Is it more likely to happen in a certain part of the country, or is it widespread?

Vedavati17 karma

Here is one study conducted in 2001 to determine, among other things, the prevalence of the occurrence of CSEC in the United States: http://www.sp2.upenn.edu/restes/CSEC_Files/Exec_Sum_020220.pdf

I believe it is a widespread issue. It happened to me in a city, and I think it most likely exists in every major city in the U.S. The types of girls it impacts are typically girls from low-income homes, girls who have been sexually abused, girls who come from homes where physical abuse or substance abuse or both are present, and girls of color. Girls who run away or are forced to leave home are at the highest risk of becoming victims of CSEC.

Cheehu9 karma

What's your favorite food(s)?

Vedavati14 karma

Fruits. Especially strawberries, peaches, and apples.

stumpan4 karma

Any ideas to how your life would have looked if this wouldn't have happened? I just got the feeling that it contributed (in lack of a better word) to you performing well academically. Correct me if I'm wrong though. Gah, now I sound completely like an ass. Try to not miss understand me. I mean no harm at all. All the best luck to you <3

Vedavati17 karma

Thank you for the question. I often do wonder how my life would have been different if I had been born into a safe home, with loving parents, and had never been forced out on the streets or exploited, etc.

I'm honestly not certain. I think I still would be a very intelligent person, but I don't know if I would've had the same drive to succeed, without this motivation to help others. Although perhaps I would've been driven to excel in some other field of work or study. I'm not sure.

Dumebuggy3 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA.

If you don't mind sharing, what kinds of things happened to you while you were under his control? Is it anything like what we see in movies like "Taken"?

Also, how long ago did it happen?

I'm glad you made it out! It's good to see that you've come so far since it happened.

Vedavati19 karma

The film "Taken" doesn't paint an accurate picture of what it looks like when American girls are sex trafficked. If most of the girls being trafficked were from middle to upper class families, and were kidnapped while abroad, America would be in an uproar.

The majority of girls who become victims of CSEC are girls from low-income families, girls from homes where there is sexual abuse, physical abuse, substance abuse, neglect, or some combination of all of the above. They are typically girls of color. These are the girls no one is looking for, let alone Liam Neeson.

It's tragic, and there needs to be more awareness of what this issue actually looks like in this country, so that we, as a society, can put a stop to it. We need to be a community that cares, even when it is these girls' own family that fails them. It's a systemic issue and requires a systemic response.

goldleafsound3 karma

have you been in any positive relationships recently? i could understand this affecting the way you view sex and relationships. thanks for doing this, keep spreading awareness !

Vedavati9 karma

I'm still healing from the trauma. I do have excellent relationships with friends and colleagues. I have not been ready for a romantic relationship yet, that's something that might take me a while, and more healing.

CopperMyDog3 karma

How'd you get into it. Why not leave at the start on your first alone job

Vedavati42 karma

I was a terrified 11 year old little girl. The man who forced me into the life was violent and threatened me with death. I had absolutely nowhere else to go, and nowhere to turn to.

Sadly, this is the case for many other girls out there today. Some studies estimate that, annually, as many as 300,000 girls across the United States are at risk of ending up in these situations. They typically come from low-income families where there is already sexual abuse, physical abuse, substance abuse, neglect, etc. present. Returning home may not be an option. These girls (like I was) are, unfortunately, the types of girls that society does not value or put much effort into providing services for.

The_Real_Mr_M2 karma

as shown by Kony 2012 awareness isn't just enough. What else can people do?

Vedavati4 karma

Start a coalition in your community. Volunteer and get involved with agencies, organizations, and groups that already exist. Host a showing of a documentary about the issue. Create a fundraising event. Write to your state government about passing the Safe Harbor Act in your state.

Get educated, write grants, start a research project, start a nonprofit, etc. Start a petition. Organize a march.

MonkeyInATopHat2 karma

From a lot of your responses I have gotten the impression that you harbor a lot of resentment towards men. I am truly sorry for your situation and I understand if this is difficult to answer, but here goes. Do you think that men are solely to blame for sex trafficking?

Yes this is a loaded question. No I don't expect you to have a definitive answer. I am very curious on how this has affected you and your opinion of the opposite sex, so any input you can emphasize on that would be great.

Vedavati5 karma

I don't think that men are solely to blame for trafficking. I know that, probably moreso in other countries than in the U.S., there are female traffickers as well.

Beyond that, I don't blame men, I blame the subset of men who are capable of doing these horrible things. Especially the further I am away from the life, I recognize that my experiences with men, unfortunately, were experiences with the worst examples of men. -Normal- men don't hurt girls, don't abuse, don't rape. I realize that. Admittedly, it's still a struggle for me to overcome my fear and distrust of men. But I do have wonderful and trustworthy male friends now who have been nothing but supportive of me.

AndTheLink2 karma

How would someone go about helping people facing similar situations in their own city?

Vedavati9 karma

Awareness is a great place to start. There are resources at different agencies, documentaries about the issue. Very Young Girls is an excellent one about CSEC.

Getting involved in the community, and getting community involvement is a great start as well, perhaps you could start a Coalition of sorts? It'd be a great way to gather interested parties to start discussing the issue, collaborating together to work on it.

There might already be an agency or organization doing work on this issue in your community as well.

BaoZaker2 karma

Were there any crazy "clients" that made you do weird things?

Vedavati5 karma

Many of the men who paid to use me were forceful, even violent. They were there to meet a certain need, and none of them had any compassion for me, even if they were at all aware that I was in this situation unwillingly.

BaoZaker4 karma

Oh wow... major respect for you. I hope you are doing very well now even with what happen to you.

Vedavati3 karma

I'm doing wonderfully now, thank you. I think I'm probably an exception in how well I'm doing, but I think that's only because the girls who remain in these situations lack any resources or services that can help them. I truly believe that any girl who faced the same trauma and exploitation that I faced can, with the right services, supports, and resources, come out of it and become a strong, independent, successful, and educated leader.

rlseafor2 karma

Do you think that you can ever view sex as a good thing? I new a girl who was raped once, and she never got over it. Mentally scarred her for life.

Vedavati6 karma

It's going to take a while. I'm still not yet at a point where I'm ready to be in a romantic or sexual relationship. I understand that to people without trauma histories, sex is a healthy, fun experience to engage in, and also a healthy expression of love in the context of a relationship. I know that on a logical level, but the trauma has impacted me such that sex is just too much for me. It's too tainted, I've never had a good experience with it, it was always this violent, terrifying thing that happened to me. I hope those emotional scars heal one day.

It's understandable why girls who have been through sexual trauma may take a while, even years, to recover and heal from it completely. I'd recommend therapy, and finding a therapist she trusts and can form a connection with.

cursed_deity2 karma

do you think these monsters deserve death or rehabilitation ?

Vedavati4 karma

It's a really complicated issue. I'm sure that pimps and traffickers are involved in this due to their own histories, involving cycles of violence, broken homes, substance abuse, etc. It's extremely difficult for me to look at these men who hurt these girls so mercilessly, and only for greed and money, as human beings... but they are, and there are reasons behind their behaviors. We should begin with prevention, to stop men from becoming pimps/traffickers, and to prevent the types of adult men who buy and sell young girls.

And I support any response to them that will prevent girls from being exploited, be that rehabilitation, incarceration, etc., etc.

poontyphoon2 karma

Why didn't you call the police immediately? They would have taken you away and got you living somewhere better, wouldn't they?

Vedavati0 karma

I was terrified of the police.

And it's a good thing, really. I've learned, as an adult, in my studies and work on this, that police are more likely to arrest a girl for prostitution, even if she is not yet at the age of consent. However, I think we are seeing a shift in this in our culture and the more awareness there is about this issue, and more training to law enforcement, the better it will get.

the_bell_jar2 karma

Hi, I have nothing to ask but I'd just like to say thank you for doing this AMA, and that you seem like an incredibly strong woman. It truly amazes me that you managed to rebuild your life after escaping from this terrible thing, and that you have so much drive to help others. Stay strong and keep at it. -hug-

Vedavati3 karma

Thank you so much.

Vedavati1 karma

I have contacted the moderators and am waiting on a reply back. I'm offline for now, I'll return tomorrow!

Thank you all so much for all of the questions, and all of the support, and thank you so much to those of you who have said you are inspired to start something or join something working on this issue in your community. You'll do amazing things, just by being more aware.

To any survivors who may, somehow, stumble across this: You are not alone. And there is help out there, please, I urge you, call the Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-3737-888). Know that there are other options, there is a way out. Lots of love, Vedavati

NiceGuy1591 karma

You said you're doing great now..how did you rehabilitate? and would you like retribution through the conviction of the man who put you through this? Whats going through your mind now as your doing this AMA?

Vedavati2 karma

Honestly, I'm terrified. I'm very private about my past, and only a few, close, trusted friends know about it. I'm not open at all in my professional life, nor was I to my fellow students or professors in college. I decided to do this out of the hope that I could raise awareness about the issue to help other girls who are still trapped in this situation, or are at risk of being trafficked.

I healed through some therapy, but mostly through the help and continued support of the very few, amazing people I have trusted with my story in my life.

chaoticlychaotic1 karma

How had this affected you in your relationships? Not necessarily romantic/sexual ones, though I'm curious your comments on those as well.

Vedavati1 karma

I have wonderful friendships, although I only have a few, close, trusted friends who know about my past.

I'm still healing, and have not yet been ready for a romantic/sexual relationship.

Sacram3nt1 karma

What can we do to help promote human trafficking awareness and help put an end to it?

Vedavati2 karma

Start with educating yourself. Read as much as you can, look at The Polaris Project website, and other websites and resources. If you have access to university library databases, look up some scholarly articles and research studies about the issue.

And then share what you learned with others. Host a showing of a documentary about it.

Start a coalition or advocacy group in your community. Find out if any agencies, groups, or organizations already exist and join them, volunteer, take part. Organize a fundraiser, organize a march. Start a petition. Write to your state government about passing a Safe Harbor Act in your state. There's lots of ways to help and get involved. It definitely starts with awareness and education though.

flyingkiwigirl1 karma

Did you / are you receiving counselling? Does it help?

Vedavati1 karma

I have been in therapy, though I am not currently. It was helpful, but I think having healthy, supportive friendships helped me the most, especially the few close friends I've trusted enough to open up to about my past.