“I was blown away…there was a name for what had happened to them – what had happened to me – human trafficking. Sex Trafficking… For nearly twenty years, I carried around this shameful secret about my past, a secret which led me to believe that I was dirty, that I was damaged goods. And it was a lie all along. I wished I had known that I was not unworthy. I was a survivor. I was a survivor of human trafficking.” Holly Austin Smith, child trafficking survivor and anti-human trafficking advocate, speaker and author, shares her story.
How did you become involved in the movement against sex trafficking and sexual exploitation?
It was on a Friday or Saturday night in 2009 that I found myself home alone with the television remote. Ben, my fiancé, was out with a friend, and I was pouring wine and baking brownies to celebrate having the apartment to myself. I’d been working long hours at my full-time job, and I needed a night in.
I flopped on the couch and flipped through television channels. Maybe I watched a movie or a couple of sitcoms before coming across a documentary about human trafficking overseas. I can’t remember which station it was on (possibly HBO), but it was about this woman who was a survivor of human trafficking (in India, I think), and she worked to rescue other young girls from the local brothels.
There was one girl in particular who was being sold…
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