The survivors Harvest House serves come from various backgrounds, and their stories are all different. The identities and life details of our actual clients are confidential, so we created Sage, Mercedes, "Starr", Jalen, and Leah, whose fictional experiences reflect those of the children served by Harvest House.
We want to tell the stories of local survivors without betraying their identities, and we hope that these fictional accounts based on the experiences of the kids we serve will increase understanding and prevention of child sex trafficking in Southeast Texas.
**While not explicit, these stories may be intense for some readers.**
Sage lives with her dad and step-mom and is home-schooled. Her dad sometimes abuses her and her step-mom. She met her boyfriend online, and after a few weeks he convinced her to send him a nude photo. He threatened to share the photo with her youth group if she didn’t meet up with him, and when she did, he took her to a house in an unfamiliar neighborhood with a few other kids. She didn’t know how to leave, and he sometimes got violent. During lunchtime on work days and on nights and weekends, they were dropped off at a local motel where they were trafficked.
One night, local law enforcement pulled over and arrested the trafficker while several of the kids were in the car. They were re-connected with their parents and connected with services at Harvest House.
Mercedes lives with her two parents in a middle-class neighborhood and goes to the local public school. A slightly older, attractive boy recently reached out to her on Instagram, and they’ve been messaging daily. He goes to the high school she is zoned to, plays sports, and has his own car. After messaging for a few weeks, he convinced her to sneak out after her parents went to sleep. He started taking her to a local hotel a few nights a week where she was trafficked by several men each night. An Uber dropped her off at home before her parents got up, and she continued to go to school and her after-school activities.
One night, local law enforcement conducted a bust at the hotel her trafficker uses. He and several buyers were arrested, and they connected her with services at Harvest House.
“Starr” has a single dad who does the best he can while working multiple jobs, and he struggles to make ends meet as he cares for “Starr” and her younger siblings. A year ago, to help ease the financial burden on her dad, “Starr” ran away and met someone who offered to give her food and a place to stay if she would dance in a strip club that his friend owns. She goes by “Starr” there, and he posted sex ads of her online. He tells her that when she pays off her debt to him, he will start paying her, but that hasn’t happened yet.
“Starr” hasn’t been to school in more than a year. She is still in “the life” and is still being trafficked. Yesterday, she saw a poster in a bathroom for the National Human Trafficking Hotline and an invitation to get out of “the life”, but she hasn’t decided if she wants to call yet.
Jalen lives with his grandmother and goes to private school. A few years ago, one of his uncles started sexually abusing him and taking nude photos of him. Jalen’s uncle recently posted the photos as ads online, and he threatened to show them to his grandmother if Jalen told anyone.
His uncle started taking him to Houston hotels or Louisiana casinos on weekends and pressuring him to recruit other students at his school to be trafficked. He pressured Jalen to look for people to join him on their trips who needed to make extra money or seemed like they needed a place to belong.
For a long time, he was too ashamed to tell anyone what was going on. However, after the first friend he recruited was assaulted, he reached out to a trusted relative to ask for help.
Leah is in foster care and goes to the local public high school. When an older boy showed interest in her online, she was grateful for the attention. Sending nude photos had always been part of her previous dating relationships, so when her new boyfriend asked for a few, Leah didn’t think much of it. However, he threatened to show them to her younger brother and foster parents if she didn’t do what he told her to. He started picking her up in the middle of the night and taking her to a local truck stop where she had to make a certain amount of money before he would take her home.
At the truck stop, she was told about the National Human Trafficking Hotline. She called it, and was connected to services at Harvest House.
These stories only partly represent the experiences of the clients served by Harvest House. Be a part of their healing journey by making a donation below.
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