‘I knew that it was nobody but God that finally got me away’: human trafficking survivor recalls months of captivity with her children

Every year, millions of men, women and children are trafficked worldwide.
Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 4:18 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2023 at 6:28 PM CDT

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - An ArkLaTex woman who was kidnapped, along with her children, managed to survive an ordeal many people fear – human trafficking.

(Due to ongoing court proceedings, the victim will be referred to as Amanda, an alias.)

Every year, millions of men, women and children are trafficked worldwide. Traffickers may use certain tactics to lure their victims, and once trapped, victims find it impossible to get away.

Amanda, a resident of Dallas, Texas, said her life changed forever when she met a man online and decided to take him up on a harmless trip to the casino. He had even told Amanda that his grandmother would babysit her two children while they went on their date. But what seemed like a harmless idea took an unexpected turn.

When Amanda and her kids got into the man’s vehicle, he sped away with them, taking them from Texas to Louisiana.

“When we got here, he immediately took me and my children to a hotel room. And he had a gun, so I was being held forcefully,” she recalled.

Amanda and her two, young children were secluded and unable to escape.

“He would hold me and my kids hostage. No phone, no nothing. And then when I had to do the things I was doing, he would keep my phone on call, and then he would also come to the room occasionally when I was doing dates to make sure that I would not run away,” Amanda said.

Her kidnapper wasted no time posting an online ad, soliciting Amanda for sex.

“He started forcing me to work there, work for him. My children were never allowed to leave the room with me. My children were beat. He was hitting on my children; he was hitting on me,” she said.

Amanda wanted to escape and run for help but was terrified that her kidnapper would hurt her children.

After three months of captivity, a glimmer of hope appeared. Due to a noise complaint about the hotel room, hotel staff called the police.

“[Police] came to the hotel room. They came to the door, and they beat the door down, and they ended up getting in. When they did, I was scared. They had guns on us. But once they figured out what was going on, they calmed my kids down, they calmed me down,” Amanda explained, “And I was thanking God because I knew that it was nobody but God that finally got me away from him and out of his presence.”

Although even after being freed from her captor’s grip, trauma reminds Amanda daily that she isn’t entirely free. She still has nightmares and flashbacks from her time as a trafficking victim.

Despite the trauma she still faces, Amanda is learning how to cope with life again. She’s starting to piece her life back together at the Providence House, an emergency shelter that has a mission of breaking the homeless cycle they are helping her gain back her independence that she once had.

“There is no one brush stroke that can cover every single scenario around homelessness,” Providence House Executive Director Verni Howard said. “And so, our case managers and our team, we are tasked with working with that individual with those children, figuring out how you got here, surrounding them with a lot of love and support, again so that they can move into a self-sufficient life.”

Since living at the Providence House, Amanda is finding a sense of purpose again as she focuses on moving forward and learning to heal from within.

“Now I am actually doing my HiSET to get my high school diploma. I should be done with that in three months from now. I will have my high school diploma, and I am also going to register in BPCC, so I can go to school to be a counselor,” Amanda said.

If you believe you’ve encountered a sex trafficking case, call the non-emergency line to your local police department or call the 24/7 homeland security tip line to file a report with a specialist.