Stop Sex Trafficking

Human Trafficking Survivor Shares Story of Victimization, Rescue and Recovery

Posted: 2/19/2015       Author: Maddie Garrett

COLORADO SPRINGS - | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

A survivor of human trafficking and forced prostitution is speaking up and telling her story for the third annual Human Trafficking Awareness and Advocacy Day at the Colorado State Capitol on Thursday.

Jessica Dillow was sold as a young girl into the sex trade and abused for more than a decade. Now, she wants others to hear her story in hopes of making a difference and raising awareness about the sex trade that takes place in cities across the country, including in Southern Colorado.

On Wednesday evening, she finds comfort and peace walking the campus of Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs where she attends class.

“I’ve missed years of education but that cannot stop me from pursuing a future and a hope,” said Dillow.

She said just a few years ago, going to class and getting an education were things she never dreamed possible, as she was entrenched in the dark world of human trafficking.

“I was so full of what I thought I was, so full of feeling dirty, so full of thinking I was only good for prostitution,” said Dillow.

Dillow wasn’t even 10 years old before she said her family members started selling her for sex. She was not allowed to go to school and had no escape.

“Having no friends, having no school, having nobody be able to see what was taking place, caused the abuse to perpetrate even greater, which then increased the number of men that I would see,” she explained.

Dillow was only a child, but said her family would sell her to men several times a day.

“Men would be brought to my home, to my bedroom, to the garage, to the basement, I would be brought to hotels, I would be brought to homes in the suburbs,” she recalled.

Eventually, Dillow was sold to a pimp and forced to prostitute herself.

“As much as somebody does something for survival doesn’t mean that it’s something that their heart desires,” she said.

Dillow said she was trafficked in her home country of Canada and at some point brought to the U.S. for the sole purpose of prostitution.

But one day everything changed. When Dillow was 21 years old, a woman from Colorado recognized that she might be a victim of human trafficking and handed her a piece of paper with her phone number on it.

“And she told me I could call her if I wanted to call her,” recalled Dillow.

She was nervous and scared, but finally worked up the courage to give the woman a call. Turns out, the woman was an advocate who helped victims of human trafficking and former prostitutes.

“She reached out and helped me so I was 21 years old when I was able to escape,” said Dillow.

Dillow said she got her on a plane to Denver and then to a safe house in Colorado Springs. It was her first taste of freedom.

“I remember looking up into the sky and seeing that it was blue for the first time,” she said.

But Dillow was not an American citizen and only had a six month visa. She was forced to return to Canada with no support system, and had one final struggle with a pimp. She finally escaped once and for all, saying it was by the grace of God she got out.

“It’s truly a divine miracle,” said Dillow.

Recovery has been difficult after years of trauma, but Dillow said if it wasn’t for the woman who reached out to help and her faith, she wouldn’t be where she is today. Now she is just one semester away from graduating with a degree in clinical psychology and she’s set to marry her best friend, John, in June.

She calls her relationship one of redemption.

“I want people to know that there’s healing, and that there’s life beyond the victimization,” said Dillow.

But she also wants people to know something else, to know that human trafficking is all around them.

“As a survivor leader, I know it’s taking place with the girls that I mentor, the girls that I work with, what I want people to know is that it’s taking place in their backyards,” she said.

Dillow now works with different ministries to help and mentor other survivors of human trafficking in Southern Colorado. On Thursday, she will speak at the Human Trafficking Awareness event in Denver at 12:30pm.

The event starts at 8:30 at the Capitol, for more information go to the Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado’s website:

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“A big part of the problem is that victims of human trafficking crimes often do not realize that they are being exploited. From dishwashers to prostitutes, many believe they are working off debt.”

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