Tiffany Simpson is a survivor of child sex trafficking who is currently in Pulaski State Prison. This is her story.
When you feel the ocean water pull you in, it’s warm. A warm that brings you to this peaceful place where all your troubles float away. That is what I have heard. I am Tiffany Simpson, and I am 27 years old. I have never swam in the ocean.
Too Hurt and Empty
My dad was never around. He was convicted of murder when I was six. Neither was my mom. Her real child was the bottle. I came second to her addiction. I know she was hurting.
My grandmother and Aunt got custody of me when I was 13. They tried to raise me, but I was too hurt and empty. So, even that tiny bit of affection that my trafficker offered me, felt like an ocean of love.
In high school, it was hard to fit in. After a while, the only friends I had were the guys who were having sex with me. I didn’t go to school much anymore.
I still craved the whole family thing with a mom and dad and me in the middle. By 16, I knew that was never going to happen. So, I left looking for a different kind of love. That’s when I was introduced to cocaine, and pretty soon guys were trading it for sex with me. Each time the police would find me with another guy, they just sent me home.
I Met My Trafficker
Right after my 17th birthday, I met Sean. He was 34 years old. It really felt like love, like all those butterflies and stuff. Only to him I was just a walking paycheck. My heart was the bank where he deposited all his sweet thoughts and took out all his abuse. Love was my real addiction. I knew, he didn’t love me, but I felt warm when he said it anyway.
He would take me to strange places and force me to have sex with the men there, men who didn’t listen when I asked for help. I just kept thinking, there was nowhere for me to run to, even if I had tried. to go back to a home where I felt no love or to a school where teachers looked at me like I was trash.
Sean said, he loved me, that he would take care of me. Now, I know it wasn’t love.
It was an ocean of fear that drowned me.
Beatings and Death Threats -My Grandmother, My Baby, Me
I started getting sick in the morning. Some people say, it brings a couple closer. But he said he would kill me and my baby if I didn’t have sex for money. Most of the time when he would force me to have sex with men, he would be in the other room robbing them of their stuff. Things got worse, more men, more beatings and my belly was growing.
One day, I actually called my grandmother to come and get me, but when she arrived, he was behind me holding me by my hair. I told her, I changed my mind. Sean said, he was set my grandmother’s house on fire, and kill her if I tried anything like that again. I believed him. I was trapped, ashamed and alone. The chains were heavier.
I didn’t have the word then, but I do now. I was a slave. I would go months without seeing my family because my face was covered in bruises. I started thinking of suicide. This started to sound sweet.
When I found out I was having a baby boy, I told Sean, I want out. He dug a knife into my leg and refused to take me to the hospital. I started to lose so much blood that he finally took me but he never left my side. I wanted to ask for help but was so scared. I wish to this day that I had risked it all and spoken up.
Sean was being nice to me. It turned out that he wanted me to lure a 13 year old girl to him.
I said no, but he beat me again. I had to save my baby.
When she texted me she was going to run away, he grabbed my phone and started texting her to meet soon. Soon, we were driving to pick Caitlin up.
He drove us down a dirt road to a house, where four men were waiting. Caitlyn was scared when they touched her, but she was eventually forced into a room with one of them. He handed Sean the money. I had to have sex with the other three men. I was too scared to try and help her.
When the police came, I thought they were here to help me. I thought that I would have my baby and be a normal girl. Only they treated me like the criminal, and said, I was a child prostitute.
CHARGED and PRISON
The police charged me with sex trafficking. They found me as a bad person. The lawyers and judge did too. My own attorney called me, damaged goods.
I started to believe I was guilty. I felt like I had disappeared off the face of this earth or maybe no one had ever seen me at all. I feel that people see us as statistics unless it happens to them, or someone they love. Society wanted me in a cement box so they didn’t have to look at their mistake.
ASKING A VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION
A year later, I read a U.S.A.Today article about sex trafficking. I wrote to Andrea, the woman in the article and asked her, Am I a victim of sex trafficking, or am I, just a prostitute?
It’s been eight years since I wrote to Andrea. Eight years of having Andrea and all of Karana Rising by my side.
Caitlyn says, someone raped her. I believe her. I guess the mistake Sean made was thinking Caitlyn would stay quiet like me. I believe Caitlyn.
I didn’t know what love was but now I know that love does not beat you, degrade you, or sell your body. I understood true love when I had my baby boy.
They say that when you die you see the most beautiful things. I hope to see myself with my child by the ocean. If you believe survivors today, then tomorrow there will be less victims.
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