Slavery brands, similar to the tattoo that is emblazoned on 17-year-old Adriana’s chest, were once signs of slave ownership but are now being used on trafficking victims. “I call it my war wound. I got it when I was 14 years old, and he was one of my pimps,” she said…
For 30 years, Lois Lee has managed an organization called Children of the Night that offers these girls education and a chance at a better life. She explains that the girls see the brand differently. “They belong to somebody. It’s important to them. Someone has claimed me. Now I belong to a group.”
Adriana agreed: “I was proud to have it. It says I’m for you. I will never leave you. If I mark up my body for you, risk my life for you. I’ll do anything for you.” She says she has been through a lot. “Whether it’s a gun to your head, a knife to your belly, whether it’s you being raped or robbed or whatever it is. … Eventually you get used to it.”
At 13, she ran away from a home where her father was raising her. She needed money. She met a man at a party who promised her everything and introduced her to other girls who were dressed in cool clothes with their nails done. “I thought they were awesome. I thought they were beautiful. I loved their bright clothes. I loved everything about it.”
She was hooked. “I can only speak for myself. You’re not thinking about consequences. You’re not thinking about killers and rapists. You’re thinking, ‘I can make this much money? I can get all this stuff? I don’t have to go to school. I don’t have to listen to anyone,'” she said, except of course she did have to obey someone.
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