Barbara Amaya was, literally, nobody's girl. Raised in the 1960s in Fairfax, Virginia by a father who worked at the Pentagon, and a stay-at-home, alcoholic mother, Amaya ran away to D.C. at 12 to escape her father's sexual abuse. After finding "refuge" with a hippy couple, she was soon selling her body on the streets of D.C. At 13, she was "sold" to a New York City pimp named Moses.
For the next five or so years, Amaya's life was a horror show of filthy needles, arrests, disgusting johns, and vicious beatings from her pimp. Heroin was her only source of solace. After several failed attempts to detox and to reunite with her dysfunctional family, Amaya finally pulled herself out of the nightmare.
During a short-lived marriage, Amaya had a baby girl. Although she succeeded in getting a good job with the federal government, it didn't last. When her many juvenile arrests for prostitution and drugs under different names came to light in a routine background check, she lost her job. Burdened by the shame she felt about her past, Amaya became increasingly agoraphobic, and, eventually, extremely ill. Only after she realized she had been a victim of human trafficking, did she recover and find even more of her amazing strength.
Barbara Amaya's story of survival and escape from sexual slavery is extraordinary. She not only survived the horrors of human trafficking, the unfairness of victim-blaming, and the outrage of having her juvenile arrest record used against her, she also survived a childhood where she was abandoned by those that should have protected her. She has now become one of the leading voices warning against the growing danger of human trafficking.
Although the U.S. and other western industrialized nations are cracking down on it, there is no sign that human trafficking is stopping, or even ebbing, in the near future. Young men and women, including children, from both the developed and the developing world are being snared by traffickers. Sexual slavery exists as much today as it did 40 years ago, when Amaya became one of its victims. Today, however, Amaya is no longer "nobody's girl." She is, instead, the voice of everyone's girl and boy. Her book must become required reading for parents, lawmakers, law enforcement agencies, and schools everywhere.
(In return for an honest review, I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.)
Publisher: Animal Media Group LLC; 1st edition (October 26, 2015)
(Photo of Barbara Amaya)