Tika Thorton grew up in S. Los Angeles, where she was swept into a world of sex trafficking and manipulation. Today she’s an advocate who helps fellow survivors and fights to end the human trafficking crisis. Hear Tika’s story, as well as insights for a listener who wanted to support his girlfriend as she manages her own sexual trauma in this week’s Girl Boner Radio episode.
Stream it on Apple Podcasts/iTunes, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, Spotify or below! Or read on for a lightly edited transcript.
The interview featured in this episode was recorded in 2017. Hear the full, unedited conversation and August and Dr. Megan’s thoughts for listener, Jeff, via patreon.com/girlboner.
“I’m a Warrior Now”: Tika Thornton’s Story
a Girl Boner Radio transcript
Tika: What I love to say is that I went from a victim and then I became a survivor and now I’m a warrior. You know, now I’m a warrior against the fight. I’m here for the other women. I’m here to understand, not to judge… I’m here to, to be that person in their lives. I’m here to be that Tika I wish I had.
I met Tika Thornton in 2016, when we shared a TEDx Women stage in Beverly Hills. The theme of that event was “It’s About Time,” and a bunch of really powerful stories were told. Tika’s talk moved me the most, and I’m certain I was not alone there.
Tika is an advocate against sex trafficking who survived trafficking herself. She’s also an all around delightful human being. She joined me in the studio back then to explore her journey — from survivor to thriver to warrior — including ways she’s cultivated self confidence and trust, making way for the caring relationships and intimacy she deserves. And all she she shared seemed too important to leave in the Girl Boner archives. I hope you appreciate her story, and her heart, as much as I have.
As always, take care of yourself first and foremost, especially if sexual trauma or abuse are sensitive topics.
[ambient, acoustic music….]
August: So you mentioned growing up in South Central LA. You grew up in an area known as The Jungles. Could you explain what that atmosphere was like?
Tika: Well, it’s an area that has to have at least a hundred to 200 apartment buildings. It’s considered as a concrete jungle. That’s why they call it the jungles. Especially back in the eighties and nineties, it was very wild, and still is, I would assume very saturated with drugs and alcohol and violence and gangs and, you know, just a lot of trauma in one area.
I mean, Now that I’m an adult, I see it as it was unhealthy, but as a child, it was my neighborhood. It’s where I grew up. So I didn’t really know any different until I started to go to school outside of my neighborhood.
She attended school in the Pacific Palisades, one of the wealthiest Los Angeles neighborhoods. And by age 12, she started to fantasize about leaving, even if it meant doing so on her own.
Tika: Like I said, in my TED Talk, I come from a long line of generational trauma. And so my parents did the best that they could with the amount of knowledge and, you know, experience that they’ve known. My father had a battle with addiction. My mother, she was just, she wasn’t very happy and despite knowing that I’m a child and, and understanding that I’m not supposed to be exposed to a lot of things that I was, I didn’t feel loved. I know my dad loves me, you know, he’s my, everything. I know my mom loves me, but at the time I didn’t have an outlet. I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I didn’t have anyone to tell me, like, your parents are going through a lot and it has nothing to do with you.
It’s not a reflection of you. It’s just something that they’re going through within themselves. As a 12 year old girl, there was no way that I can understand that. So I took it personally and I felt like, my mother being a single parent at the time, I felt like I was a burden on her. And I felt that if I, if I left things would be better.
And you know, she’ll be able to have more money for my brother who is five years younger than me. And, you know, she’ll be able to not really stress about me because I was, wasn’t a problem child, but I was just the average, you know, rebellious 12 year old.
So one day Tika decided to leave. It was an impromptu decision. She really didn’t have a plan.
Tika: No, no, not a plan. I had gotten in trouble when I was at school. And so I was just like, I can’t deal with it. You know, I don’t want my mom to be upset with me. I don’t want her to lash out at me. It was like, let me just leave with nothing.
I thought that I was mature for my age. You know, I was pretty dumb for my age.
August: You’re like, I got this.
August: We always think we’re totally mature. We’re grownups practically. We can take care of ourselves. Who knows what’s gonna happen?
Tika: Yeah. No clothes, no money, no food. No nothing. I’m just gonna leave, you know? We were very impulsive at that age.
August: And you feel invincible too.
So, Tika left. She walked…and walked…through the streets of south Los Angeles. As the sun lowered down behind the buildings and rain fell over her skin, she kept on walking.
[light rain, becoming stomy] Then a man pulled up beside her.
Tika: He was just like, “Hey,” you know, and I was trying to ignore him because like, you know, stranger danger or whatever.
And then he was just like, “Hey, I just wanna talk to you I’m not trying to harm you in any way.” And he was just like, “it’s raining. Like, are you, are you okay?” And I’m just like, you know, I’m tired, you know, it’s wet. It’s probably about 12 one o’clock in the morning now. And it’s just like, Okay, I need to figure out something. If somebody’s willing to help me, I should allow them to help me. You know, that was my logic at that time. And so he asked me if I wanted to get in the car to get out the rain. And I was just like, “Yeah, I do.” My feet are tired, I’m tired. Like, I need, I need some rest.”
August: Yeah, and some shelter. Even some respite from the cold rain. Who wouldn’t want a little support?
August: And so you got into the car.
Tika: Yes. [car door closing, rain softens]
We started talking and he was just asking me how old I am. Of course I lied about my age, and he asked me why I’m walking around the street. So I was just like, “Well, me and my mom got into it and I just left.”
And then it was just a little conversation about music or about what I like, you know, just things that kinda piqued my interest. And then he offered me some weed. You know, I know drugs, you know. I know crack. I know alcohol. At that time it was like PCP and heroin. And I knew all of those things and I just knew that all of those things had a bad stigma. But when it came to weed, it was just like, oh, it’s just a recreational thing. It’s cool. You know, you just get the munchies,
August: You chill out, get all the goofy.
Tika: Yeah. That’s it. So I was like, if I’m gonna try anything, it’d probably be this. I wanted the goofy. Yeah. You know, I want the chill because I wasn’t there. So I accepted the invitation.
She took a puff and then…nothing really happened. Weren’t you supposed to feel weed within minutes?
Tika: At first, I didn’t really notice how it felt. I was just thinking like, oh, it’s not working on me. You know, this is it. I’m immune to it. And then…I woke up in a strange place.
The joint she puffed had not contained only weed. The man was not a kind stranger. And Tika was not okay.
Tika: When I woke up, I was, I was still groggy, you know, from whatever the weed was laced with. And I started trying to focus on everything, but my head was hurting and my body was in pain. So I was trying to figure out, okay, what the heck is going on?
August: Where were you?
Tika: I was in a room. It was really, I mean, like when you look on movies and you see crack houses and stuff like that, like it was something out of a movie. Sheets on the windows and, you know, it was like a hole in the wall. It was just, it was bad.
Once I like saw where I was sort of, and was starting to understand what was going on. You know, there was a guy on top of me. That’s where the pain was coming from. And, you know, there was moisture dripping on my face. He was sweating on me. I was in shock, to say the least.
And so when I figured out, you know, that it was something on my face, I tried to wipe my face, and I couldn’t cuz my hands were tied up.
August: Did you know what rape was at that point?
Tika: Yes. Yes. In the neighborhood that I grew up in, we are exposed to a lot of things at a very young age. So hearing about rape, sexual assault, we are very aware of that. And so I figured out what was happening. And then once I tried to scream for help, I was just getting punched in the face, you know, repeatedly and I would black out or I’ll be knocked unconscious. And then it was the nightmare. Because it was different men. Every time I came to, it was different men.
And this happened, I really don’t know. I was gone probably for about three days, four days at this time.
During those days, the men kept her tied up, giving her only brief breaks. And like many survivors of abuse and assault, she feared that trying to escape would make matters even worse.
Tika: I was untied so I can use the restroom, but it’s like, there’s a picture that’s on Facebook of a horse being tied to a plastic chair. And every time I see that, I think about that situation because I could have left, I could have walked out the door, but I was so fearful that I just stayed put.
Finally on the 3rd or 4th day, Tika made a demand to another stranger that may have saved her life.
Tika: The apartment was abandoned and the landlord had came in and he found me and he was like, “what are you doing here?” And I said, “I’m not telling you anything until you get me outta here.”
I could barely walk. So I got in the backseat of his car and he just drove and he was just like, “well, where do you want me to go?” And I said, ” just drive.” And literally nightfall came and he parked at a laundry mat and I kind of waddled out of the car and a lady saw me and she asked me ” what’s going on?”
I told ’em like, you know, “I’m 12 years old and this guy had me and, you know, these guys were having sex with me and I was tied up.” And I didn’t have any clothes on, didn’t have any shoes. So the lady just took whatever that was left at the laundromat. And she gave me the clothes and I just walked away. I went back to the same neighborhood.
August: It’s what you knew.
Tika: It’s what I knew.
August: Did you go to your home?
Tika: No, no. I just went back to somewhere whereI felt a little bit more comfortable even though it was where it started. I can’t really remember too much after that. I was just numb.
I end up going into juvenile hall and that was a safe place for me. I was able to get rest. I didn’t have to worry about anyone over me. Anyone harming me, anyone yelling at me. I just had to do what I was told and just be, which is a huge change from where it was before.
August: A safe space.
Of course, Tika couldn’t stay there indefinitely. She didn’t even want to. And she was still a child, who had been through so much. Sadly, those nightmarish days were not the end of her hardships.
She did have temporary respite at a wonderful group home for girls, where she said the buildings were named after trees. Otherwise, though, her life veered into more darkness. Or rather, the darkness took from her.
Tika: I was 12 years old and I think I knew what was going on. I thought I knew what life was. I wanted to go out. I was like, you know what? That happened. It’s an isolated situation. It will never happen again. And I was a runaway pretty much in my teenage years. And every time I would meet a guy and I would tell them exactly what happened to me, they took advantage of it.
August: You’re kidding, uh…
Tika: Yeah. So it went from, I don’t know, I can’t consider this guy as a pimp, but he was, he was exploiter. I will give him that title. But the other guys that I met, the second one, he was just like, you know, well, you’ve already done it, you know? What’s the problem. Just this way you’re more control.
Being manipulated or forced into sexual labor is what differentiates sex trafficking from sex work, by the way.
And while the notion of sex trafficking often draws up images of orphans being brought into the US from other countries during the Superbowl, that’s not as common as the domestic sex trafficking that happens right here in the U.S. every day, affecting far too many vulnerable people.
The traffickers often use a formula, which Tika described like this:
Tika: You take a, a young child or someone that’s very vulnerable because of their financial situation because of their emotional situation, their mental situation, you know, you take someone from a traumatic background and you, you basically give them the things that they are missing in their lives.
And you basically give them what they’re missing in their lives.
Tika: You know, some people will give them clothes , you know, they will take them out to certain places that they’ve never been to before. They’ll show them attention. They’ll give them a false sense of love.
And for someone that is looking for those things that are desiring to have those things in their lives, they’re going to cling on that person. And from there, it’s just how they present the situation to them. Most cases there is called a Romeo or a boyfriend pimp. And what they do is they, they wine and dine the girl or they just, you know, talk to them in a way that that’s like a fairytale that they’ve always wanted a man to come into their lives and say certain things to them.
And then, you know, if they’re staying in a hotel room, they’ll say, well, “I’m broke. I spent all this money on your clothes and taking you out. And now I don’t have enough money to pay for the room. So you’re gonna have to go somewhere else or you’re gonna have to go back home” or whatever the situation is.
And then the girl usually is like, “no, but I love you that I wanna stay with you.” And then they say, “okay, well, the only way that we can stay together is if you go spend some time with Chuck over here.” and the girl will be like, “well, I don’t wanna do that. You know, how would you feel about me?”
Like, and then he’ll reassure her, you know, “it’s only sex, you know, it’s, it’s nothing. We have each other’s hearts, it’s not about your body.” There’s some smooth talkers!
August: It’s very strategic and methodical. It is. And especially when you are craving, compassion and love and someone to care for you as we all do as humans. And when you haven’t had that at home or you’re living on the streets to have that kind of comfort and you have companionship and that’s probably why I’ve, I’ve heard that so many people who are being trafficked don’t realize they’re being trafficked because they think they’re in a relationship. They’re being taken care of for the first time.
When Tika was 18, she had a turning point in her own journey, when she saw that she wasn’t truly being cared for or loved.
Tika: I was badly beaten up by a pimp and once I was in the hospital and once I came to, cause I was unconscious for a minute, the nurse asked me like, “what happened?”
I didn’t wanna talk to the police. I didn’t wanna talk to anybody. But when she came to me and asked me what happened to me – I will never forget her, a tiny little Jamaican woman with a very thick accent. And I just told her. I told her my life story, and she says, “oh, you gotta go.” so she gave me $200 and she gave me hospital hygiene stuff. I mean, everything that I had was in a grocery bag. you know, And I left.
August: Finally compassion without a price tag.
August: Wow. She was an angel in your life.
August: That you brought in by opening up and, and you sensed that, that was a safe place to,
August: I imagine your instincts had to have grown quite strong about people.
Tika: Yeah. And I learn fast. Probably about the time I was 14 years old, I knew how to stay outta danger. Even though I was still in danger because I was in the life and I was taking a lot of risk, but at the same time, it wasn’t to where it was life or death.
I tried to stay away from drugs as much as possible. I’m being completely honest. I did smoke weed when I was younger as a teenager, but I didn’t do it while I was working. It was my escape after everything was done.
You know, and I’m not a drinker. So alcohol wasn’t a thing for me. Now it’s a glass of wine maybe, but then I just couldn’t do it.
August: You wanted the clearness of mind.
August: So when you left California with the $200 from that angel nurse, what was it like to move on from that?
Tika: Well, i, I still wasn’t out. To be completely honest, I was out of being exploited by someone. The whole having a pimp situation or scenario was done for some reason I felt empowered because now I was able to do sex work on my own.
August: It was your choice.
Tika: It was my choice.
August: And no one was abusing you to do it.
Tika: Yes. But at the same time, it still gave me the empty feeling, but I, it was more of survival than anything else at that point in time. Mm.
Survival sex work is what it sounds like – providing sexual services for pay —- for money or shelter or food — out of a need to survive. It seems like and may be, your only option. It’s very different from doing sex work because it’s what you truly want to do or find fulfilling. The survival type is what Tika’s livelihood consisted of for the next 5 years, until she was 23.
Tika: And it wasn’t until I was in a relationship with a man and he had three children and he started to let me understand what I was doing to myself. He never told me that he wanted me to stop and I I didn’t meet him in that in that realm, but he didn’t tell me to stop, but he was just telling me like, you know, I have a daughter. If you wanna be a part of her life, you have to do more for yourself.
August: Hmm. He knew that it wasn’t something that was coming from an authentic place. Right. It was, it was derived from the abuse.
August: Because you are development into a young woman was so influenced when we’re just trying to get to know our bodies and our we’re changing.
August: All of that got mixed up into this grown up abusive.
Tika: Yeah. And it actually started earlier than 12. I was first sexually molested at six years old. So my life has been sexualized. At that point I thought that this was something that women have to be subjected to at one point in time.
You know, it just so happens that my situation was a little extreme, but I’m a woman. I have boobs, I have hips. So sex is a part of it.
That right there is at the root of so many problems and traumas. Research shows that within just one year, grade school-age kids in the U.S. take in as many as 80,000 “sexy girl” portrayals by watching kid-targeted TV shows.
And that girls then aspire to look like those images. Meanwhile kids of all genders perceive that sexualized females are also less worthy of respect or support. The residual effects of that are too massive to list now, but I’m sure you can imagine. Especially when paired with generational trauma and cycles of abuse.
That’s one reason that Tika’s growth and advocacy are so important.
August: So when this partner of yours shed light on self-care and it sounds like you really introspectively thought about that.
August: How did that affect you and, and what changed did you begin to make?
Tika: Well, we started to just make plans. We just started to move forward. What are we gonna do? It was just like, okay, well, the amount of money that I was making before, it’s not gonna be the same. So, you know, we need to come up with a plan.
I humbled myself and got a regular nine to five job. And then I got an opportunity to start a business. And I had a detail business with my ex and that’s when the empowerment came. You know, because of his hard work, and my business sense.
And I tell all of my, my ladies that are in the life, or that have gotten out the life, if you can sell yourself, you can sell anything. You are a business woman off the bat. And so for me, because I knew how to talk to people. I understood in order to get what I want. I have to give a little, and even as bad as it sounds in the life, you can transfer all of those. I don’t wanna call them skills. I’m trying to find a better word, but for a lack of better word skills.
August: Yeah, yeah.
Tika: Into regular business. And from there, it was just like I said, empowering.
August: Ah, yeah.
Was there a moment or a time that it really hit you that whoa, this really is my better life. Like I’ve, I’ve turned things around.
Tika: I was with my ex for over 10 years and it wasn’t until the relationship was over. And I had lived in Chicago for 15 years, and then I moved back to California.
About four years ago. Now it wasn’t until I was back in California. The business was over and done with, we had to dissolve everything and I was homeless. And, I was mentoring so I was making a little bit of money. I only had enough money to rent outta storage unit, pay my cell phone bill, buy me a, a bus pass for a month and able to feed myself.
And I was sleeping on the beach. [ocean + bird sounds] I would basically go to Starbucks, charge up all my devices, go to Santa Monica pier, which they have internet. They have wifi at the beach, FYI.
August: I didn’t know.
Tika: Yes. And I would sit there all night until the sun came up and then I would go into the middle of the beach and I would sleep because there were people around. I had already had survival, you know, skills from being a child. So I was able to use those things as an adult. And when I looked up and I said, I have not sold myself so I can be able to have a roof over my head so I can have more money in my pocket. That was the moment for me when I was just. I’m okay.
August: (ocean sounds – then music to cover AC ) That is so profound that your I’m okay. Moment came homeless.
August: With no place to call home. No, you were taking care of yourself and it was what had changed inside.
Tika: totally humbled myself. Yeah. And I, I tell a lot of women that I work with or that I come across. I let them know. It’s not until you totally humble yourself when you know that you’re out of the life.
August: Mm. Yeah.
Today, Tika continues to mentor others. And her position brought what Oprah would call a “full circle moment.”
Tika: I had met a woman and I told her my last story and that’s when I recognized that I was a survivor of human trafficking.
And from there, she was just like, oh, well do these trainings. So I went through all these trainings and learned as much as I could. I was kind of obsessed with everything. And she was just like, okay, well, there’s a group home that’s looking for a survivor to co-facilitate their CSAC, which is Commercially, Sexually Exploited Children.
And they talk about human trafficking. They talk about the warning sizes, the pitfalls of being in the life. I went into the interview and I, I spoke with the lady and after we had the interview and she was like, was there any you other questions? I was just like where is this located?
You know, like, is there any like landmarks or anything special around this area? And then she was telling me, she was like, “yeah, it’s, it’s over here. And it’s in this city.” And I was just like, “wait a minute. So are the names of the different dorms, like of trees?” And she was like, “yeah.” And I was like, “wait a minute. I was there.”
And she was like, “what do you mean?” I was like, probably about 20 years ago, I was a client at this very same group home,
Tika: Yeah. So it was just
once I went to the group home, it was amazing. I slept in these beds. I ate at these tables. I was here at this very place when I was in the life for one. And when I was that lost child. And then for me to come back and talk to these girls and tell these girls my testimony and let them know, “yes, it may seem hard right now, but you can make it.
I am no one special, you know, my story is not special. If you listen to what I’m saying to you and what these staff are telling you and the curriculum that they have, you can be 10 times further than where I am today, because they didn’t have this type of curriculum when I was there.
August: You didn’t have that role model to look to.
August: If you had, have you thought about that? If Atika came in and said, “Hey, there’s a future for you.”
Tika: oh gosh, I probably would be a doctor , I would have you know, a huge house on the hill and properties everywhere and you know, I probably have it all, but at the same time, I always think of the downfall. I wouldn’t have purpose in my life.
My pain brought me my purpose. Yeah.
Tika was homeless when she started that mentoring position, living on the beach between bouts of couch surfing. Then a family member invited her to stay with them for about six months.
Tika: And then from there, my mentor had me going to more trainings and I started to be more a part of the fight, you know?
What I love to say is that I went from a victim and then I became a survivor and now I’m a warrior. You know, now I’m a warrior against the fight. I’m here for the other women. I’m here to understand, not to judge… I’m here to be that person in their lives. I’m here to be that Tika I wish I had.
Tika also helped me weigh in for a listener, Jeff, who’d written in. Jeff told me that his girlfriend has a history of sexual abuse. And because of that, they had agreed to avoid sex.
They were about one year into their relationship then, and Jeff’s girlfriend wanted to start bringing mutual masturbation in. But when they tried that, Jeff ended up with performance anxiety — in other words, he couldn’t seem to get it up. And he basically wanted to know ways to support his girlfriend in this new phase of their sexual relationship.
Dr. Megan Fleming and I shared thoughts for Jeff, which you can find on Patreon if you’re interested. Today I want to share Tika’s insights for Jeff, because they tie into her own story in important ways.
August: Tika, I wonder if you could speak a bit to rebuilding a sense of trust and, you know, allowing yourselves to be intimate and to feel safe, because as you mentioned, there was this history where that was not your own. And I know that you also work with a lot of people who experience these things. So what are some of the things that can be helpful?
Tika: Well, Jeff, I just wanna say. you’re an awesome, awesome guy. And maybe if you assist her in what she’s doing, you know, saying some sexy words to her, touching her, kissing her, kissing on her while she’s doing her thing, I’m pretty sure that that might help you as well.
August: I love that idea.
Tika: Yeah. And it’s just, I, I understand being a survivor of sexual assault, it’s hard for you to trust. Trust has to be there before anything else before the intimacy can actually be there. Well, you have this two different sides of the spectrum.
You have someone who is scared to open up and be sexual. Then you have someone that’s overly sexual. And I was on the side of being overly sexual because I always felt, you know, especially when I was younger, that sex equals love. You know, those lines were very blurred for me. So when I, it, it took for me to feel an emptiness.
And finding out that I wasn’t getting everything that I wanted in a relationship. Yes, the sex is great, but he’s not giving me any time. He’s not giving me any attention. He’s not giving me understanding. So once I was able to break down and put everything on a scale and say, yeah, sex is great, but he is a jerk, you know?
And it was just like, it wasn’t working for me. Once I broke up with my ex, I had to take a step back and I really looked at my life and I really was just like, okay, there’s something missing. I need to humble myself completely. Even in that way, as far as my financial part, I had to humble myself. But then also in the list of what I needed in a man, because my list was very, very shallow.
It’s very superficial. You know, most women, we want him to be fine, good looking, you know, we want him to have money and we want him to be a rock star in bed. For young girls, for young women, that is the standard.
August: Oh, we’ve been taught to find sexy. Right?
Tika: Exactly. But, what I had to learn was that I need a compassionate man. I need an empathetic man. I need an understanding man. I need someone that’s going to love me as much as I love them. Someone that’s going to, to see me for who I am and not for what I can do.
Once I was able to heal myself and find my own value, I was able to change my list. And it’s, it’s beautiful because now I have someone in my life that is that new list for me. He makes me feel like I’m everything and I have never had that feeling ever in my life. And it’s just like, I must have finally did something right in my life to actually have this type of love in my life that I didn’t think that I was worthy of.
August: Or many, many, many right things. You’re such a thriver. So beautiful. And I’m so happy for you and for your partner. Who has a total warrior, warrior queen of a partner.
August: Amazing queen of a partner.
Tika: Super supportive. He’s wonderful.
August: That is so great.
If you were to give, when you are to give, your next TED Talk, what would the topic be?
Tika: Oh gosh. So I guess I shared such a big part of my life. There are smaller pieces of my life that led me up to that point. I talk a lot about generational trauma. So that is something that people really need to understand. Because it goes along with identity. I had this huge identity crisis growing up because I was Black and poor, living in the Jungles of Los Angeles, California. But I went to school in Pacific Palisades. And I have hate for myself. I have this, why did I have to be Black and poor?
Because she learned from early on that…
Tika: Black is bad. Everything, you know, on the media, being Black was terrible. You know, we’re monsters and we’re not good enough.
And that’s just what the media told me growing up. So I hated being Black for a very long time. It wasn’t until I started to learn more about who I am, more about my people, then I started to regain pride in myself. Cause you have to understand this: if I was to ask you, where are you from?
You could tell, you know, I’m Irish, you know, I’m German, I’m Dutch, my family came from here. Yeah. But when you ask a Black person, where are you from? “Well, my grandma from Louisiana. My grandpa from Ohio.” That’s as far as we can go. So in order to have pride in self, you need to know who you are.
So that’s something that I would love to talk about, generational trauma along with, identity of. You know, personally the identity of a Black woman in America.
August: Yeah. That would be powerful. And if you were to have the nurse who helped you along that day, sitting right here, what might you say to her?
Tika: Gosh, thank you for saving my life, you know, cuz I could just imagine, I could just imagine what had happened if I would’ve stayed in California and if he would’ve found me, you know, I can’t remember your name, but I’ll never forget your face and I’ll never forget the words that you told me. And I just never forget what you did for me.
I hope you’re well, and I hope that you get everything, everything want in life because you deserve it in so much more
August: Beautiful. And as do you, and what an example of the difference one person can make
August: In that nurse and in you. How many lives you are changing, how many lives you are saving. You may never even know.
Tika: Yeah. [sigh] And like I said, because of the work that I do and because of the outcome and because of the many women that have contacted me, that have disclosed something that they’ve never told anyone else.
When everything came to light and I was able to shed the shame and tell everyone that this was my life and this was my story, so many women have come out and said, “you know what? I would never be able to tell anyone this, but I’m going to talk to you about it.”
And young girls that said, you know, “it happened to me, but I’m not gonna let this be my complete story. I’m going to shake it off now and move forward,” you know, or a young girl saying, “you know, what a guy was talking to me. And I didn’t talk to him, but it just felt weird. What should I do?” And then I start telling them, because you can’t tell a teenager what not to do, all you can do is just tell them the different outcomes or consequences of certain actions. Then for the girl to call, call me back or to contact me again and say, you know what? I found out that he pimped out two other girls and I dodged a bullet. Thank you so much for helping me out.
So I feel like a higher power – God, or whatever you wanna call it – knew that I was strong enough to handle this, knew that I was going to gain knowledge from this and I will be able to use it to help someone else.
So, like I said, everything I went through was hard. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, but at the same time I can get through it. I’m strong enough for it and I can help other people through it. So it was worth it.
August: Thank you, Tika. And thank you for making the world a better place.
Tika: Thank you.
[encouraging, acoustic music]
Find links to resources for learning more about sex trafficking or getting the support you need – and Tika’s moving TEDx talk […below].
Thanks so much for listening.
Learn more + get support:
Human trafficking resource guide
Domestic Violence Support + hotline: 800.799.SAFE (7233)
This episode was supported by Athletic Greens. I added AG1 to a smoothie today, with almond milk, banana, and peanut butter – and it was DELICIOUS. And I love knowing that I got a range of vitamins, minerals, probiotics and more — sourced from whole foods. Plus, it’s designed to promote daytime alertness and sleep quality.
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