3rd annual Anti-Human Trafficking Conference
Published Friday, September 28, 2018 12:29PM EDT
The 3rd annual Anti-Human Trafficking Conference was held this week in Sault Ste. Marie.
It is an event is used to educate social workers, police and others about warning signs and ways to help victims.
And survivors, such as Jessica Desmond-Solomon,are also speaking out.
She says the nightmare began in 2008, when she was just 18.
“I went to jail one day and I met this girl in there, and she says ‘do you want to come to Toronto and hang out and that and I have someone really nice that you can meet and he'll really like you’." said Desmond-Solomon.
She says she was living in poverty, in Garden River First Nation, so she went to the big city. Once there, she was quickly pulled into the life of a sex worker.
Desmond-Solomon says the breaking point came when the man she loved, her pimp, cut her Achilles tendon when she attempted an escape.
"I had had it and I couldn't live with myself letting him run the streets freely preying on other women. I know he shot another woman in the back, and like this guy needs to be locked up and I'm going to have to be the one to do it. The torture that he put me through, the beatings and that, I was like I don't want to stay in this. But I was in love with him and it was so hard to leave." said Desmond-Solomon.
She says that man is now doing 13 years in jail because of the courage she showed.
The 28-year-old says while it's still difficult to share the stories of her six years under his control, it's important, so other women can avoid being a victim.
Those organizing the conference agree that putting a face to a story helps women realize it could happen to anyone.
“It's not what you expect your trafficker to look like. That was her boyfriend. So you don't expect your boyfriend to exploit you." said Eva Dabutch, an anti-human trafficking coordinator.
"I'm doing so good now. I have three beautiful children, I'm married. And I'm finally living the dream that I was sold, that that pimp sold me." said Desmond-Solomon.
The conference features more keynote speakers and sessions Friday, wrapping up with an awareness walk on Saturday.