While Sarah was being arrested for engaging in prostitution, the undercover officer told her, “If it wasn’t for us finding you, you would be dead.” Sarah was terrified, angry, and defensive. Due to her arrest and the ensuing stigma and shame, she lied to her family and friends, never telling them that she was arrested. She felt even more alone than ever. The diversion court sentenced her to six months of services from a community agency. While Sarah was thankful to be receiving services instead of jail time, she struggled to find a job because her sessions always seemed to interfere with her interviews and she didn’t even bother to complete applications with employers that required her to submit to a criminal record check. After two years of working with an advocate and being connected to an attorney, Sarah was able to file a motion to vacate the convictions for crimes she was forced to commit because of her trafficking situation. She now works full-time and lives independently.
*These are not actual photos of the survivors depicted in the story. In order to protect their confidentiality, alternate images and names have been applied.