Written by Sex Trafficking Survivor & Advocate Jennelle Gordon
The last dance, the time I thought would never come. The last time I let myself be abused, objectified, bought and sold all for my traffickers gain. The last time I ever wore six inch heels- lustfully dancing for a man, for his sheer pleasure and my excruciating pain.
This is a brief excerpt of my story of slavery, faith, freedom, healing, transformation and my mission to empower other women to do the same.
I was stolen. My faith in myself squelched, my love for myself hidden, and fear ruled my life. After suffering many traumas and being a ward of the state as a child, my traffickers found this vulnerability and pounced away at breaking me down to their weak subservient victim. If you have ever felt vulnerable, weak, uncertain, trapped, guilty, abused, oppressed or ashamed then this true story is for you.
Vegas is all neon lights, glamour and glitz but few grasp the magnitude of the devastating problem of human trafficking in this opulent City of SIn. This is the main place my years of trafficking occurred, although there were other states and traffickers as well. Many inquire how this transpires, how does one go from college student to sex trafficking victim? The answer is simple- it’s science. It’s the science of knowing what a young girl is deficient in and then supplying that very need she is missing. My trafficker happened to be a mastermind, played into my insecurities, and in a short time I was working around the clock for months and years on end without a day off. The exotic dance clubs became brick and mortar for my product- me. I was selling the most lucrative product of all time- sex. The price was high and the stakes higher.
My years of captivity led to severe physical, emotional and mental abuse. I suffered numerous beatings, strangulation, concussions, teeth loss, and these are just the minor physical implications. A loaded gun to my head was a normality, things that most people only see in an action packed movie became my everyday life. The worst trauma I recall was being thrown down a flight of stairs after being repeatedly punched in the face by a linebacker body builder, then strangled until I passed out, to which I awoke to more beatings and being thrown into the car window. After years of enduring this abuse, the emotional trauma followed in the form of IBS, severe anxiety, depression, panic attacks and the inability to sleep.
There comes a moment in your life when your life blueprint catches up to your reality and the awakening that they aren’t the same overrides the fear of your current life circumstances, or the change that would follow. That moment finally occurred for me and I knew I couldn’t be held hostage to my fear of my trafficker any longer. The doctors informed me I could die with another concussion and I knew he would end up killing me if I didn’t escape. Most victims never can escape and end up a statistic..
I would love to say I escaped my trafficker and my life was a fairytale afterwards but that would be a lie and after living a lie for ten years, I only live the truth now. Truth be told, once liberated from my trafficker the road back to reality and integration into society was paved with turmoil. I didn’t have a support system, as I was estranged from family and the more I resisted the life I was trafficked in, the more I found myself home in that very life. It truly was my unwavering faith in God that allowed me the grace to find healing.
The healing came in the form of yoga, holistic nutrition, and Tantra which focused me into the reconnecting with my sensuality and spirituality. I became certified in everything I mentioned and started my healing journey, quickly realizing the reason for living is giving and all the trauma I had experienced had a purpose. With this realization, I was inspired to form Dance Om, my own unique concept for women’s healing and empowerment. It combines the healing aspects of yoga, energy, various forms of dance with world music to take women on an exotic dance journey to their sacred, sensual, spiritual Self.
My almost three year old son was another aspect of that healing, as I chose to have a completely unmedicated birth, and move to Orange County to raise him as a single mother reintegrating back into society after being trafficked for nearly ten years, this was a huge feat. Today you can find me speaking out publicly on my experience as a human trafficking survivor and advocating for those still imprisoned who have no voice to do so. My latest venture is the non profit club I started at my college campus called Beyond Freedom. This group of students creates awareness about human trafficking not only on campus but in the community. Our main aspiration is to fund survivors education as this has been a tool in me regaining my power in life. After thirteen years out of school I returned to not only become an honor student but to become a leader on campus, lecturing for various professors and offering a message of connection to my peers through yoga and mindfulness. A highlight was when Tony Robbins reached out to me after hearing my story and personally invited me to his conference as his guest.
The most important lesson I have learned in my life is that healing is not a project to be completed at a certain date but rather a timeless journey. My journey is to inspire other women who’ve suffered traumas, that they too can overcome and be outstanding in life. My mission is to educate, empower and enlighten women to have a voice, to be bold, to be connected, to be passionate, to be prosperous, and to live life in a state of wonder- because this life is a dance of what we most desire and fear. For me, while living in captivity, fear consumed my life but the desire to be free and happy finally won in the end. I remember promising myself that once set free from my life of exotic dancing it would be my last dance, however the new healing modality I created- Dance Om, has me dancing for an entirely different purpose.
Connect with Jennelle through her Instagram- @jennelle_gordon