The Day Training Saved Her Life
It was much too early on a Thursday morning to be required to sit through another training. Melinda was a nurse at a rural town’s Emergency Department (ED), she had been there for 10 years and these in-service trainings always seemed like a bit of a waste of time, especially after a long night at work. She poured herself a cup of burnt hospital coffee and claimed a chair in the back row.
The morning’s training was on human trafficking, she had seen a few documentaries on Netflix about trafficking overseas but had never heard of it happening in her small town; which made the fact that she had to sit through an hour and a half of this worse.
Melinda had done her best to tune out the trainer but some of the stats he shared were too shocking to ignore. The average age of entry into the sex trade is 15 years old… she has a twelve-year-old at home. The more the trainer talked the more she began to think her perception of what sex trafficking was might be a little off. She was stunned when he shared real life examples from the next town over from her supposed “safe little community”.
When the trainer dove into the indicators and how to talk to a patient if she suspected trafficking, she only half paid attention. She had been in the ED for 10 years and was confident she had never seen a trafficking victim.
Two Weeks Later
It was a rainy night as Melinda walked into the ED for the start of her third night shift in a row. She was a bit tired and secretly hoped for a slow night. Saying something about hoping the night was slow out loud was a surefire way to jinx their department into being slammed, so she kept her wish to herself. Near 2:00 in the morning they received notice that an ambulance was on the way with a young girl that had been involved in a car accident.
Lydia showed up in pretty bad shape; she was in shock, bruised and clearly shaken up. Lydia was placed on a 24-hour hold because of the injuries she had sustained. After her initial triage was over and things began to calm down Melinda started asking her questions about the accident.
That Gut Feeling
As the night rolled into morning Melinda couldn’t quite wrap her head around what exactly had happened to Lydia prior to the car accident, but her gut was telling her there was much more going on than just the accident. Her story was inconsistent, she would become hostile when asked certain questions, she was terrified of the male doctor that was on shift that night and she had injuries that didn’t fit the type of car accident she had been in. She started to think back to that human trafficking training, deep down she wished she had paid a little closer attention to the indicators.
As her shift came to an end Melinda felt uneasy about leaving Lydia in the hands of another nurse so she called in the hospital’s social worker, Jessica, for another set of eyes and another warm face Lydia could feel safe around. Melinda voiced her thoughts and concerns to Jessica and together they began to question if maybe Lydia was in fact a victim of human trafficking.
Truth Comes Out
Throughout the next day and conversations with Jessica, Lydia’s story began to become a bit clearer. She had met a guy online and agreed to go on a date with him, he had picked her up and instead of driving to dinner like they planned he kept driving and driving. They ended up in another town about five hours away. Lydia had protested and begged to get out of the car, but he kept just promising her they were going to his favorite place and she’d love it. She had mixed feelings, he had seemed so nice in their online conversations and the daring nature of this first date had some element of excitement but the other side of her was in full panic mode, remembering everything her mother had said about strangers online. She was wishing she had driven herself to meet him somewhere.
Her panic turned to sheer terror when they reached this odd little hotel and he instantly turned cold as he told her to get out of the car. Throughout the following four days she would be raped multiple times by multiple different men. She wanted to die, but she wasn’t afraid he’d kill her because after each guy was finished with her, they’d hand him some money. He was profiting off of her.
The accident had been lucky, he was driving to a new spot and he had become angry at her for crying the whole drive. When he reached over to slap her, he took his eyes off the road and didn’t see the deer on the highway, when he swerved the car had gone off the side of the road and hit a tree.
Melinda was relieved to see Lydia hadn’t been discharged yet when she returned for her shift, she was also relieved to see that the cops were there talking to her. Jessica shared what she had learned throughout the day and the response that had been put into place.
Police were looking throughout the state for the guy responsible for trafficking Lydia, he hadn’t been injured during the accident and had refused medical attention. At this point he could be anywhere.
Lydia’s family was headed to pick her up and take her home.
Most of us, like Melinda, don’t ever believe we will be the one to see a human trafficking victim. We also prefer to live in a world where this kind of horrible thing doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and the defensive team at Guardian Group strives to prepare communities to recognize, respond and report potential trafficking situations.
You can support these vital trainings in one of two ways:
- Donate – we provide training to LE and first responders for free!
- Advocate for Training – if you work in a space that you believe would benefit from a training, speak with your organization and advocate for them to host a training. You can contact Guardian Group for more information here.
Victims of trafficking feel invisible in broad daylight, training helps to make them visible again. Training can save a life!