'Born in Arizona, trafficked in Arizona': Victims share their stories of survival

Two survivors talk about their experience being trafficked, rescued and recovery.

Human trafficking is one of the most under-reported crimes but it affects every state and every city in America.

Like many trafficking victims, problems started for Savannah Sanders in her own home.

“I was born in Arizona and I was trafficked in Arizona,” said Sanders, who now works as a social worker. “I had a long history of abuse starting at the age of six and that just kind of snowballed throughout my life.” 

At 16 years old she met a man in a club who had a wife and four children of his own.

“He told me I was going to work for him and at that point I just didn’t have any fight left,” said Sanders. 

After nine months of working out of a massage parlor, she was able to leave. 

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, from January 2017 to June 2017 there were more than 600 cases being investigated in Arizona alone. Most were U.S. citizens and there were predominately more women than men being trafficked. 

“I work with lots of youth in central Arizona who’s stories look just like mine,” said Shanna Parker, CEO of Angels Go to Work, an organization devoted to ending human trafficking. 

Parker also had a rough childhood. She left home at 13 years old and, like many other runaways, met her first trafficker within 72 hours.

“I was trafficked for four years,” said Parker. “I’d like to say I was rescued and the Calvary came in, but that’s not the case.” 

It was murder that eventually got Parker away from her trafficker. 

“It was actually the murder of a sister victim, we call them sister wives, that resulted in a murder trial and that’s what ended my situation,” she said. 

Both Parker and Sanders ended up going back to school, getting degrees and setting out to help those who needed it most. 

“I do what I love which is helping other people,” said Sanders. 

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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