Meet Erikka. She is so bright, she graduated from high school early, while caring for her mom with disabilities, and raising a young son. She started college dreaming of a thriving and meaningful career, however, as her mom's health deteriorated, she made the difficult decision to drop out of college and move to Texas to care for her. She met an attractive and caring man online, who offered her what seemed like a glamorous job in a nightclub. While working together, they began dating and he provided much needed emotional support and helped her make ends meet. Quickly though, she realized the nightclub required much more from her than she was comfortable with.
Now, with several vulnerabilities and a heavy reliance on this new boyfriend, it was an opportune time for him to capitalize on a clever plan he had been carefully executing with manipulation and deceit. He had been grooming her in order to exploit her emotional and financial insecurity. Her promising boyfriend soon became her trafficker, coercing Erikka to sell her body for his gain.
After an awful experience with a sex buyer, Erikka came to Unbound’s Underground drop-in center to find safety. At the Underground, she was able to shower, clean her clothes, and receive new clothes that were more dignifying. She ate a warm meal and enjoyed some much needed rest. “I didn't feel I had any worth until I came to this place. Your staff make me feel like I matter. I have never felt that before….but here ….it’s life changing!” she said.
The Underground team found her a safe long-term home and one of Unbound’s Survivor Advocates committed to walk with Erikka through her recovery for as long as it would take.
She lived in a healing and restorative placement for several months before returning home to her mom and son, now equipped with tools to process her complex trauma.
Today, Erikka lives back at home and cares for her mom and son. She works three jobs and started college again. She continues to stay in contact with her Unbound Advocate, who is committed to being a safe and consistent person in her life. With her determination and smarts, who knows what good she will do for the world. Godspeed Erikka.