Marguerite: A face of Domestic Human Trafficking

Marguerite was 18 when someone forcefully took control of her life. She had been dating a guy for a while, he was good to her and the relationship seemed to be going well. One day while she was driving and he was in the passenger seat, he punched her in the face. Between the pain and the shock she had trouble maintaining control of the car. Once she was able to pull over to the side of the road, he told her that if she ever tried to leave him, or ever didn't do what he said, that was the least of what he would do to her. This was just a taste of what she would get if she didn't obey him.

Soon Marguerite was forced to "work the track", which means she became a prostitute. The boyfriend was now also her pimp. This is called Gorilla pimping, when your boyfriend bullies you into prostituting for him by fear and threats. This is also called Human Trafficking. This is how MANY prostitutes that we see and hear about in America become prostitutes.

Marguerite became addicted to crack cocaine and started dealing it as well as prostituting for her boyfriend/pimp. Every day her life got worse and worse, she would try to run but he would find her, beat her and bring her back. She knew she had to get away from this guy. One night she ran to her grandfathers house down the road and asked him to call a rehab facility that she had been reading about. He did and off she went to rehab. Finally away from the boyfriend/pimp. Safe.

She didn't stay at the rehab very long, she wasn't quite ready to get clean, but she stayed their long enough for the boyfriend to be evicted from her house, and when she got out he was no where to be found.

Marguerite had learned a lot while working for her boyfriend/pimp, when she got out of rehab, she continued to prostitute on her own. Now she was calling the shots. She had her own apartment that she worked out of and she started to take in younger prostitutes who were homeless, she would let them stay with her, prostitute there and she took a cut of the money from each transaction. Marguerite was now a madam, a female pimp.

Eventually pimps she knew were calling her and asking her to take new girls and keep them at her apartment and they would pay her. But part of the deal was she couldn't let them leave, she had to make sure they didn't get away. The girls seemed scared and controlled by fear. Marguerite offered to help a few of them escape but they didn't trust her. Before long the pimps would come get the girls and move them to another location. These girls were being trafficked. Marguerite who was trafficked herself, was now helping pimps control and corrupt unwilling girls into a life in the sex trade industry.

Marguerite turned from men and started dating women and prostituting mostly with women. She also had a girl friend. One night Marguerite and her girlfriend were walking down the street and they saw her ex boyfriend/pimp that she had escaped from years earlier. He tried to beat Marguerite again but this time Marguerite wasn't going to let that happen. She beat him to the point that he ran off, afraid of her and badly beaten up. She realized that day that she was stronger then she thought, never again would a man control her.

Soon Marguerite was sent to prison for prostitution and drug dealing. She was in prison for 9 years total. Just before going to prison the second time, she had gotten pregnant. When it came time to deliver her baby she was taken to the charity hospital, hand cuffed to a bed, delivered her baby, then went back to prison and her baby went to live with her mother.Even after getting out of jail Marguerite went back to drugs and prostitution for many years. It was all she knew. She now had three children living with her mother and one with his father.

One night while working the track, she was kidnapped and violently raped. She thought for sure she would die. When she didn't, she somehow knew God had saved her and given her another chance. She could see that this life she was trapped in had taken it's tole on her body, her mind, her life and her heart. She was weary and lost.

After the  kidnapping/rape, she knew she had to get off the streets of New Orleans. She had a son that was now 15 years old whom she didn't have a relationship with, he had always lived with his father in Baton Rouge. She called her son's father and asked him if she could come stay with them. When she arrived she only had two set of clothes, nothing else. Her son's father told her about people in a white van, who wear red shirts and come around to help people. He said maybe they would be coming by and could get her some clothes. Sure enough, they came by the next day with snacks and information about the Dream Center. They gave her a hot line card, she called the number and soon she had clothes.

She started going to the woman's support group that was held at the Dream Center on Fridays, where she was able to shop in the free boutique, get a free lunch, have people pray with her and she also heard about God's love for her.  She started to believe there was a better life just within her grasp. She asked Jesus to take her life, was baptized and started living for God.

Before long her son's father went to prison for dealing drugs. It was now going to be just her and her son. But her son didn't take losing his dad to prison very well. He started hanging with a rough crowd and really acting out with his mother. Marguerite didn't really know how to handle a teen age boy.

One Sunday her son was caught smoking Pot in the church bathroom. Marguerite heard the pastor, Craig Boutte an a few leaders along with the security guy, discussing what should be done. As Marguerite heard the security guy insist that the police should be called, she knew right then that if they did call the police, she would take her son, run and never look back. She was not going to let them lock him up. She couldn't lose him now that they had found each other. Then she heard the pastor tell everyone that no, they were not going to call the police, instead they were going to work with him, get him in church, in the youth class, mentor him and try to help him through this rough time.

Marguerite later said that that day was when she knew she was with family. She felt the love in a very strong and life changing way. This church, the Baton Rouge Dream Center, was going to be their church home. She started to believe that the Dream Center wanted her and her son to be OK, and wanted them to know Jesus in a real way. She began to trust again.

A few ladies that attend services and volunteer at the Dream Center started to mentor Marguerite. One in particular, Kim Trahan, really took Marguerite under her wing and started pouring time into Marguerite's life. She helped her get into a rent house and organized a team to help paint and renovate the house. Now Kim spends time encouraging Marguerite, praying with her and helping her over life's hurdles.

Marguerite started to once again dream of a future. She started to believe there was a better life and now she had people believing with her. She decided she wanted to be a Chef and currently she has passed the first few test on her way to being one. She also got a job at a nice restaurant where she is learning and honing her cooking skills. She is in the process of getting her drivers license and she tithes faithfully. If you ask her why she has a great job, a cute house, and groceries, she will tell you it's because she tithes. She has seen and knows that you can't out give God.

Hollywood does a fair job of showing what international sex trafficking looks like, it's a hot topic today. But they still glorify and glamorize prostitution here in the U.S. The truth is most adult prostitutes were once girls who one day were forced to sell their bodies for sex. Marguerite found a way out by the grace of God but not until she was almost 40 years old, had been in prison for 9 years, lost her kids, had been raped, kidnapped, and addicted to drugs for half her life.

Marguerite has been in recovery and growing spiritually for almost two years now. She has a strong and commanding presence. Her smile lights up a room and her spirited personality makes being around her pure joy. She now appears before Anti-trafficking coalition meetings and she tells her story to law enforcement, churches and other organizations that are fighting human trafficking. Marguerite tells them about her life, how it all started with being forced into prostitution by a boyfriend. They get to see a true picture of what a lot of domestic human trafficking looks like. Sometimes it looks like a grown women who we think of as just a drug addict prostitute.
BRDC's First Lady, Hope Boutte, with Marguerite last Thanksgiving.
 
Here are a couple of organizations that are working to reach out to and rehabilitate the victims of human trafficking here in the U.S. 
 
Home Foundation  
Trafficking Hope

Comments

Betsy said…
Wow! Thanks for telling her story!
theJovan said…
Wow. I just got a shiver of joy at the generosity of the Lord. I can't believe how He loves us!! His redemption is the stuff of legends.

best,
~j. oliver brown