I grew up in poverty, living in the Bottoms on the Westside of Columbus. Both my mother and step-dad were alcoholics and addicts. The smell of marijuana and empty beer bottles on the table was the norm in my home. I can’t remember ever having a real schedule in my home; it was very dysfunctional and unpredictable. Education was one of the many fatalities of this war of life I lived. I got into drugs at an early age, and my mother signed papers for me to drop out of school. I guess you could say my upbringing was training for the life of human trafficking that would eventually choose me for its dirty deeds. I was a young girl with no true direction in my life, with no positive role models to help me find my way. Looking back, I see what my human traffickers must have seen when they coerced me into that life – easy prey.
At Freedom a la Cart we are inspired every day by our employees. It’s a privilege to be a part of their journeys of healing, independence and self-sufficiency. Stephanie, a CATCH Court graduate and Freedom employee, has graciously volunteered to share a little bit about her experiences as a survivor of human trafficking and her work with Freedom. Here is her story:
Imagine walking into a pastry shop and becoming overwhelmed with all the delectable looking treats and enticing smells. You wander over to the cakes and cookies and your mouth starts to water, then you gaze upon the eclairs and you can barely hold yourself back. Finally, you come across something that you just cannot pass up: macaroons.
A Note from Keturah Lee Schroder
I began my journey fighting human trafficking in Columbus as the Director of Communications and Volunteer Coordinator at Freedom (formerly Doma International). After writing a few grants, I was promoted to Director of Development and Communications and several months later, was again promoted to Managing Director.