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How A Victim of Trafficking Found Her Voice, And How You Can Too

My parents met in the circus and were looking to give my brother and me a more conservative/structured upbringing. It was at a time that homeschooling was still new and there were very few resources available. My parents found an organization (a cult) that had a curriculum and encouraged an ultra-conservative lifestyle. They joined and unknowingly joined, and raised us, in a cult called ATI or IBLP (Advanced Training Institute / Institute of Basic Life Principles). 

I was taught at a young age that my role on the earth was to serve my husband, put my own desires aside, and have as many children as possible. Though my parents’ intentions were good, when you act in fear over something you love, dysfunction is created, and that’s what happened. 

This did not serve me well as I grew up. Courting was our only option for romantic relationships and it was highly monitored. Matches were usually made by our parents. This gave me a very limited idea of what healthy romantic relationships should look like, and taught me that it was sinful to say no to a man’s desires. Fast forward, at the age of 23, I had just met my trafficker in California. He was to be my first adult relationship. He used my ignorance against me and ended up abusing me in every way possible.

Not only was he forcing me to have sex for profit with his inner circle and relatives that lived on the Native American reservation, but he was also labor trafficking me. He was my boxing coach and trained me to fight MMA. He arranged, managed, and profited off of all my fights, most of them against men and unsanctioned. 

One night, after 6 months of rape, physical and mental abuse, and fighting I was in a car accident. I suddenly had an opportunity to escape and I took it. I packed my things and my pitbull puppy and bought a plane ticket home. I cannot explain the fear and emotional turmoil of those few days as I tried to stay hidden. I flew back to Florida and started my life over, one day at a time.

I was taught at a young age that my role on the earth was to serve my husband, put my own desires aside, and have as many children as possible.

Knowing that I got a second chance at life that most victims don’t receive is a major motivating factor for me to keep growing. It’s for every person on my caseload that was murdered by their trafficker or didn’t make it. It’s for all the victims that are currently being abused. Someone has to fight for them. Why not me? Why not you?

Today, I own a content agency. We are passionate about helping others find their voice, craft their message, and share it effectively with the rest of the world. One of my biggest accomplishments is helping create federal legislation to fund training for teachers and first responders on how they can identify and assist trafficking victims. I have also counseled the New Zealand government on their laws surrounding prostitution and how to protect those being victimized.

How can women find their voice again?

This is a tool I taught myself through meditation, journaling, and listening to Ed Mylett and Andy Frisella.

1) FIND IT: Think back to when you were a kid. What were you titled as? For me, it was “obnoxious”, “annoying”, and “aggressive”. Write these things down, each on its own line.

2) UNCOVER IT: Take that label and reframe it into something positive. For me, those labels now look like “ambitious”, “loyal” and “passionate”. Write the positive version of those titles in-line, next to those negative words – canceling out their negative power, and embrace the positive titles.

3) UNLEASH IT: Practice using that positive label whenever you feel small, scared, or in over your head. In your mind’s eye, put on confidence like a jacket, slip on wisdom like your favorite pair of slacks. This is most important for when you feel the least bit like doing it. Embracing love in the midst of fear is the move of a true warrior. Give it a try and give yourself the opportunity to be great.

Finding and using your voice is what will make your brand unique. There’s only one of you on this planet and the world is waiting for you to speak.

WARNING: Things might get a little messy at first as you learn how to use your voice but there’s a lot of grace that comes when you communicate what’s going on to those around you. Create space for messes with a small statement like “I’m learning to use my voice in a powerful way and reframe old limiting labels. Thanks for understanding where I’m at”.

How do we, as women, work together to lift each other up?

By recognizing that there is no real competition between us. There are many other women writers out there but I don’t feel like I need to compete because they’re not me and don’t bring to the table what I do. This is also true the other way around. Once we truly see each other for the queens that we are, there is no jealousy or fear, only love, and empowerment.

If you think someone is being trafficked and you’re in public, please do not approach them – they can be severely punished for “attracting attention. It’s best to call 911 or if it’s suspicion and not a seemingly dire situation call the non-emergency number for your area and report what you saw. Most likely these individuals are on their radar already and they’re working to set up a sting operation to catch the trafficker. 

If you’re being trafficked, call Selah Freedom or the trafficking hotline. These are organizations that specialize in freeing individuals and prosecuting pimps and traffickers.


Amanda Catarzi

Connect with Amanda on Instagram here.

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