My life in general has been full of winding, twisted roads and journeys people would never imagine. Like most trafficking victims, my abuse started early in life. Unlike most, I managed to survive.
As part of that mere 2% of victims who do make it through, I found that the biggest key to my recovery was actually creativity. At first it started with writing. I wrote a book. Then I wrote another. But then I wrote another. It started out slowly, with only telling of a few months of my life, and then it began to expand. I never imagined it would be something that other people would want to know more about but that’s exactly what happened. I’ve been able to publish six different books at this point and I couldn’t be more grateful to those who have encouraged me along the way to keep writing and keep creating.
Only one of those books of the six is fiction. Everything else tells about different parts of my life. Being able to put it down in writing has given me the opportunity to analyze it, understand it, and finally let it go. The full story of my entire struggle with human trafficking will be released on June 19 of this year, my 10 year anniversary of freedom. I couldn’t be more proud.
Only recently did I finally start therapy and rediscovering my love of painting. I’ve been able to paint some of my more fond memories or some of my more scary moments. Most recently I painted a near-death experience that I had over 20 years ago. Being able to show what is inside of me has somehow grounded me and made me feel more human. I no longer feel like the outward appearance I project is the only thing I have of any importance, which is exactly what most trafficking survivors feel for a long time.
Many of us go through depression, or we gain weight in order to make ourselves less attractive to the opposite sex. I am no stranger to these. Creativity has given me a healthy way of coping with and understanding my own emotions in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
It was also really important to find a community of understanding. My mother still wants to claim that the abuse and trafficking never happened to me so I have no family to turn to. No blood family. Instead, I have my best friend Collette and her entire family. But I also discovered this fantastic group here in Colorado called “Covered” that works with trafficking survivors. They keep us safe, give us a sense of community, support us, encourage us, and help us when we need it most. Without them, I don’t know where I would be.
I don’t know if I can fairly call it a “rebuild“ of my life since I wasn’t really ever given the chance to have a life of my own before all this happened. Instead of rebuilding it, I created it. I created a life where I had nearly been snuffed out. I learned how to deal with things I’ve never dealt with before. I understood for once that the mistakes of the past we’re not mine for the blame. I didn’t rebuild my life, I created it.
Amanda Blackwood is an author and a survivor of human trafficking. A portion of every book sale goes to help fight human trafficking and to help rescue the kids still trapped in a life worse than death. Amanda lives in Denver, CO with her rescue cats who keep her sane.
At the age of 18, Amanda’s life took a drastic turn down a very dark path. Her first admitted brush with human trafficking is outlined in the book “Detailed Pieces of a Shattered Dream” and is not for the faint of heart. When she escaped, she didn’t go back for the other girls whose screams haunt her dreams even now. For many years she wondered where they were and even if they survived their captivity. The next time, she was trafficked by someone she had known for seven years before the abuse began. That book will be published in June 2021. Through her words, Amanda is determined to keep fighting human trafficking. Amanda promises she’ll never stop fighting until she finds the girls she left behind. There’s a good chance that means she’ll never stop.