17-year-old girl rescued from sexual exploitation in US begins her recovery

A 17-year-old girl with a mental health condition who was trafficked into sexual exploitation has been reunited with her family, thanks to Hope for Justice’s US team.

Shannon* stopped taking her medication, and ran away from home to another city in the Southern United States. But when she arrived, she had no option but to live on the streets. She was then approached by a trafficker who promised her somewhere safe to stay, before forcing her into sexual exploitation.

One of our US team spotted reports that Shannon was missing on social media, so after engaging with local law enforcement, our team sprang into action. For around a week and a half, we searched homeless shelters and camps, hotels and bus stations. We also created and distributed ‘missing person’ posters.

Then a man who had seen one of our posters raised the alarm, after recognizing Shannon in a bus station. Our team collected her, and took her to the hospital for treatment for trauma and injuries she had as a result of being sexually exploited. We reunited her with her relieved parents, who had not heard from her for four weeks. We also worked with the family to help them understand the risks posed to young people who run away from home.

Shannon is now living at home, recovering from her ordeal and beginning to feel positive about the future. She is helping us with our investigation to find the trafficker and ensure he faces justice. We will continue to support Shannon as she rebuilds her life.

*Name and photo have been changed to protect the identity of the survivor