I am a survivor of sex trafficking, and it happened to me in Kittery, Maine 37 years ago. Back then we didnít know anything about exploitation, and so it wasnít until I came home after a lot of years, pretty much in hiding, that I learned about human trafficking through my church.

I was raped at 14 by (a neighbor) who was considerably older than me. When I got pregnant by him, he used my daughter as leverage to keep me under his control and his threat was that, you know, harm would come to her if I tried to escape or if I didnít do what they wanted me to do. So, I was trafficked all over the country for three years.

When I finally escaped I never wanted to come back because, my initial trafficker was my daughterís father. So when I finally came home, I met Alison (a pastor), she helped me start working on those childhood issues. And when she heard my story, I described it as prostitution. Because they fool you into thinking that it was all your choice.

For so long, I thought that I was just a messed up human being. When I learned that there was a name and that nobody really chooses this, I started writing my story. And nine months after I discovered I was trafficked, I went public with my story at my church.

It was resourcefulness that allowed me to survive for as long as I have, and I consider myself a resource for other survivors. I donít have any other choice. If somebody doesnít do something about this it just leaves it a senseless crime, and I am not OK with that. I donít want to see women floundering or walking through life like a zombie. Not getting healing. Not understanding the truth of what happened to them.

Cheri Dawn Crider, 54, of Durham is a survivor of human trafficking.

CourageSpeaks is a collaborative movement that uses photography and storytelling to empower survivors and their communities to raise their voices against violence. It is a partnership of Haven, the YWCA of greater Manchester, and Seacoast Media Groupís award-winning photographer Deb Cram. Write to Couragespeaksnh@gmail.com or find it on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CourageSpeaksNH.

If you need help: Haven has trained confidential advocates available 24-hours a day through its hotline: (603) 994-SAFE (7233). Walk-in services are offered Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 20 International Drive, Suite 300 at Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth, and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 150 Wakefield St., Rochester. Haven is the violence prevention and support services crisis center for domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, serving southeastern New Hampshire.