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Jean’s Story: From Foster Care to Trafficking

Hannah Policy

@justmehannahp


"Everything my dad told me would happen to keep me from telling on him turned out to be true." (Walters)


When Jean was only in her early teens, her father gave her a serious warning: if she ever told anyone about his years of sexually abusing and impregnating her, she would be taken by the child welfare system and never be able to see her daughter again. He promised that she would regret it forever.


At the age of 14, Jean finally reported her father. While he entered prison, she and her daughter were delivered to the Texas foster care system. Shortly after, Jean’s daughter was sent out of the state to be raised by other family members while Jean lived in several Dallas foster homes, a psychiatric hospital, and then a residential program.


At 15, when a friend in her facility offered her a way out of the system, Jean leaped at the opportunity to get out before the age of 18. She packed a backpack and ran, following directions to a small home in Southeast Dallas where she hoped to find food and a home. The house that she entered was owned by Jasmine Johnson – a female pimp.

Jasmine herself had suffered early childhood sexual abuse by a father figure in her home. She gained a strong reputation in Dallas for the way that she treated women and felt empowered by the “pimp” title. She was able to make more money than she ever had growing up by “spoiling” girls and convincing them to work for her. By her early twenties, Johnson had her target market figured out – the working class of Dallas – and a steady stream of girls, just like Jean, who needed a place to stay. (Walters, Sold Out Part 6: The Pimps)


Within a week, Jean was introduced into what seemed like a world of freedom that she had never experienced before. Away from the strict rules of school and foster care, she suddenly had full access to a cellphone, drugs, and alcohol. Jasmine made sure that Jean understood that these privileges would never come for free. Jean worked for Jasmine now.

With a brand-new look and a nickname, Jean was sent out onto the street each night as a prostitute and she was expected to return with payment for Jasmine. Any evening that the 15-year-old did not return with the right amount, she was brutally beat.


By 16, Jean was training other girls in Jasmine’s home. Speaking of the horrors of that home in comparison to foster care, Jean said, “I was willing to do whatever I needed to stay away (from foster care).” But later in her 16th year, she decided to run away from Jasmine’s abuse. (Walters)


Dallas law enforcement officers found her hitchhiking a few days later, and she was returned to foster care once more. Soon after, she was able to come back into the care of her mother and begin the road of drug recovery and reassimilating to society as an adult.

Jean’s story became public when Jasmine Johnson faced conviction. (Emily)

According to the research of writers Edgar Walters and Neena Satija, Jean’s story is not unique:


“Many young victims of sex trafficking in Texas get trapped in a cycle. They’re miserable in foster care so they run away to the streets, where they sell sex to survive. Then they run from that dangerous situation back to foster care. Many of them eventually have run-ins with law enforcement and end up in jail.” (Reveal News)


Statistical trends for both the state of Texas and the country show that an overwhelming majority of runaway children who become trafficked come to be trafficked after some previous experience with the child welfare system. These children have a great vulnerability that traffickers can and have exploited, such as in Jean’s case.

Bochy's Place is positioned to provide more beds for victims of sex trafficking. If you are searching for a way to help provide hope and healing to survivors of sex trafficking, or want to know more about our mission at Bochy’s Place visit our link, https://www.bochysplace.com/getinvolved.



References

Emily, Jennifer. "Dallas woman gets 25 years for child sex trafficking, compelling prostitution -- but authorities can't find her." 17 June 2013. The Dallas Morning News.

Reveal News. "No Place to Run (Rebroadcast)." 11 August 2018. Reveal.

Walters, Edgar. "Sold Out Part 6: The Pimps." 18 February 2017. Go San Angelo.

—. When foster care couldn't help this 16-year-old, she ran to a pimp. 14 February 2017.





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