Danielle Douglas, Survivor

 

The way Danielle Douglas escaped from her pimp was abnormal. She recounts her story to us after a free screening of the film Tricked.

"He bought me JayZ tickets to a concert and I was really excited about it. He told me I could go. Than he took them back. ' That night he tells me her was expecting her to make more money and since she didn't, he rips the tickets up and throws them away. 

Traffickers and pimps are known to play on the emotions of these young girls. According to the Polaris Project, 51.42% of traffickers use romantic interests, posting as a significant other and preying on vulnerable girls looking to be loved. 

After that Douglas says she 'never got excited, never got upset, never got angry, never got anything.' She knew if she did it would get it thrown right back at her. Traffickers will manipulate and play on anything they can. Any kind of emotion you show, they manipulate it to what they want it to be or what they want to hear.

One day she had a supervised phone call with her mom who told her she was going on vacation to Buffalo, NY to visit family and friends. After hanging up, her pimp asked her if she wanted to go. In her head she was thinking,  say no, he just feels like beating you up, because from prior experience he would accuse her of loving him less, followed by abuse.

Her head say no, but her heart said yes. She figured he was going to beat her anyways. He allowed her to make a second call to her mom who purchased a plane ticket. She didn't ask any questions. She figured the same thing that had happened to those JayZ tickets would happen to her plane ticket.

But it didn't.

"I was on the plane. And than I was off. That was pretty odd, but to tell you the truth the only reason why he let me do that is because he was extremely cocky. He absolutely thought I was going to come right back. He was so sure of it that he let me go."

Douglas says three things happened beyond her control that she attributes to saving her life:

1. It snowed six feet of snow in Buffalo and there was a real state of emergency. Instead of one week she was given two. This gave her the mental and emotional time that she really needed.

2. Her family treated her like everything had been 100% normal. Danielle cracks jokes about how her mom is a jewish mother, and for her to act normal when she is freaking out or is worried because she hasn't really seen her in two years; to this day she doesn't know how she did it. 

Douglass says 'If she had eagle eyed me or asked me 21 questions, those walls would have never come down. I would have gone right back like a zombie to him. My normal thought process started coming back to me and lowering my defence mechanisms and making sense of what was going on. '

 3. Once she realized how badly she needed to stay, she had a home to go to. Most victims of human trafficking do not have this support. Her mom welcomed her with open arms,  and that saved her life.

Douglass continues to educate others and tell her trafficking story. She is an incredible advocate and leader in this work.  I'm personally really looking forward to staying in touch with Danielle who gave me a big hug after the screening and thanked me for coming. She'll be helping me in my thesis work and lending feedback on some of the projects we hope to create along the way. It my mind, she is a superstar.