Her name is Kristy Childs and she wants you to know that she’s a survivor.
Her’s is a story often told but seldom heard. Only the names, dates, and locations change.
Fleeing an abusive home, Kristy was well into “the life” by age 12. Desperate for food, she did what she could — what she thought she had to do — to survive. At an age when most preteen girls are giddy about the latest fashion style or complaining of excessive homework, Kristy was doing all she could just to live.
Yes, Kristy is a victim, but she’s so much more than that; she’s a survivor. A resilient, determined, focused survivor of human sex trafficking. Kristy doesn’t focus much on the past, but rather pours her energies into the future and what she can do to help young women who finds themselves in Kristy’s same situation — trapped in a lifestyle detrimental to her physical and emotional well-being.
In her late 20s and pregnant, Kristy was scheduled to have yet another abortion. She doesn’t say how many abortions she endured during her time in “the life,” but she was determined that she wasn’t going to have another. Kristy prayed and asked God to help her escape the life she’d known for almost 20 years. With a smile on her face, she recounts the story as though it was yesterday: “God answered my prayer immediately. I was peaceful. I knew God was going to show me a way out; I just didn’t think it would take Him so long.”
A healthy baby boy and six years later, Kristy was free. While it took much longer than she’d hoped or anticipated, what she went through to gain her independence was the setup she needed for the comeback she wanted. Deciding to leave “the life,” however, proved a lot easier than actually exiting it.
Kristy had no job, no place to live, no food and, most importantly, no resources.
“I discovered that I couldn’t just stop. I had to eat, I had to care for my child. I had to continue to prostitute myself to be able to get out of prostitution!” Kristy said incredulously.
The experience opened her eyes to the obstacles every girl, woman, man, or boy faces when trying to escape the life of sex trafficking.
An encounter with a fellow victim who died before she could escape “the life” led Kristy to establish Veronica’s Voice, a Kansas City, Missouri, based agency providing services and resources to young women involved in the commercial sex industry. A 24-hour crisis hotline, a safe center, counseling, and peer support are just a few of the services Veronica’s Voice has offered over the years.
Kristy said, "I’ll never forget the dark pit God reached into and pulled me out of. Even after I was out, my heart was pained for my sisters that were still lost, trapped, tricked, or caught-up in ‘the life.’ So I started Veronica’s Voice to be a light for these wonderful women still surviving in the darkness."
Recently, Kristy established Magdalene KC, a two-year residential program where survivors of the commercial sex industry can receive free housing, medical care, therapy, education, and job training. “The Magdalene House provides women in transition a non-judgmental, non-threatening environment where they can safely learn the necessary skills to be fully independent,” Kristy explains.
The Magdalene House is home to three residents with room for two more. Kristy’s goal is to open six more houses in the Kansas City area.
Learn more about Veronica’s Voice and Magdalene KC at www.veronicasvoice.org.
— Debra Anderson is the communication director of the Potomac Conference.