The Ugly Truth

981657_10200453461392170_457368876_oI have to turn away.  The staged picture is too real.  Normally, I love seeing images of my daughter, but not these.  Even though I know they aren’t real my eyes don’t want to see the details.

This can’t be my care-free, undefiled girl.  The pain in her eyes repels me.  I force myself to look again.  Stifling tears I finally take in every pixel.  Tears, filth, anguish, tattered clothing, vile bedding.


I exhale.  It’s not real!

Not this time.  But for too many children this is their reality.  Sex trafficking is a real thing.  When I first became aware of it, I thought of it as an over-there problem.  It happened in other countries and it was reprehensible, but it didn’t happen here.  Then I learned the truth.  It’s also a right-here problem.

I live in a city that is a major hub for trafficking.  Even in my affluent, low-crime suburb it happens.  It is a global problem.  It is an over-there problem and a right-here problem. When I learned this, I was faced with the choice to become more aware and see the truth or live with my head in the sand.  I chose to see the truth.

Others are making the same choice.  A group of people have chosen to take one girl’s story and make a short-film to raise awareness.  Savannah chose to be a part of the promotional photo shoot.  And I chose to make myself share these pictures.

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There are numerous websites that raise awareness about trafficking, but here are just a few statistics:

  • Two children are sold every minute
  • Over 1.2 million children are trafficked annually
  • Over 100,000 US children are forcefully engaged in prostitution or pornography each year

How many children have been sold in the time I have taken to write this?  How many have been sold in the time it has taken you to read it?

Seeing Savannah in trafficking pictures is hard, but I am inordinately proud of her willingness to do it.  What can you do?  What will you do?

  • You can become a sponsor for the film.
  • If you are in the DFW area you can come to a fundraiser on Friday night.

No matter what you do or don’t do, hug your priceless children and thank God they aren’t the ones living in the nightmare of slavery.


  1. Ashana M

    June 12, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    I think what’s harder to fathom is that sometimes trafficking doesn’t look like this. I was trafficked. I was fed and clothed. I was quiet, but I concealed my terror most of the time. I went to public schools. I went to the grocery store with my mom. I went to church. No one knew. Traffickers look like everyone else, and sometimes so do trafficked children.

    • Holly Holladay

      June 12, 2013 at 6:12 pm

      Excellent point, Ashana and I absolutely agree! Thank you for pointing out what I failed to make clear, and thank you for stopping by to read. 🙂

      I wish you the best!

  2. Philipa

    June 14, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Wow. Holly this is powerful… In these photos, I believe Savannah captured the emotional pain and torment any kind of trafficking brings. Something I can only begin to fathom.

    You are a beautiful and captivating writer Holly 🙂 thanks for sharing your heart with us!


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