January is National Human Trafficking Awareness month in the U.S. The statistics below, shared by Candle In A Dark Room are daunting:
- Human trafficking is a $150 billion a year industry, of which $99 billion is specifically from commercial sex slavery
- There are over 40 million victims globally and 1 in 7 victims are children
- Roughly over 1 million children are trafficked each year.
- Common age of victims is between 11-15 and 19-33, but ages between 0-1 years are common for children born into sex trafficking
- Globally 71% enslaved are women and girls, and 29% are men and boys
- 90% of the time victims are trafficked by someone they know
- Runaways, homeless children and foster children are most vulnerable to trafficking. A study shows over 57% of prostituted women were initially runway youth
- Internationally only .04%. of human trafficking cases are identified. Meaning a vast majority of trafficking cases are undetected.
Candle In A Dark Room is a non profit, founded by Desi Garcia, a counselor and crisis social worker, a mother, a wife and a survivor of child sexual abuse. Desi is also the creator of a podcast series called Candle In A Dark Room, available on several platforms: Anchor, Apple, Spotify and Iheartradio. Desi’s podcast gives a voice to survivors of sexual violence, sex trafficking, eating disorders and any life trauma. In Desi’s words, “We talk about all of the “off limit” subjects that society has taught us to sweep under the rug. You won’t finish an episode feeling sad, but you will finish the episodes with hope & encouragement. This podcast helps survivors take their power back!”
Who is Desi? Desi is 31 years old, a wife and a mom of two children, 6 and 8. She is a survivor of child sexual and physical abuse. Desi was sexually abused by her old step father from age 8-15 when her perpetrator was exposed and arrested, an experience in itself traumatizing, that involved a lot of police interviewing and even a lie detector test to prove her case. Even with the perpetrator in jail, the next several years were tough. At age 16, Desi was living in a residential treatment program, diagnosed with major depression, anxiety, PTSD, body dysmorphia disorder and dissociation disorder, a rare disorder that only 1% of population has as result of severe trauma. The dissociation disorder refers to someone disassociating and going back to being at the age when the trauma or abuse happened, with no recollection of what happens during that time period which sometimes would last for hours. Desi was in a residential center for two years and at one point the facility told her mom that she would be in a mental hospital her whole life. Finally, at age 17, Desi moved to New Mexico where she eventually met her husband and started working in the trauma and mental health field.
Desi specializes in trauma and adolescent treatment: “I LOVE what I do even though as a survivor it can be extra challenging at times. I’ve fought like hell EVERY SINGLE DAY to learn how to live a life full of happiness and joy despite what I’ve been through and what I still struggle with today.” Following her old step dad’s release from jail after 10 years, and upon his arrest in 2020, on child pornography charges, it was found that Desi was re-victimized by her old step father. Determined to fight for her future, Desi’s testimony was powerful and instrumental in getting the perpetrator back in jail.
As per Desi, the mission of Candle In A Dark Room is to help survivors take their power back and live the life they want, by learning lifetime skills to deal with what has happened and finding the purpose in their trauma.
For more information on Candle In A Dark Room, see links below:
(Article and picture published with Desi Garcia’s permission)