Former human trafficking victim speaks about dark past, advocate - WNEM TV 5

I-Team

Former human trafficking victim speaks about dark past, advocates for victims

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Jeannie Kennedy (Source: WNEM) Jeannie Kennedy (Source: WNEM)
MID-MICHIGAN (WNEM) -

She went from victim to victory and became the face of hope for rescue from human trafficking.

She was addicted to drugs and was used by strangers for sex.

She managed to escape that life and turn her life around. Now she's taking her experience in the trade and using it to help save others from the same terrible fate.

They are some of the most helpless among us, battered women, abused children. They're victims of life's circumstances, victimized by predators - Human traffickers who exploit, degrade and even sell them into the bondage of prostitution.

Jeannie Kennedy is a victim turned advocate. She escaped the street life and now is in the fight to save the lives of others.

"Stemming from my troubled childhood. You know, I had grown up sexually assaulted my whole life. I think that kind of trauma inflicted causes permanent damage," Kennedy said.

Living in a peaceful present and facing a bright future, Kennedy is the unlikely product of a dark and painful past. She was a victim of human trafficking, being pimped into prostitution.

She was just 21-years-old poisoning her body with narcotics and selling herself for sex to strangers. She was tricked into being turned out by the Las Vegas pimp who used a shopping spree of clothes and jewelry to lure her into his car, his clutches and then service for his clients.

She opened up to the I-Team about her struggles hoping her story would save others.

"He turned me out and he sent me out with these two other very beautiful girls. The next three days were so full of cocaine. I mean, it was, I literally don't recall sleeping the whole three days I was there," Kennedy said.

This was the beginning of a nightmarish seven year resume of the most degrading experiences - prostitution, dancing in strip clubs and doing it all while being used and abused by pimps.

She was beaten by violent boyfriends while trying to raise the first three of her four children. In a twisted way she said it was a feeling of false fulfillment.

"I could go out and dance and I could have sugar daddies. And I'd have all this stuff and it would just be mine and I wouldn't have to give it away. That's an internal deception. Well, how I felt was all a life," Kennedy said.

Speaking courageously and candidly to TV5, Kennedy told her story in graphic detail about being sexually abused by her father until she was 17. She was turned out until she was 21 and returned to work at strip clubs and Genesee County prostitution until 2006.

She hopes her dark experiences can be a beacon of light to lead others out of the street life.

"For the victims who are going through that yet want out, but see no way, they need somebody they can say 'how can I do it,'" Kennedy said.

She is now an advocate against human trafficking and for the rescue of its victims. She has quite literally become the poster child for rescue.

"I'm thankful because my words would have no impact. I wouldn't be able to relate to those who have been victims and I wouldn't have the courage or the boldness to be out here for those who can't speak. I just want to snatch them up, I just want to love 'em and rebuild 'em," Kennedy said.

She said human trafficking victims often end up hopelessly addicted to drugs, jailed or dead.

Kennedy credits a religious conversion in 2013 for the strength to free herself and for the courage and desire to help others through advocacy and a Genesee County street ministry.

She also travels all over Mid-Michigan with a busy public speaking schedule. She said plans are in the works for a documentary about her experiences.

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