Sandra, 30, is one former sex slave helped by Sanctuary for Families. Kidnapped from her hardscrabble hometown in central Mexico and forced into the sex trade at age 19, she escaped her pimp-captor in 2011 and has received counseling, legal aid and health care from the group ever since. Wanting to protect her family, Sandra declined to provide her last name.
Here she tells her story:
On a good day, I’d only have to sleep with 30 men.
I always wore a tight, short skirt and stilettos. Alfredo was my “padrote” (pimp), and he arranged for different drivers to take me through Corona, Jackson Heights and sometimes Brooklyn. I would nod off in the car. I had a different driver every week.
On a bad day, when we left New York and went to Long Island or Connecticut, I couldn’t rest. One day, over the span of 16 consecutive hours in Boston, there were 80 men.
Alfredo beat me, refused to give me food or even water. The drivers he worked with advertised women on a “chica card” that they handed out to potential clients as they stumbled out of cheap nightclubs in Queens and Brooklyn.
I was also forced to hand out the cards to potential customers. Sometimes the cards had pictures of nude women. Other times they advertised children’s birthday parties. Everyone knew what the cards really meant; that the number on the back was to arrange deliveries of women.
We were delivered like pizzas.
Most of the men were day laborers. But some were well dressed, in suits. If they spoke Spanish, they paid $35 for 15 minutes, but if they spoke in English, the price went up to $45. For that price, the men could do whatever they wanted with me.
People think that prostitutes somehow enjoy what they do, but I can tell you that’s not true.
I had never been a prostitute. I did nothing wrong, but I was raped every day for the four years that I was a prisoner.