How to Overcome Trauma with Sex Trafficking Survivor Jenna McKaye
Jenna McKaye is a survivor of human trafficking with an incredible life story she now shares through advocacy groups throughout the US.
When someone starts a sentence with, “After the last time I was sold,” it can take a moment to register what those words mean. That is, unless you are one of the millions of survivors like Jenna McKaye.
Jenna was just 18 years old when she was lured away from her path as a star athlete with college scholarships on the horizon. Within months, the man she trusted turned her life into a nightmare. Gone was the beaming, confident, strong young woman with a promising future. In her place was a broken, abused, branded, and beaten victim of rape as her new husband sold Jenna in the sex trafficking market.
Jenna’s trafficker had pressured her into marrying him, branded her with a tattoo, and isolated her from the people who loved her. He even went so far as to file a restraining order against Jenna’s father. The psychological warfare he deployed on her, coupled with the trauma of repeated rapes and eventual beatings, were enough to keep Jenna captive for what seemed like an eternity. By day she would work her jobs and pretend she was okay. But the moment she returned home, she was subject to whatever her trafficker demanded.
She felt trapped. She told no one the full truth. She believed there was no one she could turn to for help. The morning after a full night of abuse and violence…
Jenna stared at the stranger in the mirrors and thought, “This can’t be my life.” Desperate for a familiar voice, she called her big sister.
“Jenna, you can always come home.” Her sister’s words pierced through months of pain and trauma, and filled Jenna with the courage it took for her to escape.
With the love and support of her family, Jenna made the break. Still, she never told anyone about the true extent of her trauma. The fact that her husband had abused her was enough of the story to share. Any hope she held that a doctor or nurse would pick up on the glaring signs of abuse during her visit were dashed when she was rushed in and out of appointments. Jenna assumed nobody cared, and decided she would just move forward as if it never happened.
For the next few years, on the surface, it appeared she was thriving; She married a Marine, had a baby, started college, and looked like the vision of health and happiness. But untreated trauma and post traumatic stress were wreaking havoc with her, inside.
Jenna went through years of struggles, with mental health hospital stays, an overdose, a divorce, and being a single mom. Her path to healing and rebuilding a better life for herself and her son was long. It was painful, exhausting, and full of opportunities to give up. But Jenna pushed through it all.
Today, Jenna McKaye has her own foundation that serves survivors of trafficking.
She opens those services to at-risk youth as well, who are prime potential victims. She’s been invited to speak at the United Nations. She travels the country training hospital staff and law enforcement professionals how to recognize signs of abuse and trafficking, and she savors every moment with her son.
In this episode, Jenna shares her story of being lured into abuse, her life with her trafficker and her life after. She offers powerful lessons for parents on how to protect their kids, professionals on how to recognize abuse, and survivors on how to overcome their pain.
Here are some of the questions we aksed jenna mckaye:
SUBSCRIBE, RATE, AND REVIEW...PRETTY PLEASE?
Want to be the first to know when new episodes are released? Click here to subscribe in iTunes! Also, podcast reviews are pretty dam important to iTunes and the more reviews we receive, the more likely we’ll be able to get this podcast and message in front of more people. We’d be so grateful if you could leave a 5 star review right here letting us know what you enjoyed about this episode or what you like about the show.