Human Trafficking Survivor Shares Her Harrowing Story and Her Mission to Save Lives
Today we hear from a pinup model and mentor on how people getting into the industry can protect themselves. She’s also a speaker, author, and human trafficking survivor. And she’s on a mission to raise awareness about human trafficking and help save as many trafficking victims as she can.
Staying True to Yourself in the Modeling Industry
So, in addition to being a public speaker and a published author, you are also a pinup model. And you actually mentor models who are starting out in the field. As we now know, Jeffrey Epstein used a modeling agency to single out young women who would be vulnerable to trafficking. Could you tell us a bit about your work mentoring models and how people can stay safe in the industry?
Amanda Blackwood: I was taken advantage of early on in my career, when I first started getting into modeling, by photographers who told me, you’re never going to get any of these jobs or be hired in any way unless you take off more of your clothes … they would constantly pressure me to try and get me to go further down that dark road. And at the time I was married, I absolutely refused. I was 24 years old. And I worked with this guy multiple times and eventually this photographer did actually talk me into doing a photo shoot in nothing but my bra and underwear and a bathrobe. I was disgusted by it.
So one of the things that I’m really passionate about now is making sure that there’s other young ladies out there who are trying to get into this industry, I want them to understand that they don’t need to get naked to be beautiful. — Amanda Blackwood
Bringing Class and Dignity Back to Pinup
Amanda Blackwood: I work with several photographers here in Colorado, one in particular is Sassy Knot Photography. She is a phenomenal photographer. She also happens to be my best friend. So a little bit of a plug for her. But Collette is incredible…. We want to change the pinup culture. People these days think pinup means burlesque or nudity or lingerie, but that’s not the case.
Pinup is things that are styled in the old-fashioned era, particularly the 1930s and 1940s, the war effort. So that’s what we’re wanting to bring back. We want to bring back a style of class and dignity to pinup modeling.
View this post on Instagram
Amanda’s Harrowing Story
You published a book about your story last January called “Detailed Pieces of a Shattered Dream.” Could you tell us a bit about it?
Amanda Blackwood: It talks about my first time in human trafficking. And it talks about how I ended up in the position I ended up in without any kind of assistance, how dark it got, and how I was sold from this young couple to this other person and exactly how I got away. Basically I got away because I watched an awful lot of “MacGyver” as a kid growing up. And I learned early on that all of life’s problems can be solved with nothing but a rubber band and a paper clip.
I’ve since written to Richard Dean Anderson, who was the original MacGyver when I was a kid, and thanked him for being MacGyver because it was his acting that made the show so interesting and fun. But it was the show that basically saved my life … and I appreciate him and will never ever feel like I was truly alone in that moment because I had Richard Dean Anderson.
Human Trafficking Misconceptions
Thank you for sharing your story. I think there are probably a lot of misconceptions about human trafficking, and I wondered if you could straighten some of those out for us.
Amanda Blackwood: So a big one is that human trafficking is about sex trafficking. That’s not the case. I believe it’s something like 64 percent of all trafficking victims are actually forced labor. But that’s worldwide. Seventeen percent is sexual trafficking. Sixteen percent is forced labor camps that are imposed by governments. But what we’re talking about is there’s an estimated 24.9 million slaves in existence right now today…. So forced labor worldwide, that would be 16 million people. The 17 percent of human trafficking that is sexual slaves is 4.1 million people.
I mean, we’re talking huge amounts of people. This is more than what were killed during World War II, massive amounts there. Like I said, there’s more slaves right now in our current day and time than any other point in human history.
Pornography and Human Trafficking
Amanda Blackwood: Probably one of the biggest misconceptions is that pornography–the majority of pornography that is created today is actually done using people who are victims of human trafficking. It’s well over 80, 90 percent. I was shocked when I learned this myself, but at the same time I wasn’t because it happened to me. And I know there will come a day, there will come a time that something about me is going to surface and I will be humiliated. And I say this now because it’s already happened.
Traffickers Continue to Victimize Survivors
Amanda Blackwood: I’ve lost a job. I’ve lost friends. I’ve lost a good chunk of my life because photographic evidence of what happened to me my second time being trafficked was sent to a former boss of mine. It got out and it was all over the internet, and it completely destroyed the life that I had. And that was when I stood up and said, I am never going to be a victim again.
And if he’s sharing this stuff about me, he’s turning me into a victim from thousands of miles away. He’s doing it to me all over again and I can’t let that happen. And I decided finally that I was going to stand up and take a stance and fight back. And if I have to shout it from the rooftops and tell everybody in the world what happened to me before somebody else does, that’s what I’m going to do.
How Can We Protect Children from Traffickers?
How we can protect children and prevent them from getting trafficked in the first place?
Amanda Blackwood: The best key is always going to be education. A lot of people out there don’t want to face the ugly truth that human trafficking is a reality in our world right now…. People need to be informed of what can happen to their children, and it’s happening in higher and higher numbers constantly…. I would say get involved with these organizations in every state. If you can’t make it to a meeting, see if you can bring the meetings closer to you. See if you can get your neighborhood interested in learning more about human trafficking.
It doesn’t matter where it happens, just so long as people are making an effort to get educated and to learn just a little bit more about what to watch for. And that’s the only way that this is ever going to not happen to somebody else’s child.
Need Help? Contact Amanda!
Is there anything else you’d like to say that I didn’t ask you about?
Amanda Blackwood: If anybody needs any help trying to find an organization in their area, my copy of “Detailed Pieces of a Shattered Dream” that’s available online, there’s actually a section in the back of the book now that provides at least one anti-trafficking organization per state here in the United States and a couple of international organizations as well.
If somebody needs help outside of that, please, please feel free to reach out to me. I will help you to find somebody that is anti human trafficking that you can work with, either to learn more about trafficking or to find the help that you need if you are a victim of human trafficking looking to get out.
Press play at the top to listen to the rest of Amanda’s interview, where she goes more in-depth and shares a poem from her newest book called “Twisted Fate.”