At Unbound, we believe that every person has a unique part to play in bringing an end to human trafficking. That’s why we encourage everyone (regardless of your career, age, or background) to get involved. Volunteers, survivors, and partners are truly the faces of Unbound; we wouldn’t be who we are without you! Below is the story of Julia Walsh, one of our brave survivors and a powerful advocate for change.
Julia Walsh fell prey to the dark world of human trafficking as a freshman in college. After four years as a victim, Julia was rescued and set on a path towards freedom. She now works at our Unbound office in Fort Worth and is a crucial advocate for other survivors. Julia’s new book, “Surviving ‘The Life’” tells a powerful story of deep pain turned into restoration and hope.
In her book, Julia addresses her reader and says that she “shares her story so others may know that not only can [they] survive sex trafficking, but [they] can have a bright and successful future.” Her desire is to offer hope to anyone who has been in similar circumstances and to equip victims with hope and the knowledge that they can have a full life, rather than just a life of survival.
In the middle of her trafficking, Julia found hope for a better life in helping another girl escape “The Life.” Though it came at a cost for her, Julia defied her trafficker and sent the girl to safety in a show of amazing courage, She describes this experience in the following excerpt:
“One day, we drove up to Waco, and [my trafficker] told me to post an ad on Backpage, as usual. He left me at the motel to work, telling me I’d better have money for him when he returned. I worked on ‘automatic,’ thinking only of obedience and survival. Later that night, he came back with a dangerous grin on his face and told me to get dressed and come with him to the parking lot. There, we met up with a man with three young white girls. My trafficker bragged, talked, and ‘finessed’ everyone in the room. One of the girls openly said she wanted to go with us. The other pimp wasn’t happy. When the girl came with us, my heart broke. She told us she was 18, but I could tell she was younger. Years later, when I was out of the life, I found out she had run away from a local youth residential center with another girl.
“My maternal instincts kicked in, and I started trying to figure out how to save her. When we were alone, I tried to convince her this was not what she wanted, but she argued with me, thinking Jonathan would take care of her. She told Jonathan what I said to her, and he threatened me, my unborn child, and my freedom. I tried to talk him into letting her leave, telling him a young runaway would cause him problems. He wouldn’t listen. I tried to get her to call her family, but she wouldn’t. She said both parents were crack addicts who beat her every day. She didn’t want to go home. Money had to be made, and she wouldn’t leave. So I set up tricks for us, giving her the ‘repeats’ or ‘regulars,’ who I knew would be somewhat safer.
“I finally convinced Jonathan he needed to send the girl home to keep us out of trouble. As soon as he left, before he could change his mind, I took her to the Greyhound Station, bought her a ticket, and gave her all the money I had. I scribbled my name and number on a torn off piece of paper, telling her to call me if she ever needed anything or found herself in trouble. Jonathan didn’t know I gave her my name, phone number, and money, and I prayed he wouldn’t find out. When her bus pulled out of the station, I had 24 hours to make up all that money to give to Jonathan when he returned the next day.
“Because of this girl, I found a little bit of hope. She doesn’t know it, but in letting me help her get out of there, she helped me find the inspiration I needed to persevere through this life a little bit longer. She gave me a glimmer of hope for myself, my daughter, and my family. She fueled my will to survive a little bit longer and sparked some of my future desire to help people in ‘The Life.’”
This amazing testimony of hope in such a dark place is a theme throughout Julia’s story. Today, through her work at UnBound, Julia works to give this same hope to victims of human trafficking. Julia Walsh is a courageous survivor of human trafficking and advocate for others. She fights for girls like herself tirelessly and is committed to sharing her story with anyone who will listen.