Valley human trafficking survivor shares her story

3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago Friday, January 13 2023 Jan 13, 2023 January 13, 2023 10:56 PM January 13, 2023 in News - Local

For seven years, Brenda Gonzalez was exploited as forced to work a cleaning job and have sex for money in Houston while paying off a daily debt of $3,000.

Her journey to the U.S. began while trying to escape gang violence in El Salvador.

“The gangs back in home would be on the lookout for me,” Gonzalez explained. “Every time I would leave my house to get to college in the morning, they would send pictures and threats to my dad.” 

Gonzalez’s family chose to send her to the U.S. with the help of a coyote.

After crossing the border into the U.S., a new life of abuse began for Gonzalez — one she couldn't escape.

“I was threatened that any little movement I made, they would go after my family,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez eventually got help from the FBI once the business she worked at as a sex worker was raided.

“That was the day that changed my life,” Gonzalez added.

Gonzalez had to receive psychological help to recover from her ordeal.

She’s sharing her story in the hopes that it raises awareness, and saves a life.

According to the International Labor Organization, there are nearly 25 million victims of human trafficking around the globe.

Some of those cases are here in the Valley.

RELATED: As human trafficking cases double, Willacy County DA’s office hold awareness event

It’s why the city of Pharr will hold an information workshop on Saturday, Jan. 13 at the Pharr One building located at 1121 E. Nolana Loop from 8 a.m. through noon,

“We want the community to understand that anyone can be a victim of human trafficking," Pharr police human trafficking liaison Nancy Gonzalez said.

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline by calling 1-888-373-7888. 

Those in Mexico can contact the 800-553-3000 for the National Human Trafficking Hotline in Mexico.

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