Last month, the #MeToo movement was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year, and rightfully so. One in 6 men and 1 in 4 women has been sexually assaulted in his or her lifetime. That being said, many #MeToo stories remain untold. In the midst of the movement, victims of child sex trafficking hid in the shadows.
One of these victims is Summer Licon, who is now 19 years old.
“I was raped,” she said, hiding her pain behind her smile. But this wasn’t the first time. Since she was fourteen years old, Summer had been raped by hundreds of men.
A few years ago, I imagined Taken’s Liam Neeson riddling dozens of men with gunshots whenever I heard the term “sex trafficking.” Then, I met Summer and realized that I had it all wrong.
Like most victims, Summer doesn’t have a parent like Neeson to fight the men who raped her. In fact, she is one of the 86 percent of victims who had been abused as a child. Her mother beat and starved her until she left her on the streets. Her father was MIA.
Summer also wasn’t abducted like Neeson’s daughter. She was a fourteen-year-old girl looking for food and shelter after she became homeless. Men recognized this vulnerability and provided her basic needs in exchange for sex.
And, most importantly, Summer wasn’t trapped in the international sex trade. Born and raised in Round Rock, Texas, she was an American girl sexually exploited by American men – married, wealthy, prominent police officers, politicians, and businessmen.
In fact, Summer is one of 79,000 victims of child sex trafficking in Texas alone, but she, like many others, has fallen through the cracks. When movies dictate our perceptions of reality, we miss the victims that walk amongst us.