Alexandria Dean and Barbara Amaya

Recorded April 13, 2021 Archived April 13, 2021 43:22 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: ddv000649


Friends Alexandria Dean (51) and Barbara Amaya [no age given] share their experiences as survivors of sexual trafficking, discuss their work writing about their stories and helping other survivors, and also discuss the importance of empathy.

Subject Log / Time Code

AD introduces herself, and says that she was trafficked by her mother and abused by her father. She explains that she wrote a book that serves as a testimony of the things that happened to her, and after she wrote the book, she started a nonprofit to help others who have been trafficked.
B says that she is from Fairfax, Virginia and says that she was taken out of her home at an early age because of the abuse that she was experiencing at home. She says that she was trafficked in New York City and she was there for over a decade. She explains that she did not know she was a victim of human trafficking.
B says she remembers hearing about a human trafficking case on the news in 2012, and having an ‘a-ha’ moment where she realized she had been trafficked, and that she wanted to help other survivors.
B and AD talk about how initially they thought of themselves as prostitutes, but later realized that they were being trafficked.
AD says that she is shocked by the fact that out of 1,000 reported rapes, less than five see jail time. She relates this issue to the need for trauma-informed education.
AD talks about how trauma affects the brain.
B talks about the importance of educating law enforcement and medical professionals about human trafficking.
B talks about going back to New York and clear her criminal records. She says that at the time, only seven states allowed for survivors of sex trafficking to clear their records, and now almost all states do.
B talks about the importance of words and language. She and AD discuss the term “john” and how she is replacing it with “rapist.” They also discuss the phrase “child prostitute.”
AD talks about wondering whether she would ever be able to escape the abuse, and also discusses the issue of people turning the other way when they suspect that something might be going on.


  • Alexandria Dean
  • Barbara Amaya

Recording Location

Virtual Recording

Partnership Type

Fee for Service


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00:01 I am Alexandria Dean. I'm 51 years old today is April 13th, 2021 and I am in Tennessee, Nashville, Tennessee. And I am here with my interview partner Barbara, Amaya.

00:24 Hi, I'm Barbara Amaya. I'm in Arlington, Virginia.

00:30 And I'm here with my interview partner Alexandria. Dean.

00:34 And,

00:36 What else am I supposed to say? That's it. I'm here and Barbara, Amaya.

00:46 April 13th. 2021, Barbara, Amaya.

00:57 So I guess we're recording now.

01:02 We are, I would like to say that I can hear my voice now. I can't OK. Google.

01:11 I am very honored to be here today, and I'll be having a conversation with my good friend, Alexandria Dean. And I, I, I, I, I would like to impart a lot of information in the time that we have that we know here about human trafficking in the United States, and I think we decided we would we decide that we're going to kind of introduce ourselves for a few minutes after that. So let's go now Alexandra.

01:45 That sounds great. I'm Alexandria Dean and I have

01:56 Some history with you and sex trafficking, my mother traffic me when I was 11 until I was fifteen prior to that. And after that enduring that my father was a subsidiary of abusive. He was the product of incest and he perpetrated the same on myself and my siblings.

02:19 I wrote a book called from Heaven to Hell and back a few times, which gives my testimony of the things that has happened. So after after I written the book, I began to start a nonprofit called Jr. House International Incorporated and work. Pretty hard to share my testimony to help those that have been trafficked as well. I called my brothers and sisters and bring awareness to the public all around the world, to share things that people can do to help stop this.

03:20 Yeah, so yeah, I just hearing you put that all that information into those senses is is okay. So

03:37 I think one of the points that we really want to get across here. She was. People, is that

03:43 Victims don't self-identify and having said that, you know, I was trafficked in. Let me, let me backup. I'm from Fairfax, Virginia.

03:53 Fairfax Virginia has one of the highest cost of living areas in United States. Apparently, but things are happening in my home in Fairfax in the Suburban home, that shouldn't happen to any child, right? I was, I was taking out of my home very early on because of the sexual abuse and the abuse that I was experiencing there, and I went to juvenile justice system, Foster Care Systems, and all this systems. And I was a very vulnerable child. I was a child, so I was already going to go, but I was even more vulnerable because of that trauma, right? And I ended up

04:28 Being trafficked in New York City. I was taken to New York City.

04:36 Buy a trafficker and I was therefore under his control and exploitation for over a decade. So I grew up in the streets of New York City while I was being trafficked.

04:51 And by the time I left New York, I really didn't know how old I was. I didn't know my age. I didn't have any identification. I had nothing. I've been through.

05:02 Everything that anybody could imagine. And then some I've been arrested numerous times. I've been in Rogers Island prison. I've been through all of that, but I I didn't realize it kill. It just came to say this, right? Allie like it kills me today. I didn't know I was a victim of human trafficking and it wasn't

05:28 2812 sitting right here in this living room.

05:32 News is on in the background. I'm in a very dark dark place. Can't say I like the human race very much, right with my good friend, Bill wolf active with your fax County police department. Anyway, he had a case to miles from here. Gang. Members were trafficking young women. They were talking about it, on the news. It was a pretty big case. Probably remember Alex. And

06:00 I still thought they were talking about human trafficking and I was like, I don't know. What is human trafficking. I don't know what I wasn't, really paying attention to the news cast. I wasn't. And they started talking about the recruitment techniques that these on

06:14 People read.

06:22 That awesome moment that people want that moment. You know, that that's purpose in life. Whatever that moment and I went, what are they taught? What that's what happened to me? Yeah, the victim and I was a victim of your own eye and I felt a deep anger after that, that it was, that it was still happening to people today. Yes. Yes. What propelled me forward to become, who I am today. Do the work I do today, and I didn't get I began to educate myself about what human trafficking is in the United States, even though I had survived over a decade in the streets of first Washington, DC, our nation's capital V in New York City. And in all ways people people really do. I think they really don't get the fact that victims don't self-identify. Right, right.

07:22 Or are provide services half and service providers. Provide services for me. So that's a big, big thing. Right? You're right. Yeah. I had someone come to the realization right in front of me that that they were trafficked and that was

07:45 Something to behold.

07:47 Absolutely.

07:50 Garden. So, you know, I would take me many hours to get into everything that happened to me in the streets of New York City, but I will get the control of a traffic, you know, and and by the time I left New York at age 24 or so, 23 24, I never told anyone. What happened to me. Yeah, for decades. Till that, that tip that I had, right, when I came to the realization that I was a victim in that, all I wanted to do was

08:24 Somehow.

08:26 Try.

08:28 To let this not happen to anyone else ever again in there. And yes, that's all that propelled me forward and that's why I'm here today doing the work that I do. That's how we came to know each other. Yes, it is. Yes. You're absolutely right.

08:45 Do I think what we we were? We wanted to, to, to try to focus on.

08:55 And partying as much information as we can to whoever ends up. I think one of the things that we wanted to talk about was

09:07 What should we talk about first? I think one of the things you wanted to have a conversation about was.

09:12 How to end it. And that's just an easy thing to talk about. And, and even I agree with you, a self identifying because I didn't the best words that I could use to describe, was that my mother prostituted? Me? Great, which is really? Yeah. That's something that everybody knows about and thinks it's something that you do to yourself, but nobody, you know, when when you're 11 years old.

09:50 Who says, this is what I'm going to do, you know.

09:54 It doesn't make much sense. When that is what you're trying. You know, what 11 year old 12 year, old 13 year old 14 year, 15 year old. Anybody really wants to know?

10:11 Who wants to prosecute without or who would allow somebody to do that? It's not something that is necessarily true. And it's there's a lot of layers that need to be pulled back. But I think that we can begin to do that because no 11 year old is going to traffic themselves. No, 15 year old is going to do without already having blue being groomed. I think that has a huge part to do with it. And those have been molested are the ones being groomed to be trafficked. And

10:53 Yeah, what do you think about? Yeah, I mean, you know what? I always.

11:01 I find myself even more and more lately. Just just kind of breaking it down, going straight to the choice a lot. You know that, you know, and I often.

11:19 People think that's a choice that a victim Aid, or they see a young girl or boy, young woman young, man, and they think they have that stereotypical Viewpoint of that person, that victim. And they think that's a choice that you said that you made, you know, and yet, there are laws in place in this country that stay

11:46 That's rape. If if that adult.

11:51 Had sex is not having sex with that person that shot. That's great. That's actual rape. You know. That's, that's that's against the law. And that's, that's not a choice that that's being made by that child, right? And an n, and I can talk a lot of weed. We both could talk a lot of trauma Bond formation. Which, in my opinion, is the main method of control of sex, traffickers? Right talking about rape in this country. It astounds it astounds me to know that I have 1000 reported rapes and this is something that was put out by rain out of 1,000 reported rapes.

12:49 Less than 5 actually see jail time.

12:53 Really five out of reported rapes. Yes, and that's a problem. And I think that goes directly to trauma-informed in common formed, in the police department in the, The First Responders in the law enforcement that they're the need to be trauma-informed until training is vital to the actual numbers of of jail people because of the rape, and that's only the reported race. That's the, that's what really gets me. And if, if people aren't being taking it seriously, when, when it's right, how are they ever going to take human sex trafficking seriously?

13:44 Because they're not.

13:47 If it doesn't make their sit there in a criteria, you know what I'm saying? It, if it's not according to what their perception of what sex trafficking is a with, their perception of rape is then when things are being taken care of appropriately. I think that that is vital to the education of America on the subject education. That's what my belief is awareness, education and legislation, right? And we can talk

14:28 The hours of what this is, breaking through people's stereotypical, you know, viewpoints of of what what is a victim, you know, and about law enforcement. I mean,

14:51 Law enforcement their job is to, you know, enforce the law. That's what they're supposed to be doing. That's their job. Right? I think oftentimes criminal behavior and survivors behavior is very similar right times in New York City. You know, I was, I was in the street with the police would come through and they would

15:21 To start rounding everybody up in arresting people. Right? And we would run and they would grab us and they were chained us all together. And I just kind of want to paint a picture here. They would train it together. Throw it in the back of a van and take us to the police station and it would go really quickly, you know, and they would ask questions. You know what your name was date of birth. And of course, I would give a Lisa's is everyone else did? And but my behavior was probably very criminal looking Behavior, you know, and actually was a law being broken. Yeah, there are, there were laws being broken but my behavior, you know, no eye contact. I wasn't you. I was giving a false name. So it was definitely the right. It'll be arrested. We be spend the rest of the night in the police station. They take a Polaroid photo of us. They take fingerprints. You're the first time I was arrested. That was the beginning.

16:21 My criminal record right in the morning. They take us down to 100, Centre Street to the court. And this always

16:34 I have this horrible Goosebump be feeling. When I remember it. When I think about this part of this, they would take us down and they would take us out of the back of this van and they would take us and they would pray this out, handcuffed again in front of all the people that were going to work but we would call squares, you know, they would take us out front of all the regular people that we're going to work and I always felt such a deep sense of Shame, you know, I felt like screaming stop looking at me, you know, where whatever I felt horrible Shame about that has been to the court after the court into a big room. And I got very violent and that's holding cell back there. Very violent. People were being people are fighting robbing each other beating each other up.

17:28 Anyway, they would take eventually, your name would be called when you given a court. Appointed attorney taking him to the court, go in front of the judge. There was no question of pleading not guilty. Are you guilty or not guilty? You are guilty for loading for the purposes of prostitution. That was it. You're a prostitute, you know, go in front of the judge, to give him some paperwork and then have to return to him.

17:54 Without the quote are the certain amount of money that I was supposed to be bringing this person and be sent back out into the street after being, you know, probably brutally beaten up. So that happened doesn't the X and there began my criminal record, even though I was the first time I was arrested. I think I was 13 like that. You know, I think you bring up some excellent with mine experience was very much different than that.

18:28 But I can see a lot of parallels and you know what I mean? Is that the structure is still the same? We can also look at it in terms, of,, you know, when when it's traumatic event occurs your brain, lays down a pathway that will happen and your response to the initial trauma will be your response each time to that traumatic event. So with what you smell, what you hear, what you see, what you taste, those things get logged into your brain and you respond the same way. Anything remotely close to that occurs.

19:15 And so, when that happens, I mean, it's it's imperative, especially for children, and I think you bring up an excellent point that, you know, the the criminal element is very similar to the victim, and it was the victim's timeline looks like as well. And I think that is a lot of that has to do with the trauma because many of the victim, any of the perpetrators or victims, at some point, not all, not all but some, some have, themselves and their, they're working it out and very wrong wrong, wrong way, such as my mother and my own father. And so,

20:09 Really? I think when we look at it, in terms of trauma and what Society sees when they saw, they saw in you as an insta, you know, a fifteen-year-old a 14 year old or however, old you were being shacked up with a must have done something wrong. That's what most people automatically, think you must have done something wrong there and they're getting what they deserve his other end of petty thefts, or just to promiscuous or right. They don't they don't see. This child has been placed in a really hideous position to do these things. They, they answer to somebody, they're being caused to do something for me, in particular. It wasn't eyes. I was still having to go to school, participate in after-school.

21:09 You know, in so it was a very different, very different.

21:16 Jewelry compared to yours or test money compared to to where you were. So there was

21:24 Do accountability, but it was just on a different format. So that if it did not bring the attention that I was being arrested because that was, that was the biggest biggest. No, no, no cops are to ever come to our door ever. I'm going to did to this day. My mother is still angry with me.

21:46 You know, you know how you like when I when I speak today and I as I stay in my book and nobody's girl. I people always

21:58 Wonder and enduring Q&A sessions. I like to do that. People will ask me but how's that possible? How could you be traffic in New York City for over a decade? And the police never noticed and Noah. Nobody ever said to you. Wait a minute. Are you how old are you? How old are you today?

22:26 Well, used to say this topic is, was kind of the flavor of the month. So, you know, became a very popular topic that people wanted to talk about. But it's been about when I had my Epiphany and came to the realization that I was actually a victim of human trafficking that was in 2010 to 2012. 20 like 20, 12 2013. So it's been a few years now and I think

22:54 People are becoming more aware of what it is, but still many, aren't you know why? I came on for today? Medical professionals all different people in and then you'd be amazed you wouldn't be amazed but people would be amazed at how many officers and First Responders aren't of the mindset that victims are indeed victims, you know. And me. I mean, I think any time your kids so you're already vulnerable. You know, like I said, I like to break it down and traffickers look for vulnerable people their predators. That's what they do. It's not hard to figure that out. You know, and why do they do it because of money. That's why they do it, you know, I mean we can delve into yeah. I know that the statistics are and I don't like the quote statistics, but I think they're often all over the place depending on the agenda whoever's guarding them, but I think that of course many traffickers have experienced earlier trauma and their childhood. Yeah, but

23:54 Again, that comes to choices in life. How do you choose? What do you choose to do? How do you spell it handled at in your life? Right, right. Yeah, I think that

24:09 One of the ways that we can begin to ended up. I like what you said about education legislation. And what was the third one? Really correct information? And then, after we're aware of it, what do we do? We want to do something. Well morally, if you don't want to do anything morally, that's on you. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

24:36 You might want to think, okay. You don't want to do anything. Morally. Let's just say, you don't for whatever reason. I don't know then think about financially you don't have a problem with this but doesn't affect you. I'm sorry, but it does affect you if extra Pockets because in numerous numerous ways, you know, of all the all the people, all the, all the victims experiencing, this are going to probably need Services of some type in their life and those Services cost money. And as taxpayers, you're probably going to end up paying for any, you know, State. Yes, I'm saying like 100%

25:15 Yeah, awareness education and legislation. You know, I I knew nothing about how laws formed. I knew nothing about that. You know, I got you talk about school. I left school in the 6th grade. I had no formal.

25:41 What grade I was blessed to be able to go and come back to New York City and go through the same hallways at 100 Center Street and work with a great group of people.

25:57 And attorneys and clear those criminal records, right? When I started clearing my records, my criminal records that I had that, I never should have gotten in the first place. There were about seven states, that would allow survivors of sex trafficking to clear any criminal records. They got. And today. It's, it's, I don't know the exact number, but it's it's it's almost every state allows that unfortunately, not the state that I'm sitting in, but we're working on that. Yeah, when I started doing this again, I had a dream about that. I'm sorry to say that. I don't think this is ever going to end.

26:56 Play whenever.

27:00 What are you doing? Yeah, I hear you. I agree. It has some of the great. Yeah, I think that we can, we can definitely make a dent in it. I have to stay at some point in time. There will be far more of us than there are of John's and traffickers.

27:21 There will be far, more of us victims. Those are overcoming. All this, they'll be far more of us. And then there will be a traffickers and John's at some point in time. And I think if we rise up together.

27:40 Righteously, there is an opportunity for us to change things as a writer. I know that and you know that and words are I always struggle with words when I'm speaking in when I'm riding and that term John like I don't like the term client. I I don't I try not to use to tell you. I actually I've been using the term rapist or exploiter or body or whatever but that this is so powerful, aren't they? Yes. Yes.

28:25 Even though awareness is coming slowly but surely about this. I still see, I'll still see articles or Papers written where people will use terms like that or try a prostitute. You know, what is that? What is that really, you know, child prostitutes. Seriously. I mean those are you know, oxymoronic words to put the gaster personally. Yeah. That's an amazing way. The human brain isn't even fully formed until what age I mean, 20 something. Yeah. Yeah, so I think that when when we have

29:25 I take no toes.

29:28 What trauma does to the body and what it, how it causes, the different responses that we can do?

29:40 We can take note.

29:44 And that changes people's perceptions, because compassion goes a long way for, for those that have been a victim of this, and when the people understand the different responses and what is actually a trauma response. It makes it brings about a compassion that that, you know, law enforcement definitely needs that, you know, legislation me and and the public-at-large needs know this. I think that it, if it will help us all as Society, let alone, as, as just people, you know, seeing somebody else hurt or and it will help with our legislation that will help with how we respond to people when, when there's been a traumatic event in their life.

30:44 Especially when there's been multiple traumas in their life and repeated, and their life. And it's

30:52 You think wait when you've experienced that? I know I said, when I think back in and of

31:02 All the different nights of being raped and repeatedly. I thought, okay. This is never going to end. I don't I don't see where this is ever going to end and it's just what my life is going to be like all the rest of my life. And

31:23 Thank God, it wasn't but

31:27 There, wasn't anybody that knew.

31:30 Nobody knew that that was able to do anything about it and went and those that didn't know they were participating and those that didn't know and they suspected something but they didn't know what it was and said, nobody did anything.

31:48 And I couldn't tell anybody cuz I had other siblings and I knew that somebody was going to get hurt seriously and that was a proof that it did, but the people that knew something wasn't, right. They look the other way that comes into bereavement with what's happening. Whether we realized, you're not willing to look the other way when we don't acknowledge what are good responses and follow through on that and we look the other way we come into agreement with what is

32:19 And that is powerful. That's how it's gotten to where it is today, or it's a worldwide epidemic. It's it's huge. It's all around the world and that's because good people look the other way and we can't look the other way in.

32:36 We have to educate ourselves, and know better, and do better and be able to to tell somebody in authority and that person in the door. He needs to know what to do also.

32:48 Yards, beer bar as

32:52 Actually being trafficked with very different, right? But as you said early on, we have so much and as do all survivors of this horrible. Yes.

33:06 I was in.

33:09 Doctrinated. I was, I was and if I was in a criminal underworld, you know, I wasn't the only time I was around regular work at a people were when they were the men that were seeking to buy my body and they certainly were trying to help me get out of the situation at all. You know. I tried a couple times. I made it back to Fairfax one time, but I can't get back to New York. I think as we come to a close on our conversation soon. You know, I always do is try to remember lately, especially with everything that's going on at the middle of the pandemic. Now in 2020.

33:48 I want to call people to, to view each other.

33:54 No matter what your belief systems maybe as fellow human beings.

34:00 And feel and to see each other with compassion and kindness. If to do that, it would go a long way.

34:16 Just doing that would make a difference, you know.

34:25 Absolutely.

34:28 Absolutely. I think that would make a huge difference.

34:35 Do you want to talk about anything else when you're in your

34:41 5 minute, we have a few more minutes to go here. I think so. I think one of the things that is really important. This is educating ourselves and Department of Homeland Security, puts out the blue camp and that's a great resource for people to to check out what the indicators are with the, you know, and then what to do, when you see something or or think that there's a problem. You can also call the national hotline. 888-373-7888. Yeah.

35:32 The TV, the TV PA the trafficking report that comes out every year from all over the world and you know, a lot of it offers a lot of resources. Yes, educating yourself is, is important, vital important and, and you've done excellent. Educate yourself.

36:08 Having a publisher and writing a book that never was in my life there. But here I am. I am so proud of you. I am so proud of you.

36:19 Can I have the hospital soon with covid-19?

36:28 Yeah, it's okay.

36:44 One moment at a time, right? I think that I want that he can also check the hotline for National hotline at 233-7331 is always there.

37:00 Get help bd3 be free.

37:06 Yeah.

37:08 Are a lot of organizations that have jumped in and and are are

37:19 Trying to make a dent in this, but one of the big

37:23 Is his services for survivors that managed to get out of that. Just

37:40 Therapy coming to terms with somehow with what what you've experienced, right? The fact that you're alive and but coming back, you know, I say I was coming back from Mars. I felt like I was coming back from Underworld. I didn't know one of the rules of the traffic for one of his rules were no reading or writing. I wasn't aware of a lot of things that it even happened in the world, you know, I was like, coming back for another planet. I didn't know what to do with my, I didn't tell anyone what happened to me because of all the shame that I carry, cuz I thought it was all my fault that manipulation that he

38:23 It was really I think for survivors that manage to live and not die and come back to this world. This work-a-day world in a, what do you spell pee? What do you do? You know, where do you live? How do you find a job? What do you do? What do you have a criminal record? And how it, how are you supposed to function after I can allow you to clear? Those criminal records that you got while you were being trafficked?

39:09 Right, cuz your finances have been messed up because they have taken and and done things in your name that you didn't have any choice over. Yeah, that happens Sgt. Finances. I didn't even understand what money was Ali like,

39:30 My money was just like a piece of paper to me because I grew up while I was being traffic and I was just handing over all this money to this person in order to make them happy. Because the brain doesn't differentiate, whether it's a kid, getting an A on a test and going home to the parents and say, look, I got an A and the parents are happy and the child happy and everybody's happy or is he a sex trafficking, bringing this money to the trafficker and he's happy and I'm happy and everybody's happy. Yeah. Yeah, concept of what money even was, you know, I didn't

40:11 Do laundry much less open a bank account? You know, I didn't all those normal things that you do in life. Right? All different as survivors of sex trafficking as ours are. But yet we have all these similarities, right? Yeah.

40:34 Anger, propelled me forward. And I used to think.

40:41 We can make, we can end this weekend in this and I don't think we can end this but now, but I do think we can get it right. I think we can make it if, you know, you know, first of all, what if we can end demands and there wouldn't be an issue with that starts, very early aren't at home with education family. And of course, the school system, but it starts with the family, right? Young men thinking they can buy a human being and that's okay.

41:21 Are women better conversation? I know boys are trafficked as well. Women are trafficked, which is goes to the,, you know, the understanding of what people see now is that it is men and women the traffic and it is men and women that buy as well.

41:54 I think this has been a very good conversation.

41:58 I'm glad I am but you're glad you are getting what I need. Do. I still get the vaccine now? I guess you don't, my dear was great being able to talk to you even though you're in the hospital. Great talking to you too. Even though I'm here. This is been really good. I hope that we'll be able to impact somebody's life in a positive way through this, and that people will be able to gather information that they need to make it formal decision.

42:56 Reach out to victims to reach out to the law enforcement and help them as well.

43:05 I think it's each other.

43:11 Maybe if you were here are wearing. Yeah, well said well said.