A human trafficking survivor who came face-to-face with a Mexican drug cartel hopes her story of survival will give victims strength.
Marjorie Saylor, 34, shared her story with NBC 7 San Diego in light of a renewed discussion on sex trafficking along the southern border.
In his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border this week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said drug cartels and street gangs are one of the main factors to blame for human trafficking.
Saylor said listening to Sessions talk about trafficking hit close to home for her. She first encountered a Mexican drug cartel more than a decade ago.
Saylor was 16 years old at the time, living with her much older boyfriend and his family. At first, she did not know she had agreed to move into a drug house.
"I'm laying on the floor in the room, just curled up in a ball," she recalled.
A group of men had walked into the room, demanding a large sum of money from Saylor's boyfriend's brother-in-law. Saylor's boyfriend's sister offered Saylor up as an exchange for the owned money, so the family could call it even.
“She goes, 'Why don't we keep the money and just give her. . .Marjorie,' because they already agreed to that,” recounted Saylor.
Her boyfriend’s brother-in-law thought about it, she remembered.
“And then he said, 'No, we can’t do that, she’s our babysitter,'” Saylor said.
That day was a close call for her, she told NBC 7, but Saylor's personal story of abuse began much earlier.
She was five when she was first sexually abused, she said.
“First when I was five it was his stepfather,” Saylor said, referring to her stepfather's stepfather. The abuse continued for several years, and escalated when she turned 12, “when I started to develop and mature my stepfather started to be in on the abuse.”
Her mother left her stepfather when Saylor turned 14. The family moved to Orange County, but a year later she was sexually assaulted by a teenager in her new neighborhood. it was then Saylor said she decided to run away.
The escape did not end the abuse, though, she said. At 21, she was trafficked at a strip club in Orange County.
“They were arranging for people for me to sleep with,” said Saylor. “They would make it so I couldn’t get lap dances, and I would need to do this at the end of the night.”
That abuse continued for several years. She managed to escape but at 29, and met her last abuser.
The man sexually abused her and forced Saylor to become a domestic slave. They traveled from Southern California all the way to Kansas City in the span of two years.
In that time period, Saylor had a daughter.
Her daughter proved to be the strength she needed to survive and escape. When her daughter was 11 months old, Saylor left and never looked back.
“I made a promise to her. I said, 'I will never let anybody hurt you,'” said Saylor.
Saylor hopes her story will help “every other girl out there that is still struggling… I'll be that voice, even if it saves one.”
If you know anyone who is a victim of sexual abuse or sex trafficking, there is confidential help by texting HELP to 233733 (BEFREE).