‘I was 3’: Tampa human trafficking victim recalls on Human Trafficking Awareness Month

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. At this moment, a Tampa lady is sharing her remarkable story as a human trafficking survivor.

Angelea Valenti sheds light on the brutal reality that many men and women confront.

“I was 3, like it is all too often at the first hands that should have been there to protect me and keep me safe,” Valenti said in a statement.

Valenti has endured unspeakable tragedy; she was dragged into the realm of sex trafficking at an early age.

“When I was 13, I met the man who would later become my husband and trafficker. He promised me affection and everything I was missing at home—protection and love,” Valenti said. “First he had me strip in dance clubs and later have me exchange sexual favors because he demanded more money.”

She is now utilizing her traumatic experience to motivate other women.

Valenti works as an evaluation coordinator at Selah Freedom, an organization she is all too familiar with following a disastrous journey.

A court order to spend jail time or obtain therapy at Selah Freedom’s residential program would be her saving grace.

“I remember when he and Angelea came to assessment, and, you know, she was very much like so many of the other women that we see come through our residential program,” said Laurie Swink, co-founder of Selah Freedom.

With Swink’s assistance, Angelea is now the first to welcome home ladies who have been through a similar journey.

“I would have died without a doubt. There were so many days when I would sit there and pray for death because it would have been easier not to know that I had such a chance,” Valenti explained.

Every time she sees a new face, she reminds them of her determination and tenacity through a message she instills in them.

“You’re worth everything,” he threatened. “Do not believe the trafficker’s lies,” Valenti added.

Selah Freedom claims to be committed to bringing freedom to survivors of human trafficking. The Selah intake phone number is 1-888-8FREEME.

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