As a survivor of exploitation in the sex trade, Monica is determined to share her story in a way that helps others. “So many girls and women on the street have lost their families,” she said. In the past year, Monica has become a strong advocate for change by speaking out about her experiences through the End Demand Illinois (EDI) speakers’ bureau.

“It’s not just telling your story,” she said. “Talking to these groups has helped me understand that what I’ve been through doesn’t define me as a person.”

Monica works closely with Barbara Echols, EDI survivor engagement coordinator, to reach audiences who want to learn more about the issues of sex trafficking and prostitution. By talking about the realities of violence and trauma in the sex trade, Monica challenges audiences to reconsider what they know. “What really motivates Monica is the young girls, talking to young women who could be at risk of exploitation,” Barbara said.

Monica also believes more must be done to deter people from buying sex, and this has motivated her to become a significant contributor to the EDI campaign. By speaking to college students, church groups and lawmakers, she challenges audiences to focus on the harms created by buying sex.

As Monica looks to the future, she wants to continue mentoring young women who are at risk of being exploited in the sex trade. She believes survivors deserve help and support, and she contributed to a new EDI proposal for a statewide system of supportive services for survivors of the sex trade. “It’s important that these ladies know that somebody cares. They need a safe place where there are women who’ve experienced the same things they’re going through.”

Learn more about the End Demand Illinois Proposal for Services here.

Read more from the 2011 CAASE Annual Report here.