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Fear in writing, fear in life (guest post by Kim Purcell)

Approximately 2.5 million people are forced into labor each year.
1.2 million children are trafficked each year.
95% of human trafficking victims experience physical and sexual abuse.
43% are used for forced sexual exploitation.
(Statistics from UNglobalcompact.org)
1/3 of runaways teens are lured into sexual exploitation and trafficking within 48 hours of leaving home.
95% of sex trafficking victims have been sexually abused at home.
“Survival Sex” is the practice of being coerced to provide sex in exchange for food and shelter.
The average age of entry into female prostitution in America is 12 to 14 years old.
Given these facts, it is more than time to see these stories being told in our teen fiction.  One such story is Trafficked by Kim Purcell.  Today she writes a guest blog post for TLT on fear and how she came to write her novel about human trafficking.

People often ask me what made me write a novel about human trafficking since it’s such a bleak topic. Many influences came at around the same time to point me in the direction of writing this book – a news article, my English as a Second Language students, a housekeeper who was being mistreated, and my cousin living in Moldova, a poor country in the former Soviet Union with a terrible trafficking problem. I hate to see people being mistreated and I wanted to do something about it. However, I was also writing about fear, something every one of us has to overcome, something I’ve worked on overcoming as a person and as a writer.

A 17-year-old Moldovan girl whose parents have been killed is brought to the United States to work as a slave for a family in Los Angeles.  Hannah believes she’s being brought from Moldova to Los Angeles to become a nanny for a Russian family. But her American dream quickly spirals into a nightmare. The Platonovs force Hannah to work sixteen-hour days, won’t let her leave the house, and seem to have a lot of secrets—from Hannah and from each other.  Stranded in a foreign land with false documents, no money, and nobody who can help her, Hannah must find a way to save herself from her new status as a modern-day slave or risk losing the one thing she has left: her life. (Description of Trafficked from Goodreads)

Fear is so universal that I knew readers would be able to relate to my main character, Hannah. She is trapped by the traffickers’ threats and her own fear, not by any physical lock or chain. When I researched human trafficking cases, this is what surprised me most: they have many chances to get away, but they don’t, because they’re too afraid.

Human Trafficking Infographic
from http://stopthetraffik.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/exciting-new-human-trafficking-infographic/

It made me think that modern day slaves aren’t any different from anyone who’s afraid to do something he or she’d like to do. Why do people stay in jobs they hate? Why was it so hard for my ESL students to speak in English to strangers? Why do people stay in relationships that make them miserable? Why don’t we follow our dreams? It usually boils down to fear. I felt that if I could find a way for Hannah to get through her fear, I could find a way for anyone, including myself, to do it too.
Human Trafficking Infographic by Andrew Fung

While I was writing this book, I had to face the fear that I might never be published and people would look at me with pity and think, well, she wasn’t good enough, so sad for her. I’d written two unpublished novels before this one and people had stopped asking me about my writing. I feared I’d never be able to wave that first novel in the air and shout: “I did it.” I was terrified that I’d be that person with a dream who didn’t make it.

Click here for more information about Human Trafficking
Help Trafficked Teens, find out how by visiting Kim Purcell online
For a book discussion guide and more, visit Kim Purcell online
Not for Sale, the website dedicated to ending human slavery in our lifetime. Visit it.
But I kept writing anyway. I put one step in front of the other. I wrote draft after draft. I started to feel proud of what I was writing and I stepped out of the gloomy fear fog. As I overcame my own fear, I was able to make my main character, Hannah, believe in herself and take those few steps forward to change her life. Because sometimes all it takes is just a few more steps and then you’re there.
About Kim Purcell
I grew up in a small town in Canada. It wasn’t right for me, so I left. I went to the University in British Columbia, did a bunch of traveling, got married and moved to LA. I wrote two “practice” novels before TRAFFICKED. I had two kids. We all moved to New York. I love the growl, the sassy walk, the honesty of New York City. It’s inspirational. In my spare time, I’m a swimmer and a runner and a yogi. I dance in elevators and change rooms. I laugh a lot and sometimes I yell.  (More information here)


  1. Human trafficking is such an important issue, and this is one of the few books I've seen that tackle this topic. I haven't read it yet, but it's been on my list since I first heard of it. From other interviews and guest posts I've read it sounds like the author really did her research, and knows her stuff, which I absolutely appreciate. I also think it's great that the story takes place in the U.S. Often times people think human trafficking is something that happens “over there” or in less developed nations – not in Canada or the U.S – our own backyards. But the sad truth is that it does! And we NEED to be talking about this!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Compelling post.


  1. […] be sure to take into account the human trafficking aspect of this issue, partially detailed by this […]

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