Modern Day Slavery and the Hidden Horrors of Human Trafficking

As a writer, I'm very much influenced by the news I read every day. (I'm an unapologetic news junkie). So many of the stories I read hit me right in the heart and send me into fits of outrage, but none so much as the trafficking of women and children in the sex trade. I hadn't realized how much it affected me until book three in my Checkpoint, Berlin series came out. All three books deal with this issue from both the law enforcement side, and from the point of view of characters. It hit me as quite a shock. When, exactly, had I decided to tackle this issue in this manner?

I think two things are true about writers: One, we feel things deeply. It's often why we write. We need the outlet. These thoughts and emotions have to go somewhere, and two, the writing process itself is a mystery. Even when I plot out a story, it takes twists along the way, veering off into dark and unexpected alleys as the characters take on their own lives, leading me, and demanding I follow. 

In book one, Exposed: The Education of Sarah Brown, it begins innocently enough with a young woman who has been sheltered her whole life, seeking adventure. However, the underlying story is about a young man who is kidnapped by a predator of means, literally taken out of country, and a grown, damaged man, a previous victim of this same pedophile, who must face his fears to help save the boy.

In book two, The Evolution of Elsa Kreiss, three young girls go missing from Charlottenburg, and the police must solve the case, hopefully in time to save the missing. There are deeper links to trafficking within the Russian mafia, and the larger issue of criminal networks and complicit government officials begins to take shape.

In book three, The Redemption of Joseph Heinz, the main character, Det. Heinz, seeks to solve a cold case mentioned in book one, that has haunted him since. Even though he's seen far more in his line of work than most people can handle, missing and abducted children are still his emotional Achilles heel. Human Trafficking is a business for criminals from which too many in a position to stop it, turn their heads away for the right price. Human lives are not valued beyond how much they can be sold for, and they are considered both disposable and replaceable. It's disgusting. It's inhuman.

According to Do, "There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children."

Slaves. In the modern world! It's not always about brothels in some country you may never visit. Sometimes, it's happening next door. And far worse than dying in these conditions is the idea one might survive it, and have to live with the horror every day. These victims, who manage to get out, to get rescued, often can't even admit to their loved ones what happened. They bury it inside, stuff it into the darkest corners of their souls like the human psyche will do when it experiences trauma, but it is only one thought, one trigger away from destroying them. This was the case of a woman who told her story on Marie Claire, shared with me by Unite for Change. Cathy was taken at age 15, and spent the next four years being beaten, starved, terrorized, and raped. Read this story here:  The British Teenager Kept as a Slave in London for Four Years. This brought me to tears today.

The buying and selling of humans needs to end. We, the people, have the power to make that happen, but we must not allow ourselves to become complacent. We need to remain vigilant, and fearless! Never be afraid to speak out if you suspect someone is being abducted or held against their will. It's okay to be wrong. In fact, it's the preferred scenario, but if....just imagine if you are right? You might just save a life and put a sick, slime-bucket criminal behind bars. Isn't that worth it? So do for others what you would wish them to do for you. Be the hero. Be aware. Be there.

At the bottom of the Marie Claire article is a message for those affected by this information, and Cathy's story. 

If you’ve been affected by anything in this article, you can contact the Salvation Army confidentially on: 0300 3038151 or visit their website at



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