Ingrid Guerrero Rodriguez: Life After Trafficking
As I stare at the mother hugging her daughter, I realized that I would never know how much was stolen from me. My name is Ingrid Guerrero Rodriguez, I was subjected to physical, verbal, emotional and spiritual abuse for more than 25 years. I was raised in Mexico and became victim of human trafficking when a lady started indoctrinating my sisters and me and grooming us when we were kids so we would work without any compensation. She seemed godly and the nicest person everywhere but behind closed doors she would beat us with a wooden paddle, made us eat rotten food, work as slaves without rest, keep us in the garage, put us to sleep in the backyard as animals, and abuse us in a lot of different ways.
I never realized how much damage I had received until I was free 9 years ago, my survival instinct made me freeze any feeling to endure her punishments. It has been a long process in understanding who I am, what I feel and what I want. I struggle every day to find my own identity, I often question if any of my reactions are normal. Most of my childhood, my adolescence years and part of my adulthood was stolen, and I would never have it back.
The pain that’s inside me and I want to pull off my chest, would maybe never go away, but I am learning to function and live with it, I am learning to set new goals, I am learning that all the pain and abuse I lived is transforming me from a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly that is free to fly, I am learning to live my life to the fullest, I am learning to be the voice of all those that they never were able to be free and died as a caterpillar subjected to abuse and slavery, the voice of all those that are still in captivity.
While my emotional healing would be a lifelong process, I am working on pursuing some of my dreams, I graduated as Biomedical Engineering and currently I am pursuing a Ph.D. program in Bio-engineering. My ultimate career goal is to be able to innovate affordable solutions to current medical challenges, my interest lies in nano-medicine guided solutions for the treatment of diabetes and other chronic diseases.
In the personal perspective, I am learning to live one day at a time and enjoy every stage in my life. I am learning to relax and do things that I enjoy like traveling, reading, spending time with my sisters and their family, learning to take care of myself, I am learning to enjoy nature. Sometimes is not easy, I still feel a prisoner. There still so many aspects in our life that have not closure that is an open wound waiting to heal. But I know, eventually everything would fall into place.
One of my biggest dreams is to be able to open a non-profit that helps women, children and any human-being subjected to injustice and slavery to find their potential and pursue their dreams. I am very grateful for all those that fought for us to receive justice and I am glad to be able to be a part of the awareness movement against human-trafficking.
As a survivor, now I understand that I am not weak but strong because I endured all the pain and abuse and I am still alive. I am strong because even if is hard to accomplish my dreams I am still fighting to obtain them. As a survivor, now I understand that all the scars I have make me a better person to understand, to have empathy for others and putting myself in their shoes before coming into conclusions. As a survivor, I have concluded that the only way we can fight against in-humanity and cruelty is opening our eyes to look what is going on in our surroundings. As a survivor, I now understand that beauty comes from within, that beauty is kindness, respect, justice and the way we treat each other.
I am very grateful to Mosaic for providing me with the legal, counseling, emotional support during the prosecution case and for still providing me with the counseling service, that I would not be able to afford otherwise. Every single member of their team that I have the privilege to be in contact with have made an impact in my life and have been part of my healing. Thank you for making me feel heard and for doing your job with passion and compassion.
– Ingrid Guerrero Rodriguez
* We are thrilled to see Ingrid overcome so much in her life. Her strength and resilience is a testament to her character. She is an inspiration to our current survivors and staff!