Julie Whitehead

When it comes to recovery, I like to remind myself of the quote by Harvey MacKay which reads, “Nobody said life would be easy. They just promised it would most likely be worth it.”

I have been in therapy since 2015, and according to my primary therapist, I am somewhere in the middle of my treatment. I sometimes wonder if there’s an end. I guess I’ll be in some form of therapy for the rest of my life, and that’s ok. What I survived is deserving of a therapeutic life sentence, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that it…


Julie Whitehead

While married to my abusive ex-husband, I couldn’t really celebrate being a mother because my children and I always walked on eggshells and lived in fear. When I escaped his abuse, my trafficker immediately came into my life and it was impossible to celebrate anything while being terrorized. I then escaped my trafficker only to go into intensive therapy all the way across the country. I missed out on my fifth Mother’s Day in a row as I lived alone, missing my children. …


Julie Whitehead, Coco Berthmann, and Elizabeth Frazier

I had the honor of taking part of the inaugural Human Trafficking Policy and Education Summit last weekend in Logan, Utah, and I am immensely grateful for having had the opportunity.

The Summit was orchestrated beautifully and was filled with great insights from different points of view. I met so many people invested in the anti-trafficking cause and felt supported as a survivor while sharing my thoughts and my story.

I have no doubt this event provided an enormous amount of awareness and education, and I have great hope that those involved in positions of power and leadership will go…


Photo courtesy of OnWatch

Vulnerability

“The quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” — Oxford English Dictionary

Because life is not always smooth, or fair, we all find ourselves vulnerable at different times and for different reasons. For those with a good support system, vulnerable times can be a positive experience. It can make someone feel more human and more compassionate. These vulnerabilities, when shared with others, can actually strengthen a relationship. …


Photo courtesy of OnWatch

I woke up one night in the backseat of a car and could tell immediately that I had been drugged. I had no memory of getting into the vehicle and no memory of putting on the skimpy clothes I found myself wearing. My head was placed against the car window and the moon above me illuminated the landscape that appeared to be a desert. It took what felt like a long time to turn my head a tiny bit to look at the seat next to me. What I saw shocked me: two sets of small knees — children’s knees…


Photo courtesy of OnWatch

What does it mean to rescue someone from human trafficking? It means to save someone’s life. It may mean stepping out of your comfort zone and choosing to act instead of walking away, or it may be as simple as making one phone call to the National Human Trafficking Hotline because something looks wrong. While I was being trafficked, there were many times when onlookers walked away, but after months of encountering passive sympathizers, a hero finally stepped forward and saved my life.

Someone who walked away

One day, I jumped out of my trafficker’s truck after enduring an onslaught…


Photo courtesy of OnWatch

Too often, people confuse the fact that trafficking victims didn’t “just leave” their traffickers with the assumption that in some way, they wanted to stay. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

I wasn’t kidnapped and held hostage in the sense that you might think. I wasn’t taken on the first day and then returned five months later. I was allowed to come home in between “trips” but was told to keep up the appearance that I was just a normal mother of three. Although there was never a day I didn’t communicate with my trafficker, there were several days…


Julie Whitehead

I had the incredible opportunity to be on set for the filming of the OnWatch training module based on my story. OnWatch shares survivors’ experiences to educate people on the signs of trafficking and what action to take when they see it.

At the video shoot, I appreciated so much that the production crew wanted to portray the events how they really happened. They were very committed to getting it right. I met the actress who played me. She was open to feedback and insight to help her act in a way that best represented what I went through. I…


Julie Whitehead
Julie Whitehead
Julie Whitehead

I was a 30-year-old mother of three young children. I volunteered in their classrooms and with the local PTA. I appeared to be just a normal member of society, but things were much different behind closed doors. Ultimately, my husband was arrested for domestic violence and due to his isolating tactics and relentless control, I found myself without a support network.

I was teaching at a Utah preschool and a father of one of my students began taking an interest in me, asking me if I was OK and if things were all right at home. I found myself opening…

Julie Whitehead

Survivor | Mom, wife, advocate for survivors of abuse and sex trafficking.

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