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AMA - FORMER KIDNAP VICTIM : I just published a book and I'm starting a National Charity to save others from human trafficking.

Amanda Blackwood
Jan 9, 2018

My event is based on bringing together the community of redheads in the state of Colorado but will include redheads from all over the world.  It will be a non-profit event focused on raising money to rescue children from sex trafficking.  The cause is very important to me because I am a kidnap survivor.  Redheads draw a premium price on the black market.  I was lucky to escape, but I left several other victims behind.  I've made it my personal mission to return for them finally.  My goal is to save 100 children for each victim I left behind when I escaped.  Once I reach that goal, I'll set another that people will tell me is impossible, and I'll prove them wrong. The event will be held on July 14th next summer and the location has yet to be determined, but talks are under way.  I'm expecting a turnout of 2,000 to 3,000 redheads and their families.

I vow to never stop this mission until I find the girls I left behind.  But many victims are never found.  

I realize this likely means I'll never stop.

I just recently published a book on Amazon about my kidnapping, all told by me from my own perspective.  Have you ever wondered what it's like to be face to face with Death himself?  Let me show you what that feels like... 

Delux edition

Basic Edition

"Detailed Pieces of a Shattered Dream" on Kindle

I'm a former model (and current Pinup model) as well as a Pinup Chef here in Denver.  I work seven jobs and I'm still working on putting this charity together.  I'm looking for volunteers in all aspects, and this charity is expanding to other parts of the nation! We just opened a chapter in Texas and are in talks with people in Florida and Louisiana!

Sorry for all the confusing time changes.  I'm not used to things not automatically setting to my time zone. It's weird having to think in time zones again.  Haven't had to do that since I was a flight attendant.  I double booked myself for this evening, so I might get to some questions later than planned (the ones asked after 6:30 mountain time most likely) but they will all be answered before the end of the night.  Be patient with me, I will answer ALL of you!I've been getting some really great questions so far, so keep it going! 

Crowned "Miss Colfax" for the month of December, 2017

The Colfax museum is one of our biggest supporters!

The official "Author" photo from my book.

Amanda Blackwood says:

If there are more than 100 questions to this AMA I will do another toward the end of the month!


Amanda Blackwood says:

This AMA will end Jan 16, 2018 8:30PM EST

Sorry for all the confusing time changes.  I'm not used to things not automatically setting to my time zone. It's weird having to think in time zones again.  Haven't had to do that since I was a flight attendant.  I double booked myself for this evening, so I might get to some questions later than planned (the ones asked after 6:30 mountain time most likely) but they will all be answered before the end of the night.  Be patient with me, I will answer ALL of you!I've been getting some really great questions so far, so keep it going! 

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Do you think technology and media are playing a role in trafficking by glorifying and making  prostitution for example look fun (think movies like Pretty Woman) and making it much easier to lose control over what your kids are doing online, making them easy targets to give a few examples?

Jan 10, 8:27AM EST0

Absolutely! A few other AMA members have asked similar questions and I've gone into depth several times about technology causing major problems and making it entirely too easy for traffickers to manipulate, manage and prostitute their victims.  Parent's should NOT be losing control over what the kids do though.  That's lazy parenting.  Sadly, that's the society we live in.  Parents don't want to be parents, they want to be friends.  They need to be a leader of the family, not an equal.  

Movies like Pretty Woman certainly don't help things, I will admit.  Far too many young and impressional girls think they'll meet a millionaire if all they do is become a prostitute - legal or not - and end up turning to a life of drugs to numb the pain.  Sadly, the ones who resort to that way of thinking are often taught at a young age by family or peers that the greatest value they have on earth is the use of their bodies.  

Jan 10, 11:49AM EST1

In terms of laws, do you think there are changes that need to be made to prevent human trafficking and to better protect and support potential and existing victims?

Jan 10, 12:03AM EST0

ABSOLUTELY!!!!The human marketing industry wouldn't be nearly what it is today if there were better laws in place and more incentive to find the traffickers.  I have a lot of people who come to the defense of the pimps and traffickers or who want to claim I'm not telling the truth about my own backstory.  It makes me wonder what their motives are, and if they might be who we are looking for in the first place. 

These crimes should be treated as harshly as murder, in my mind.  Not only do they commit horrible, unspeakable acts on living human beings, but they (in many cases) strip them of what it means to be an individual. They take away their intire lives.  Sometimes those with the greatest potential have it stripped from them. Little girls with dreams of being astrophysicists are reduced to drug addicts and prostitutes in a foreign land.  Little boys who dreamed of being a US President are left holding their teddy bears on the street to see who's more interested in young boys than little girls.  These lives are destroyed. Their families lives in most cases are destroyed.  They're left as tortured souls where hope no longer remains.  That to me can be more cruel than a quick death. 

Trafficking is a major issue, and until society as a whole starts to realize that and treat it as such, it will continue to be a problem.

People complain of the homeless population here in the states.  Did you know that 90% of homeless youths are victims of human trafficking?  The statistics are horrible.  But as they say, one death is a tragedy, but a million is a statistic.  That's why I told my story.  One victim is a tragedy.  One victim can lend a voice to the horrors.  A million simply cry out into the darkness, largely unheard and ignored.  It's time we change that.  It's time people speak up.  It's time the laws change and we hold people accountable for inhumane cruelty to their fellow mankind.

Jan 10, 1:51AM EST0

Do you work with other established organisations that fight human trafficking? Why did you chose to do something of your own as opposed to join forces with them? 

Jan 9, 8:54PM EST0

I'm planning to look into other local charities for a possible combined effort, but the entire idea of RedheadsUnite! was born because nobody else was doing it.  There's a group in the Netherlands who put on a Redhead convention every year, but nothing like it in the states, and the few that I've found who have any redhead events at all aren't focused on this kind of a charity.  I knew nobody else was going to do it, so I did it. I found a reason to bring people together, a reason for people to pay attention, and I gave it an even better reason to exist.

The money goes to Operation Underground Railroad, a well established 501c3 organization founded by Navy Seals and CIA agents who got tired of leaving the kids behind.  They left their careers to start working with foreign governments to actually do the work, not just talk about doing the work.  I knew from the day I met their founder in 2015 that I needed to help fund some of their missions in whatever way I could.  I knew they were expensive missions, and I knew it would take something big to get it done.  So, the idea was born of others asking why they couldn't have what everyone else had, and my own backstory of wanting to help save those who haven't been saved. 

Jan 10, 1:39AM EST0
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Could you describe what happened in few short paragraphs? I would really like to get your book, just want to get a better idea of the story. TIA.

Jan 9, 8:01PM EST0

I think I can do that for you.

Basically I was a 19 year old kid wanting to escape from a bad situation I'd put myself into, only things continually got worse.  I went from being in a marriage with a much older man I didn't love to being left on the streets by my family.   I refused to give up and I found a place to stay that helped me to keep off the streets.  I thought I was safe, but again things went from bad to worse.  It was supposedly a friend of a friend who offered to help me better my circumstances - he turned out to be my kidnapper.  I was a 19 year old little girl.  I had almost no strength in me and even less confidence in myself.  Thankfully, I watched a lot of MacGyver growing up.  I managed to think my way out. 

I left behind 5 or 6 other girls I could never see, but could certainly hear as they screamed, just like I had been.  I regretted it then, and I still regret it today, but I also know that if I had gone back I probably wouldnt be alive now.  It's now my mission to go back for them.  This book is just the begining of how I'm going to make that happen.

Last edited @ Jan 9, 8:27PM EST.
Jan 9, 8:06PM EST0
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I'm here and ready for your live questions!  Fire away, if I don't know an answer, I'll find the answer for you!

Jan 9, 7:29PM EST0

Love your answers so far, thanks for sharing!

Jan 9, 7:44PM EST0

Thank you so much, Ms Wright!  That's very much appreciated.  It's really great to see this much interest in this particular subject material. 

Jan 9, 7:45PM EST0

Do you also have plans of expanding this internationally?

Jan 9, 3:48AM EST0

I have plans of taking this organization globally as time and volunteer efforts permit.  It might be a few years before something like that happens, but I said the same thing about expanding to other states and I just opened a chapter in Texas with other states already calling in interest of doing the same.  The charity has taken on a life of its own, all I can do is help the momentum and try my best to keep up.  Thankfully I'm pretty organized and have a ton of ideas.  Let's hope the momentum keeps going, I'd like to see this as a global organization by 2020 if it's possible.  

Jan 9, 11:08AM EST0

How safe are we from these sexual predators?

Jan 9, 3:45AM EST0

There are so many different answers to that question.  It all depends on where we find ourselves daily.  There are some places where it's common for parents to sell their own children into human trafficking to pay off debts or keep themselves out of prison.  While that isn't all too common here in the States, it does still happen.  We aren't as bad off as some South American countries or even African nations, but we are certainly not immune.  

The human trafficking industry reports fluxuate wildly.  Some report that it's a 3.2 billion dollar a year industry while others report it's a 150 billion a year industry.  But the fact remains that it's a very real problem and truly a massive danger.  

We aren't as safe as we would like to think.  We're nowhere near as safe as we like to pretend.  That's mainly because of people not wanting to pay attention or admit it happens.  It's been more widely talked about in the past ten years so that's been a huge help, but it's not been talked about enough!  

If our school systems can offer sex education to kids in grade school, why aren't we teaching them about the predators that might cause them to need sex education if they aren't careful?  It's a much bigger problem than just teaching "stranger danger" these days.  Social media makes it all too easy for predators to find their next victims, simply by being a wolf in sheeps clothing.  Next time you see a 15 or 16 year old kid on Facebook or instagram or even twitter, ask yourself how you know that's actually a 15 or 16 year old kid?  Where's the proof?  I'll tell you - unless you meet that kid, there is no proof at all.  And these are the 'kids' our youth have decided to befriend on the internet.  

Education is key.  If you have kids, take them to events like Redheads Unite! so that they might learn how to look out for predators, what it means to be safe, how unsafe social media really is and what to do if they are in a bad situation.   Introduce them to the local police department.  Teach them where to go if they get lost and don't have a cell phone with them.  Show them how to operate within life without having a smartphone to depend on all the time.  Would your kids know how to find the fire department or police station without a phone?  Do they know what neighbor to go to if something happens near home?  These lost arts of raising children have been lost with social media dependency and it's made things so much easier for the predators.  There's a false sense of security with pocket phones.  But a pocket phone can be broken, taken away, lost, misplaced, stolen - and what then?  And, by all means, keep these things in mind for yourself and the adults in your life as well.  Would you know the quickest route to the police station right this second from wherever you are without using a smart phone or gps?  Most people, if they've moved within the past decade, would answer honestly in the negative.  

Last edited @ Jan 9, 11:27AM EST.
Jan 9, 11:26AM EST0
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Where did you learn how to cook?

Jan 8, 10:01PM EST0

I actually learned how to cook out of self-defense. My parents used to go out to dinner a lot and we were left at home with Marie calendars chicken pot pies in a freezer, sometimes for days and weeks on end. Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore so I started learning how to cook by teaching myself. I started out simply enough with things like chocolate chip cookie dough without the chocolate chips and macaroni and cheese, but I quickly started to learn how to experiment with different spices. Before I knew it, I had come up with several recipes of my own. It’s amazing what you can do when you are poor and imaginative.

Jan 9, 1:48AM EST0

When was Redhead Unite established and can you share to us your accomplishments and success stories?

Jan 8, 8:44AM EST0

Redheads Unite! was established as an LLC on Sunday! That's right, it's a pretty new company, but it's a REAL company and my dream has been realized. But I didn't know this was a dream of mine until I started down this path.

I kept seeing in all these redhead groups I was a member of that people were complaining that there were no redhead meet ups in the United States. They have them all over the world, but nothing right here! I, like everyone else, kept wondering why that was, and when would someone step up to do something like this. Finally I realized, I was someone. I figured it couldn't be THAT hard, right? Boy was I wrong. It's a challenge. It takes a lot of planning and hard work and labor and time. It takes thought and effort and coordinating and planning.

Originally it was just going to be a meet up of Redheads in Colorado, and it was doing better than I thought it would. People were actually interested in coming to the event! I needed to figure something out and get stuff together. I suddenly realized that I could do a LOT of good in the world if every penny made from the event went to helping other people who'd been through something like I had been. Those who were still stuck in it. The ones I left behind.

At that point I realized it was truly a dream of mine - to go back for those other girls. To fight for them. THAT was when the whole idea was TRULY born. Now it isn't just some fun meetup where I'm going to have a few redheads from the state of Colorado, but people will be flying in from all over the country to help and to participate in this event.

Now we've expanded into Texas and there are talks of several other states following suit. I've started what can only be described as a national movement, and it's still young. It will get bigger. It will eventually take over my entire life, I'm sure. And it will be amazing.

I'll probably be doing this for the rest of my life, and this is the first time I've ever said that about anything but my writing.

Jan 8, 11:59AM EST0
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How about the Modeling job, who influenced you to join or try modeling?

Jan 8, 5:45AM EST0

Actually, as odd as it is, my mother.  

I grew up with her constantly telling me that she wished I was prettier, or that I didn't look as much like my Aunt Debbie, who she concidered to be 'homely' but that I was simply just too much like my childhood hero Judy Garland.  In her own words,  I had some redeemable features, but my looks were not one of them.  She always saw Judy Garland the same way.

When I was a teenager we were shopping on the military base for some back to school clothes when my mother spotted a sign on the entrance that said they were looking for models for the Back to School fashion show.  She'd used what little money we had to replace a broken washing machine, so I think the idea of the discounted (or free, I don't remember) outfit in exchange for modeling was more than a little intriguing to her.  

I was still painfully shy but she marched me up to the door in the back of the store and paraded me around in a circle to have the coordinator for the fashion show look me over like a piece of cattle at the market.  The coordinator nodded approval, and seemed excited about my participation.  We had a couple dress rehersals and suddenly I found myself marching down a runway on a military base showing off some plaid capri pants and a green sweater (imagine that, putting a redhead in green).  

I didn't model again for SEVERAL years and my self esteem was basically in the toilet. I'd had a few random strangers tell me I was pretty but I never took it seriously. Finally, at 24 years old I made friends with an actress named Lindsay who was approached by a photographer. She told him that she had plenty of headshots but that I was wanting to be a model. Really, I wasn't. I didn't think there was any hope for someone like me to ever be a model. I was too plain. But he took the bait, contacted me, and the rest is history. The biggest name I ever modeled for was Harley Davidson when I was 26 years old, and here I am nearly 40, still modeling. It's a strange idea to me. I thought I was too old many years ago, and for a lot of modeling I am too old. But Denver is another beast. I'm not in LA anymore.

It started with the opposite of a supportive mother.

It continued with an actress.

It was brought to life by a photographer (Jack Fleming)

It was encouraged by Harley Davidson

It ended when I felt too old.

It was revived by Colorado.

But always, my biggest supporter had to always be me. I kept telling myself that if I didn't believe in me, who would? And I'd never know if I never tried. 

Last edited @ Jan 8, 1:27PM EST.
Jan 8, 11:32AM EST0
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Can you tell us more about Operation Underground Railroad?

Jan 7, 11:03PM EST0

I'd be happy to do so!

Operation Underground Railroad was founded by a man by the name of Tim Ballard.  He was a Navy Seal who traveled around the world catching bad guys for the US Government.  Time and again when he would finish a mission, a child would come to him begging to be taken away from the Hell they'd been living in.  Most of them were victims of human trafficking.  Tim said he wanted badly to help those children, and looking into their eyes just about killed him when he would tell them that he couldn't, but that he'd be back for them.  All too often the foregin governments wouldn't allow him to do so because he was working for the US Government.  So this man, Tim Ballard, left his very respectable carreer as a Navy Seal - the elite, the best of the best - to start his own organization that would work closely with ALL governments in order to help take down those traffickers and rescue (and reabilitate) the children involved.  Operation Underground Railroad is founded on Christian principals and believes whole heartedly that the mission doesn't end just because someone has been pulled out of a bad place. 

I'm very hopeful to have some of their people come speak at the event, and with any luck, Mr Ballard himself.  I'll keep my fingers crossed, most certainly. 

Most of what I know about Mr. Ballard was from his own mouth at a 5k run I participated in back in 2015.  He spent some time talking with me that day after he found out I was a former victim.  He knew then that I wanted to go back for the others. Additional information about O.U.R. can be found on their website at this link:http://ourrescue.org/about

Last edited @ Jan 7, 11:20PM EST.
Jan 7, 11:20PM EST0

Your strength, courage and articulation are evident throughout your writings about your story. What advice would you give someone to begin telling their own story as a means of healing?

Jan 7, 10:57PM EST0

First, I would tell them it's not easy.  Telling a story like this never is, no matter what form of abuse has happened and from whom.  Expect to have people closest to you (blood relatives mainly) not believe you.  But understand that you aren't writing it for them.  You are writing it for you.  If nobody else on earth ever reads it and you burn it the second you complete your writing, then so be it.  That's what finally got me through mine.  I wasn't sure I'd ever get through it.  I failed several times in my attempt. 

Second of all, be patient with yourself.  Don't expect it to be easy.  If it's easy, you're not telling it like it happened but rather skimming over the bad stuff.  The bad stuff is what you need to purge from your system.  The only way you'll ever get it out of your system is to physically get it out of you in a way that is very concrete.  Telling your story to a couselor is helpful for some, but for me I couldn't get any help from anywhere until I was able to describe the horrors I lived through, from the sights to the smells to the feeling of the flea bites on my legs, the carpet tacks in the bottoms of my feet and the blade of the knife on my throat.  And of course the kidnapping happened after that.

Third, baby steps.  I spent weeks and possibly months trying to get my story out.  The hardest part for me was in the editing process.  First I had to put myself into the situation every single time I had to sit down to write it.  I had to relive that moment every singe time I wrote a single word.  Over and over I faced my attackers and looked into their eyes.  That old hatred boiled over in me again and again.  I sat there sobbing, sometimes for hours on end, just from writing a single paragraph. Then, once all the paragraphs were finally put together in one place, I had the daunting task of reading through the entire thing to see if I missed any details or if anything was explained in a way that didn't make sense.  It was a project of insanity.

Fourth, expect to question yourself.  Many times I would sit down to write it and would ask myself why I was bothering.  But I knew that I had made a commitment and I needed to see it through no matter how uncomfortable it made me.  It was a measure of who I was and what I was really made of.  I knew I had to get it out.  I knew it would help me to write it.  I hoped it would help me, and it actually did. 

If I hadn't written my story, I never would have had the courage to speak up about what happened, which means I wouldn't have started my charity, and in turn that means I wouldn't have met some of the greatest people I've ever met in my life - my volunteers, who have become so much more than that.  Some of my volunteers have become my best friend and family.  I couldn't imagine NOT having them in my life now.

Your strength is greater than you know.  You will find the courage to continue once you start.  Just remember that it is YOU the story is being written for.  It's for nobody but you.  What you do with it once you're done is entirely up to you.

Jan 7, 11:35PM EST1
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To assault victims or rape survivors out there, what message of encouragement would you like to share to them?

Jan 7, 9:57PM EST0

Very simply put, four words.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

I felt so isolated and alone when I got out of there.  I had no idea what kind of a life I would have after something like that had happened to me.  I was horrified.  I felt like a monster, like I'd never be clean or even OK ever again.  I wish more people felt safe speaking up about assault or rape, and maybe with time there will be a better platform to do so, but to search out and find a support group is a HUGE step in the right direction.  That was something I didn't know existed at the time.  They are charitable organizations so they're free to attend, just like Alcoholics Anonymous and cancer groups, and more information can be found at just about any hospital or police station - and the will never judge someone for sending a friend in to ask for the information for them.  There are TON of rape counselors available.  If you or someone you know is a survivor of rape or assault, please urge them to find someone to talk to. I didn't have that and it caused a lot of issues for me with relationships.  I'm still very distrustful of people for good reason, and that's something I battle with.  So does my poor boyfriend.  I'm lucky he's so patient. 

Last edited @ Jan 8, 12:06AM EST.
Jan 7, 11:24PM EST0

How do you get to manage the seven jobs and look after the charity?

Jan 7, 9:46PM EST0

I'm only able to keep up because my weeks are structured to be fairly uniform. A day off means only working 8 hours, unless it's Sunday. That's right, I work 7 jobs and still manage to take a day off every week. Well, almost every week. Once in a while I'll make an acception to that rule if I need a bit of extra cash for something in particular.

Monday through Friday I do work a 9-5 office job. Right now is the slow season, which allows me much more time to work on my own projects during office hours. Don't tell the boss. (Actually, I'm pretty sure they're aware.)

Monday after work I film my web series in the kitchen, or I was until the videographer moved on to another project. So for now, I deliver for GrubHub and UberEats instead. Tuesdays after work I work at Amazon from 7:30pm to sometimes past midnight. Often this means taking a nap in my car at Amazon before my shift starts. Obviously not today. Wednesdays are like Tuesdays, with Amazon on my schedule from 7:30om to sometimes past midnight. Thursdays are often my "me" time, but I usually use them to coordinate with my photographers and volunteers, often deliver for Grubhub, and prepare for my studio class on Fridays.

Fridays after work I teach a studio cooking class (or will be now that the holidays are over! My first one for the year will be THIS friday. Wish me luck!) I'm often in the studio until 10pm or 11pm at night. Then I drive home, pass out and get a couple hours sleep.

Saturdays I work at Amazon from 4am to 1pm usually, but Amazon is only seasonal. After 1pm is when I schedule other things, like Grubhub shifts, modeling photoshoots, charity fundraisers, that sort of thing.

If you've been keeping up with the number of jobs so far, great! Because I haven't. I think I lost count somewhere. But what about Sunday? I did mention that I don't work on Sundays. That's actually true - sort of. Sundays I go to church in Broomfield, it's the Calvary Chapel. Until just recently my pastor was the infamous Richie Furay of Buffalo Springfield, though he's just Richie to me. Really great guy. But I'm rather close to the audio engineer for our church and he's teaching me how to run the show! It's really exciting for me to learn how to do that, and while it's not something I get paid for, I do count it on the list of jobs.

My life runs like a well maintained Swiss watch. I'm never late for anything, I have something significant every five minutes, and my battery never seems to run down.

But I'm secretly an introvert, which means my alone time is very precious. There isn't enough of it, certainly. However, nobody else is going to pay my bills for me, and that divorce lawyer was expensive!

Last edited @ Jan 9, 7:41PM EST.
Jan 7, 11:25PM EST0

You have a very good cause and sex trafficking not just on children is an alarming issue,what preemptive measures can parents do to keep their children safe?

Jan 7, 11:35AM EST0

Thank you!  My cause has actually made some people very angry so that's rather reassuring to see.  The event I'm putting together is called "Redheads Unite" and they think it should only be about redheads, and they don't care where the money goes after they purchase tickets and spend money on souvenirs.  It's very weird to me. 

I think education is key in all aspects of life.  If a child grows up in a sheltered home, they might never experience some of the amazing gifts life has to offer!  Likewise, as was my own case, I grew up with almost overly protective parents who wouldn't let me spend the night at anyone's house, or even go inside a friends home until I was well into my teens.  Friends were rarely ever allowed into my own home also. I was taught to keep all people at arms length and to trust nobody.  Yet I still found myself in this situation.  You see, I knew the basics about "stranger danger" but I didn't have enough information or experience in life to make mature decisions when faced with some very difficult choices.  I was left to fend for myself on the streets of a strange city with nothing to my name.  I'd say having open communication with children is paramount in situations like this.  I had nobody I could turn to, including and especially my own family. 

Education is key, but so is making our children feel safe and protected, not demonized.  I felt like I could do nothing right growing up, so when I was a young adult, I hadn't had enough good experiences to make good choices.  I did the best I could with what I had.  That's not enough.

Had I known a closer relationship with my mother or father, I'd probably have been able to go to them more for advice before ever being in that situation.

Talk to your kids.  Educate your kids.  They need to know you'll be there for them.  And - above all else - make sure you are.

Jan 7, 9:08PM EST0

Do you think in a way our society lacks tight measures or laws surrounding these issues on sex offenders, sex trafficking, white slavery or kidnapping that predators continue to freely haunt new victims?

Jan 7, 9:35AM EST0

I do very much believe that we need more strictly enforced laws regarding human trafficking, sex trafficking in particular.  There have been some controversial state measures passed in recent years making it easier for underage prostitutes to contact the authorities, so the claims go.  Underage prostitution is no longer a felony in some states.  This of course means that the pimps and traffickers have a much easier time putting their victims on the streets without fear of them getting nabbed.  The trafficking victims live in fear of their handlers, no matter what title they prefer to go by; trafficker, pimp, monster... it's all the same to me.  Many of them are 'branded' or scarred for life.  Many have been forced to take drugs, and once the dependency starts, they fear the authorities.  Those laws don't make it easier for the trafficked victims to report their handlers, they make it easier for the handlers to remain in business.  THAT needs to end!  I firmly belive the handlers/traffickers/pimps/monsters of our society should pay a harsher penalty for trafficking offenses.   Longer prison sentences and monetary compensation to the victims.

Jan 7, 9:39PM EST0

Your character and your strength is an inspiration, but if you could go back and relive those moments in the past what would you have done? What would you tell yourself?

Jan 7, 8:18AM EST0

You are far too kind.  I remained mostly silent for 18 years.  No part of me can ever call that strength or inspirational.  It's only after all these years that I'm able to speak up because the nightmares have haunted me long enough and I must put my conscience to rest.  The screams I heard behind me as I fled from the others begging for help still haunt me. 

I would probably tell myself to run when I felt the urge to do so.  If you read the book, you'll come across one part in particular where I was standing outside of a door looking at a red couch that would become my place of captivity in just a moment's time.  I'd tell myself to run then.  Or I'd tell myself to run when I was first introduced to the man who would be my kidnapper.  Or I would tell myself to run when I first found myself stranded in Daytona Beach, Florida.  I had a million opportunities to run away and stop trying so hard to prove to myself that I could make it on my own.  I didn't.  That's something I'd probably tell myself. 

But I would also be wrong to do so.  It would be selfish of me.  I never would have known that such a thing existed had I not lived through it.  Eighteen years ago our nation wasn't ready to hear the truth about human trafficking.  In a lot of ways it still isn't.  But if my story can do anything other than haunt me, I want it to do some good.  Nobody else can ever use me for anything ever again - But I can certainly use me to help someone else.

The dedication in my book reads as follows:

"This book is dedicated to the victims I left behind...        ...I'm coming back for you."

Jan 7, 11:13PM EST0

Is there anger and hatred left in you for all those people who have hurt you and took advantage of you? Can you say that you have forgiven them? Why or why not?

Jan 7, 6:56AM EST0

I'd love to say that I've forgiven everyone completely.  I'd love to, but I can't. It's a strange thing for me, the idea of forgiveness.  I believe you can forgive the person but not the act. 

I forgave my grandmother for leaving me on the streets the way she did after promising to me that she'd always have room for me.  All she had to do was ask.  But I never forgave the action.

I forgave my parents for refusing any assistance at all, and for telling me once I escape that I had "made my own bed" and that I needed to lay in it.  I forgave them because I loved them.  But I didn't forgive the action of calling me a liar when I tried to tell them what I'd been through.  To the best of my knowledge, they still don't believe me. 

But to forgive Adam or Esteban is beyond me yet.  I can't say that I've forgiven them though I've certainly tried.  I think more than anything I've tried to forget that they were human beings, because human beings wouldn't do that to one another.  Instead, I tell myself that there is  nothing to forgive.  They were animals.  Beast.  They were monsters.  All I can do is live on in spite of them.  I don't forgive them, but I also don't hate them, if that makes sense.

Out of everything, the person I had to learn to forgive was actually myself, and that was a massive challenge.  I left those other girls behind when I escaped.  I never forgave myself for that.  I just ran away. I didn't even try to go back for them.  I just ran.  That's a hard thing to live with.  But now I'm finally going back, which means I've finally earned my own forgiveness. 

I grew up with a rewards system.  If I get anything at all worth having, it must be earned.  I can't just have something because I want it.  That's not the way it's ever worked for me.  It's unhealthy and I plan to seek couseling for that (and other issues of course). But I couldn't forgive myself until I gave myself a reason to.  I didn't realize that until I started this charity. 

Adam and Esteban?  No, not quite yet.  Maybe someday.  But not yet. 

Jan 8, 12:04AM EST0

Your story is heartbreaking. How did this whole experience change you and your outlook in life?

Jan 7, 6:55AM EST0

Thank you, I do appreciate your kindness.  You're right, this has completely changed my entire outlook on life, but probably not in the way you expect.

I LOVE LIFE!  I was a doormat, always willing to do what everyone else wanted to do, never having an opinion of my own, just wanting someone - anyone - to love me.  Then when things got too hard for me to handle because I couldn't figure out how to tell someone that I actually didn't like my eggs the way they did, I just didn't want to be a bother, I'd run away.  If you've ever seen the movie "Runaway Bride" that probably makes more sense to you. 

I'm no longer a doormat.  I stand up for myself.  Nobody hits me.  Nobody abuses me.  I won't let anyone manipulate me, emotionally or physically or mentally.  If anyone tries, they better stand back and look out, because they'll find out what all those stories about Redheads really mean!  I am strong, determined and smart, but I'm also wary and I've studied several different forms of martial arts.  I certainly know how to defend myself if I'm ever in a situation where I need to, but I also know how to not let myself get into that situation again.  That's pretty handy knowledge.

Where would I be if I hadn't gone through this?  I'd probably be still living in a small town in Arkansas, earning my living as a waitress in a bbq restaurant, married to someone I didn't love and putting up with whatever abuse came my way because I'd likely think that I deserved it.   That's certainly not who I am. That's not who anyone should be.  I'm only sad that it took a tragedy to snap me out of it.  For so many others, it takes something like the attack on me to cause them to feel the exact opposite as I do.  That's what I want to help prevent as much as possible.

Jan 7, 11:56PM EST0

How long did it take you to write the book Detailed Pieces of a Shattered Dream?

Jan 7, 4:24AM EST0

I spent weeks and possibly months trying to get my story out. The hardest part for me was in the editing process. First I had to put myself into the situation every single time I had to sit down to write it. I had to relive that moment every singe time I wrote a single word. Over and over I faced my attackers and looked into their eyes. That old hatred boiled over in me again and again. I sat there sobbing, sometimes for hours on end, just from writing a single paragraph. Then, once all the paragraphs were finally put together in one place, I had the daunting task of reading through the entire thing to see if I missed any details or if anything was explained in a way that didn't make sense. It was a project of insanity. Many times I would sit down to write it and would ask myself why I was bothering. But I knew that I had made a commitment and I needed to see it through no matter how uncomfortable it made me. It was a measure of who I was and what I was really made of. The day I completed the final sentence I felt this massive weight lift off my shoulders and disappear.

Jan 7, 11:37PM EST0

Your story on Facebook makes one realize how lucky they are that they have not been through what you have been through. After all these years, can you say that you can pretty much judge a character when you meet a person?

Jan 7, 3:34AM EST0

To a degree, yes.  I try desperately NOT to judge people right away because I'm often proven wrong.  Sometimes I think to myself that someone is trustworthy and dependable, worthy of my time.  It's a heartbreaker when they turn out to be flaky and unimaginably non-committal when they agree to something they have no intention of seeing through.  Sadly that happens a lot when you're dealing with a charity organization.  But on the other end of that spectrum, I've met a few people that I instantly didn't like who have turned out to be some of my greatest friends, who would do just about anything for me and have never let me down in any way. 

Take it from this author, you can't judge a book by it's cover.

Jan 7, 11:43PM EST1
Show all 3 replies

Do you have a separate blog site where your fans can follow you?

Jan 7, 2:45AM EST0

In fact I do!  I have several!  My main blog was started many years ago now, and this story was originally on my blog. It's since been removed now that I've written the book (no sense in cheating with the cliff notes, you know) but there are still a great many other stories over there.  At one time I wrote just about daily, and at the end of a year I had 365 blog entries posted.  That was of course quite strenuous so I slowed down a bit on my writing after then, and I don't post on it nearly all that much these days since I'm focusing more on writing my books instead of my blurbs, but please feel free to check it out anytime you like. 

ladyblackwood.blogspot.com

Jan 7, 11:40PM EST0

What is your typical day like?

Jan 7, 12:17AM EST0

In a word: BUSY!

I'm only able to keep up because my weeks are structured to be fairly uniform.  A day off means only working 8 hours, unless it's Sunday.  That's right, I work 7 jobs and still manage to take a day off every week.  Well, almost every week. Once in a while I'll make an acception to that rule if I need a bit of extra cash for something in particular. 

Monday through Friday I do work a 9-5 office job. Right now is the slow season, which allows me much more time to work on my own projects during office hours.  Don't tell the boss.  (Actually, I'm pretty sure they're aware.) 

Monday after work I film my web series in the kitchen, or I was until the videographer moved on to another project.  So for now, I deliver for GrubHub and UberEats instead.  Tuesdays after work I work at Amazon from 7:30pm to sometimes past midnight.  Often this means taking a nap in my car at Amazon before my shift starts. Obviously not today.  Wednesdays are like Tuesdays, with Amazon on my schedule from 7:30om to sometimes past midnight.  Thursdays are often my "me" time, but I usually use them to coordinate with my photographers and volunteers, often deliver for Grubhub, and prepare for my studio class on Fridays.

Fridays after work I teach a studio cooking class (or will be now that the holidays are over!  My first one for the year will be THIS friday. Wish me luck!) I'm often in the studio until 10pm or 11pm at night.  Then I drive home, pass out and get a couple hours sleep. 

Saturdays I work at Amazon from 4am to 1pm usually, but Amazon is only seasonal.  After 1pm is when I schedule other things, like Grubhub shifts, modeling photoshoots, charity fundraisers, that sort of thing. 

If you've been keeping up with the number of jobs so far, great! Because I haven't.  I think I lost count somewhere.  But what about Sunday?  I did mention that I don't work on Sundays.  That's actually true - sort of.  Sundays I go to church in Broomfield, it's the Calvary Chapel.  Until just recently my pastor was the infamous Richie Furay of Buffalo Springfield, though he's just Richie to me.  Really great guy.  But my boyfriend is the audio engineer for our church and he's teaching me how to run the show! It's really exciting for me to learn how to do that, and while it's not something I get paid for, I do count it on the list of jobs. 

My life runs like a well maintained Swiss watch.  I'm never late for anything, I have something significant every five minutes, and my battery never seems to run down. 

But I'm secretly an introvert, which means my alone time is very precious. There isn't enough of it, certainly.  However, nobody else is going to pay my bills for me, and that divorce lawyer was expensive! 

Jan 7, 1:33AM EST0

As an author, what can we expect from you in the coming years? Will there be a follow up book?

Jan 7, 12:01AM EST0

There will absolutely be a follow up book!  Before the end of the year I'll publish a photography book.  I'm colaborating with photographers all over the nation to create a book on the beauty of natural redheads.  We are organizing photo shoots coast to coast.  You can find out a lot more about this project on my website.

Check Out The Book Project

If you can't tell from the length of my responses here on AMA so far,  I'm also a rather prolific writer.  I plan to write at LEAST a book a year, even while balancing such a busy life and running this organization.  I have many titles and first chapters started, from fiction to non-fiction, from a children's series or two, to several ideas for SyFy. It's never ending for me, and I can't seem to turn my brain off unless I've been able to express myself creatively in some way during the day.  Otherwise my imagination takes revenge on me while I'm sleeping.  ;)

Last edited @ Jan 7, 1:34AM EST.
Jan 7, 1:20AM EST0

How do you get to balance work and family life?

Jan 6, 5:12PM EST0

Oh, man.  This is probably the hardest question I will get.  I'll start with "What family?"

I'm divorced, so there's no husband to worry about. I do have an amazingly supportive boyfriend whom I adore, and we see one another as often as possible.  Sometimes that consists of seeing one another on Sundays at church and watching movies afterward, and other times it means we get to see one another almost every night of the week if we plan things in advance.  He's really quite understanding about it all.  He knows how important it is for me to keep busy and to work so much in order to pay my bills on time.  As for the other aspects of the word "family" when it pertains to siblings and parents, I don't really have that in my life.  If you ever get a chance to read my book, you'll find that it was actually my family who left me on the streets when I was kidnapped.  Afterward they didn't believe me when I told them of what I'd been through.  Finally, I had to let them go.  I couldn't keep trying to have some sort of a healthy relationship with them when 90% of what they ever said to me was deeply hurtful or accuisational.  I miss them terribly and I will always love them very much, but they aren't in my life and that was a difficult decision to make.So I guess the short answer would be that I don't really have to balance work and family life since I don't really have a family.  I have friends I've addopted into my own personal family, and quite a few of them have become heavily involved in my charity so I actually work closely with them.  My operations director lives in California but I've known him for 15 years now.  It's a great excuse for us to keep in far more regular contact than we would have otherwise. 

Jan 7, 1:15AM EST0

Do you think names of sex offenders should be made public?

Jan 6, 4:02PM EST0

I do, within reason. It might be controversial, but if a 19 year old has a consensual relationship with a 17 year old, it’s hard to justify branding them as a sex offender for the rest of their lives. However, a 30 year old who’s known to have preyed on children (meaning anyone under 18) should be easily identifyable. I have a known sex offender living in my apartment building. I have no idea if this person had a relationship I described above or if they’re actually a known criminal. It’s hard to know if I should fear him or pity him. 

Jan 6, 4:09PM EST0

How did you start with the Pinup Chef web series and launching of the cooking school?

Jan 6, 3:53PM EST0

That’s a very good question. I started pinup modeling once I moved to Colorado and I met a photographer who was interested in putting together a cooking studio class. I told him about how I once had my own cooking show several years ago with my ex-husband as the cameraman and myself as The Producer and video editor. He was interested in the web project and we combined forces to make it happen.  Sadly our camera operator has moved on to other projects so we're in a 'holding pattern' currently.  As soon as we can get the footage from the camera man, we have two new episodes ready to air. 

The project is still growing of course.  If you follow the Facebook page, the Instagram account or the Meet Up events, you'll see we haven't done anything in a little while. It's hard to hold an audience during the holiday season, but we're about to jump back into it full force once more.

Last edited @ Jan 7, 1:09AM EST.
Jan 6, 4:10PM EST0
Show all 4 replies
How do we educate our children about these issues, any tips you can share?
Jan 6, 2:35PM EST1

 These are issues that we face every single day and far too many children have no idea of the dangers out there.    There are plenty of resources available for educating our children but I do believe that a good step would be to get the schools involved with the education process. They have been really supportive of sexual education over the last few decades and I believe it’s really something that should be need far more prominent in the schools.   This is an issue that happens every single day here in the United States. I would love to see more school systems get involved and I would love to get some volunteers educated on the issue to start traveling around to different schools in their areas to help educate children on the dangers. It’s no longer a “stranger danger” auditorium class but rather something much more sinister. 

 Parents should take a much more prominent role in the education process of their children first.   A lot of children are growing up in today’s society thinking the world is full of friends because social media tells them it is. They are sending friend request on Facebook and Twitter to allow people into their private lives when they have no indication of who that person really is. They leave their Instagram accounts open for the public to see and often take pictures in front of landmarks. It makes our children easy to track.   Educating our children could be as simple as attending this event I’m putting together this summer where I plan to educate children and adults alike or it could be as simple as having a one on one discussion in very adult terms with the children. A lot of times the kids don’t want to listen because they feel like they’re being treated like a child. If you talk to them like an adult and show them what to look for, they will surprise you with how interested they will be in this subject.  Educating our children could be as simple as attending this event I’m putting together this summer where I plan to educate children and adults alike or it could be as simple as having a one on one discussion in very adult terms with the children. A lot of times the kids don’t want to listen because they feel like they’re being treated like a child. If you talk to them like an adult and show them what to look for, they will surprise you with how interested they will be in this subject. 

Jan 6, 4:15PM EST0

 I would also suggest checking out operation underground railroad online as they are a family friendly organization who are devoted to fighting human trafficking. They have many resources available and can help you educate your children. Setting up an appointment with the local law-enforcement agency in your area for any further education with your child is also a great idea. Not only do they get a little one on one time with the police officers and get to know them as people instead of badges, but they will get a full education from them  

Jan 6, 4:16PM EST0
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