Child Abuse & Human Trafficking: A Personal Story – Leanna Swingler

Leanna swingler is the Executive Producer of the film Another Child which is the true story of the shocking reality of human trafficking. From Leanna: Another Child is the story of my mother Cyndi, a woman who was sexually trafficked between the ages of sixteen and nineteen years old. Though she escaped and eventually married to raise me and my brother, she had only told her story to us in little more than fragments… until now. In 2012, my mother and I were going through keepsake boxes when we stumbled upon old letters, photographs and songs she had written. I could barely believe my eyes as I saw tangible evidence of a life once forgotten. The detail and heartbreak was unbearable, and I knew while I held my mother in tears that her story had to be told.

Born and raised in Indiana, my mother was the daughter of a truck driver and one of seven children. In her early teens, she fell into the drug scene of the ’70s. Dating a drug dealer meant mixing PCP and heroin, making deliveries, and being passed around at parties like a favor. In her mind, she saw herself as little more than an object of men’s delight, a perception which would enslave her for years to come.

At sixteen, she ran away from home and joined a traveling carnival that took her around the country. When the season ended in Florida, she befriended a seventeen year-old and her sugar daddy. On a trip to Disney World, he proposed she turn tricks: “He said, ‘You’re gonna do it anyway, so why not get paid for it?’” Broke and homeless, my mom could not even afford a pair of shoes. Thus began her life in the sex trade.

She tricked with several other girls in a large house in town. Her clients were wealthy businessman and powerful politicians at high-rises and parties. Most nights she coped with appointment after appointment by getting drunk and high. Money never passed through her hands. Every dollar went to the manager of the house. She would have fled had she any place to go. However, when her owners planned to sell her, it was time to escape.

My mother’s journey to wholeness covers many years and many miles, through trailer parks, truck stops, churches, and back to her old home town. Her poems and songs express the heart of a woman abused, one who searched for the right way to bend. There is still more for me to learn on this journey.