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Jose

By August 26, 2020No Comments
Episode 27

Jose

Human Trafficking Survivor, Public Speaker, & Activist

Jose has experienced so much in his life that would be unimaginable for many. While growing up in a small town in Texas, Jose was terrified to come out as gay to his family—particularly his physically and mentally abusive father. After coming out, Jose’s family was not accepting. The rejection he faced from his parents played a role in leading Jose to rely on other ill-intentioned adults. Unfortunately, what happened next included a pattern of sexual abuse, manipulation, and sex trafficking at the hands of his abusers who, at the time, disguised themselves as men wanting to help Jose. Jose’s story of being sex trafficked as a male who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community is not one that is often told—even though those in the LGBTQ+ community regularly experience exploitation.

Jose is now a public speaker, author, advocate, activist, and sex trafficking survivor who is sharing his story to help shed a light on these issues. We applaud Jose for his bravery and vulnerability in sharing his story with our listeners.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Garrett: What’s up people?! I’m Garrett Jonsson and you’re listening to Consider Before Consuming, a podcast by Fight the New Drug. Before we jump into this conversation, we want to let you know that during this conversation we discuss rape, sex trafficking, drug abuse, and suicide ideation. Listener discretion is advised.

Today’s conversation is with Jose Alfaro, he is a victim and survivor of sex trafficking. As of late, there’s has been a lot of talk about sex trafficking, and the big question is, how? How is this happening? Some of you might be asking “Was he abducted and smuggled into a foriegn country?”, the answer is no. He’s from Texas, he grew up in a conversative home, and he was trafficked as a minor through a massage business located in the United States.

Unfortunately, Jose’s experience is much more common than some may think.

So let’s just jump into the conversation so we can learn more about the realities of sex trafficking. We hope you enjoy this episode of Consider Before Consuming.

Garrett: Thanks for joining us today.

Jose: Thank you. To be honest with you. It actually, I find it as a way of healing. So every time I talk about it, I feel like I grow a little more and learn a little bit more about myself, which is why I do it.

Garrett: So cool. I’m glad that you do have that perspective because yeah, we’re, we’re benefiting from you sharing them, um, to help our audience, get to know Jose a little bit better. Can you talk to us and tell us who you are?

Jose: So my name is Jose Louis Alfaro, and I am a survivor of human trafficking. I currently live in Boston, Massachusetts, and I am a full time hairdresser. Um, I part-time speak about an advocate against human trafficking, um, specifically within the LGBTQ community. I just want to help spread awareness, um, about the LGBTQ plus community and, um, the different forms of trafficking that can happen within our community. Cause I don’t feel a lot of people are speaking up about it. Um, so my goal is to kind of just help spread awareness.

Garrett: I love it. Can you tell us a little bit more about your story when you say that you were a trafficking survivor?

Jose: Um, so basically, um, I had, I grew up in a really small conservative town, um, called Navasota, Texas. Um, so I grew up, um, basically having to hide my sexuality with fear of what others would think of me, um, being outcasted. Um, so when it came to the time that I was figuring out my sexuality, my orientation, figuring out who I was as Jose, um, I ended up experiencing, um, I ended up having a relationship with a guy near my hometown. My parents found out and basically this is kind of where the story kind of began. Um, when my parents found out they got extremely upset and asked me how they were going to fix me. And the thing, the issue with that is, is that I, I personally didn’t know how I could be fixed, but I actually thought in my head that there was a possibility that I could be fixed and that I could change. And, um, from there I told my parents, I said, “Move me somewhere new and I can start all over and I’ll start a new life and I’ll be straight.” You know? Um, this was something that I truly believed I could change about myself. Um, then when I moved to San Antonio, Texas, I quickly learned that it was not something that I could change about myself. And I learned this by, um, meeting up with a 36 year old man named Cody, um, who was a teacher within the same school district that I went to school in. He was not my teacher specifically. He taught second or third graders. Um, but long story short, we ended up having a sexual relationship. Um, and then when it came time to me moving back home to Navasota, Texas after the semester was over, my father confronted me again, um, and told me that if I wasn’t going to change, go to conversion therapy camp, go to church counseling, go to therapy. Then I needed to get out of his house. And at the age of 16, I made the decision to leave and I moved in with the 36 year old, um, where he then began sexually abusing me and raping me three to four times a day. Um, and then it wasn’t until I realized that he was sleeping with other underage boys and cheating on me, basically that I made the decision to go back home where my father fought with me again. And then I was basically left with nowhere else to go and no one to turn to. And that is how I met, um, Jason Gandy. Um, the guy who trafficked me through his massage business.

Garrett: I’m a heterosexual. Um, but one of my friends is gay and he says that one of the challenges that he had, um, growing up is that he had nowhere to turn to learn about healthy sexuality. Do you think that, did you experience that?

Jose: There was absolutely nowhere that I could turn to look for, um, uh, to look for a healthy way of exploring my sexuality? Um, I, like I said, my whole life, I was living in fear of what my parents would do, what my friends would say of being thrown out, which obviously ended up happening anyways. Um, but with that fear, I turned to pornography. Um, just to get an idea of what or how gay sex was supposed to happen. Um, I can’t say that it was a healthy way of learning about gay sex, but it was the only thing that I could turn to, to help me understand how it’s done. Um, and basically what goes on. But I think a lot of people experience this gay or straight, um, trying to figure out how things work, how it’s done.

Garrett: Right. We all kind of lack that those educational tools, whether matter what your orientation is.

Jose: Absolutely.

Garrett: When you first turned to pornography, um, did you think it was beneficial for the first couple of times?

Jose: Um, I don’t feel that pornography was something that I got relief from. Um, I don’t think that I necessarily ended up having that feeling like, “okay, this is normal. Obviously other people are doing it.” Um, I grew up in a very, very strict home and like I said, my father was extremely abusive. So any time that I experienced any form of sex viewing sex, whether it be pornography or, or whatever, I always had this feeling of guilt afterwards, where I felt like what I was doing was wrong.

Garrett: Okay. So moving to today, you’re a person that is very open about your experience as a victim and survivor of sex trafficking. And the question I have is why do have, why have you decided that it’s best for you to speak publicly about these experiences?

Jose: Well, as you know, I was kicked out of my home at a very young age. I had no one to turn to. I had this feeling like I just wanted to be loved and accepted. And at that time in my life, I felt like men who happened to be pedophiles and traffickers since my vulnerability and took advantage of me. Um, but with that being said, because of my experiences, I want to be able to be a voice for those children who have no one to turn to. I want to help parents understand how important it is to be accepting and to not give up on their children. Um, but mostly I want to be able obviously to be that voice, but I want to help people heal. And if sharing my story does that, then that’s what I feel I’m going to do. I’ve also found that the only way to help others is to be completely transparent about my story and not hiding any part of it, um, due to shame or whatever the situation be. Um, so hopefully being transparent and sharing my story will help anyone who’s been in the exact same situation.

Garrett: Man. That is so cool. Do you think that the average person today understands what sex trafficking is?

Jose: I think that people have this idea based on certain films that have been put out in the media. Um, one for example is Taken. Um, but a lot of people mentioned that movie, um, or used to mention that movie, anytime I brought up my story and a lot of people compared my experiences to that movie and were questioning, “How were you sex trafficked? If it’s not exactly the same as the movie Taken.” And I, for a long time myself, I felt like, well, if my story isn’t like the movie taken, then maybe I wasn’t trafficked. Um, it took a long time for me to realize that what had happened to me was actually sex trafficking. And I will say it wasn’t until the trial, um, where they’re basically telling me “You were human traffic or you were sex traffic” that I realized, “Oh, wow, this is really bad. Like this is crazy.” Um, but no, I do not feel like people truly understand or know, um, the many ways that sex trafficking can happen.

Garrett: I think you’re right. Um, I do want to mention that there is something called the TVPA it’s the trafficking victims protection act. And according to the trafficking victims protection act, uh, sex trafficking is a commercial sex act induced by force fraud or coercion or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age. And so my question for you, Jose, in your personal account, um, once you learn like, “Oh my goodness, I was a victim and survivor of sex trafficking.”, looking back, was it force fraud, coercion, um, being under the age of 18 or a combination of all of them?

Jose: I would probably say a combination of all. Um, basically I was tricked into trafficking by Jason. It wasn’t until we were in the massage room and we’re about to give this massage. And Jason is nodding at me to take my clothing off and I had remembered, he told me to do as he did. Um, and it wasn’t until that moment that I realized that this wasn’t just a normal massage and it was going to be something sexual. Um, but I do feel that there is another side to this when you’re in a room with two adult men and the door is closed. There’s a sense of force because as a teenager, you question, Hmm, what could happen to me in this moment? If I say something right now, are they going to listen to me and help me? And then you start questioning. You’re like “Probably not, um, something bad is probably going to happen either.” They’re going to force me even more into it, or they’re going to hurt me in some kind of way. And so I think in a way I was kind of forced into it, um, first tricked and then forced, um, to where I got to a place to where I just knew that there’s no way out of this now.

Garrett: Right. Wow. That’s a heavy experience. Um, before we jump in and do a deep dive on your experience, I wanted to ask you up front what societal barriers, um, cause this, to be honest, and I’m just kinda realizing this right now that you’re the first male survivor that I’ve spoken to. And so the question is what societal barriers make it even more difficult for male survivors of sexual exploitation to seek justice, to, to heal?

Jose: Well, I think that men are raised to believe that males can defend themselves and are strong enough to fight off anyone. Um, as a gay male, I was constantly told that I must have wanted it. Um, but looking into my story, you quickly realize that we’re talking about children and it doesn’t really matter the gender. And, and I don’t believe that it should. It should. Um, I think that kind of answers the question.

Garrett: Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense. Um, can you talk to some of the doubt that you’ve received or some of the skepticism that you’ve received as you started to voice and, and transition out of life of sex trafficking as a male survivor?

Jose: Um, it’s actually kind of interesting because as much as I told my story to a lot of people before the trial, I was kind of met with a lot of, kind of just, it was a quick discussion where it was just like, “Okay, let’s move on from this conversation because I don’t really know how true he’s being. Um, I don’t really know how much truth there is to a story.” And so I was kind of met with a lot of doubt. Um, but it wasn’t until after the trial, that the second that I mentioned that I was testifying in a criminal trial, suddenly people wanted to listen. They wanted to know more. Um, and suddenly I had this feeling that people actually believed me now. Um, so it was almost as if like I needed proof, um, for people to believe me. But then I also got a lot of criticism from the gay community.
Well, I don’t want to say a lot because a lot of people met me with positive messages, hoping for healing, you know, and so on. But there were a couple of negative, um, negative statements that were said to me, one of them being, um, I remember this guy at a gay bar that I was at and I was with some friends and this article had just come out telling my story and this guy comes up to me and he goes, “Hey, I just want you to know that, like, we’re not judging you.” And I looked at him and I said, what do you mean? And he said, “Well, you know, we’re just, we’re not judging you.” And he said it in this way, that basically was telling me, they’re judging me, um, based on my story. Um, and I went home that night and I cried and I was, I, I didn’t even think that I would have this negative feedback from people. I thought it was going to be all positive. And I realized that there are going to be those people out there who are going to doubt me, who are going to say something negative, who are going to be, you know, who are going to take certain parts of the story and turn it into whatever they want to slut. Shaming me making me sound like, um, it was something that I wanted. It was something that I did because I’m a slut or whatever they, they think it is. Um, but I had to look deep down inside myself and I had to remind myself why I decided to speak openly about it. And going back to the main reason, to help others totally got me right back on the right path and helped me start thinking more positively. And if anything, it made me want to speak up about it even more. Um, why not? My story was already out there. So I was like, let me just keep doing this until people are sick of hearing about it.

Garrett: I love that. Um, well, can we, can we do like a deep dive into your experience? I know we’ve covered some of the smaller details, but I just want to allow you a moment to explain what happened.

Jose: At which moment. [laughter]

Garrett: Yeah, I guess, um, going back to, you said that you lived with, um, Cody at 16, um, and then you left, you went back home and then you were kicked out again. Is that right?

Jose: Yes.

Garrett: Um, so at what age did you start living with Jason?

Jose: So when I was kicked out, um, I was 16 years old, still. Um, I probably lived with Cody for a few months, um, until I realized he was cheating on me. Um, but when I, after my father kicked me out for the second time, I went to a friend’s place who lived nearby in Navasota and I told her what had happened. And she already knew how my father was. And she was just really sad about the whole situation. And mind you, I grew up with three sisters. So me staying with a female, um, she had already told me that she had bad feelings about how her father was going to think about me staying with them. So I already knew I wasn’t going to be able to stay with her. Um, so when I went to her house, I went onto a computer and I did well, But I had always, Which was, I went online looking to talk to other gay men about what I was going through. And it was in that moment, it was on a website called gay.com. I know it’s super convenient. Um, and I went on this site and I began chatting and with a few people, and then Jason messaged me and Jason looked fairly young. Um, he looked handsome. He had a great physique and he starts messaging me, asking me how my day is. And I was completely honest. And I told him, you know, my parents threw me out for the second time. I don’t know what I’m going to do. And he empathized with me and he told me that he wanted to help me because he had friends who had gone through similar situations. And here I am talking to an older gay male thinking that this is what a community feels like, and I’m going to get the help that I need because he understands it.

He understands where I’m coming from and how I feel inside to have these feelings that something is wrong with me. And he promised me, um, private school. He promised me a nine bedroom home in Austin that he had, he told me that he had good amounts of money. Um, so it kind of gave me this idea that this was going to be a dream situation. Um, and then he mentioned that he’s in Houston, Texas, which is probably two hours away from where I’m from. And he said, I’m here for business for a few weeks. I can come and pick you up and we can take it from there. And I felt uncomfortable. And so we spoke on the phone for a few hours and then I finally made the decision. Um, I’m just going to go because I have nowhere else to go. And I told my friend, she questioned me asking if this was a good idea. And I said, I’ve already done this before I did it with Cody. I can do it again. I’ll be fine. And she said, okay, I can’t really stop you. So she drops me off at a gas station in my hometown. And Jason came to pick me up. And from there, um, he kind of started this routine of keeping myself physically fit and eating super healthy. But at the time I didn’t fully understand why this was going on. Um, but I started to realize that the reason why he was doing this was for his business and I needed to be a perfect, beautiful product that he could sell through his business. And then he mentioned to me that, um, basically at some point I’m gonna want to live a life on my own where I can support myself. And he said, I feel like the only way that you can do this now, because you’re so young is if you participate in my massage business and at this point he doesn’t mention that it’s going to be sexual. He doesn’t mention that any of that is involved and I’m my mentality is, “Oh, how easy or how hard could it be to give a massage?” And I told him, I said, you know, I do kind of want to learn the techniques. I think that this could be a legitimate business that I could get into.

And hopefully one day I can live a life on my own and support myself, which was like the only thing that I had ever wanted, um, besides love and support obviously, but I truly want it to be successful. And I want it to be able to live my life, how I wanted to live it and have full control of everything. And so I went along and I said, “Of course, I would love to help you with your massage business.” And he said, “Well, if we’re going to do this, you have to promise me that if anyone asks you, you have to tell them that you are 18 years old and that you’re training to become a massage therapist.” So basically it was supposed to be like an apprenticeship where I was going to be learning from him and mentally, I actually thought that this was legit.

I thought that this is what I was going to become. I was like, “This is that I’m going to become a massage therapist and I’m going to be successful one day.” And then we go into that first massage and, you know, he’s nodding at me to take my clothing off. After this married old man is laying completely naked on his table and Jason’s getting naked. And then he’s telling me to get naked. The door closes, and one thing leads to another, and this is becoming much more than just a massage. I can’t even say that there was much of a massage involved. It was more of allowing the client to sexually abuse me in any way that he wanted to. Um, and it wasn’t until Austin, because Austin is where he said he had the nine bedroom home. So after his “business trip”, quote unquote, um, he took me to Austin and this, I have to say this because I still to this day feel the exact same way.

I felt when I walked into that house, that house was probably a four or five bedroom room that was divided by bedroom sheeting, where college students were paying really cheap rent. Um, and this is what he considered a “nine bedroom home”. And it was honestly a dump. It was so dumpy and I was so gross most out there was, it was just so dirty, not clean. So many people were going in and out of the, his house. It just felt, it just felt like extremely unsafe, unhealthy. And I, it wasn’t what he had promised me from the beginning. Um, it wasn’t until then. And then he shortly, um, mentioned that I should probably get back to school, um, because he doesn’t want the police to come looking for me. Um, and at this point I already knew how to enroll in school. Um, but the thing is, is that it wasn’t private school.

Like he had promised it was probably one of the worst high schools that I’d ever gone to in my life. They had metal detectors as you walked in. I just was scared. I was terrified. Um, but basically boy, that’s what happened as I continued to stay with him, things started to, to get a lot worse. Um, sexually the clients became a lot more aggressive. Um, I started to see a different side of Jason, um, where he would look at young men or young boys, I should say, because they were probably anywhere from the age of seven to 12. I don’t really know, but he would stare at them like he was like really attracted and interested in them. And I just questioned what his what’s his purpose? Like, what is he trying to do to me? And what is he going to try to do to these young boys that he keeps staring at?

And then it was probably the very last massage that I gave that I was raped by a client. Um, and I just, I felt like this is not what I want with my life. This is not what I signed up for. This is not what he promised me. And I started putting things together and I’m like, ”This guy’s a horrible person and I’ve got to get out of here.” And I remember that last night that I was with him, we were going to the gym. Cause we went to the gym twice a day. Um, he had me on this healthy diet constantly, and I hated it cause I just wanted some Doritos and maybe some chocolate chip cookies. Um, I wanted something that was bad and he constantly told me that I couldn’t do that, that it was bad for you. And that I needed to stay on his diet and I to get out.

And it was that last trip to the gym where I said, tell him, I said, ”Look like I’m not feeling well today. I just, I don’t want to go to the gym.” and he’s, ”That’s totally fine.” He was like, “I’m going to go to the gym.” He was like, “You get some rest and try to feel better.” And he left. And as soon as he left, I popped up out of the bed. I was not sick. I was totally lying. And I did what I, what I thought was going to help me make a decision on whether I should leave or not. And it did. I went through every single drawer in his bedroom. I went through his closet. I went through everything, searching for something that would just give me an answer that says you need to get out of here. And I found child pornography on his laptop, and that was more than enough for me to say I’m out.

And I, um, the next day I used his cell phone, I told him I was going for a bike ride. I got on his bike, grabbed the phone called Cody and asked him if he could come and pick me up the next day I told him what was going on. And I told him that I feared for my life and that I needed help. And he was extremely upset with Jason and he couldn’t believe that this had happened to me. And he said, “I will be there first thing in the morning.” And he came to pick me up. I snuck out of the house and that was the last time that I saw Jason until I testified against him.

Garrett: Wow. Um, were any of these commercial sex acts filmed?

Jose: I was not filmed, um, to my knowledge. Um, I do know that other victims of his, um, and I know this based on the trial, um, that there were moments that other victims were filmed. Um, I personally do not believe that I was, um, and speaking with the attorney that helped me, um, or the us attorney’s office. They told me that they’ve looked at a timeline of his victims. And when I, the place that I was in that timeline, he was still figuring out what he could get away with. And if you look at his most recent, when he got caught in 2012, um, that is when that was what let’s see 2007 to 2012. That’s what, five years. Um, within those five years, he then felt that it was okay to take a 15 year old boy to London, um, who wasn’t related to him, where he could sexually sell him through his massage business like he did myself. So as you look at the timeline, he got a little worse and worse and felt like he could get away with anything basically.

Garrett: Um, so then what happened after Cody picks you up? What was the next step in your journey?

Jose: Um, at that point in my life, I mean, you’re, you’re, we’re talking about the end of my, the end of my, sorry. It was at the end of the age of 15 to basically my entire year of being 16. All of this happened all at once. So my parents giving up on me, um, kicking me out, telling me that they basically don’t approve of anything that I am. Um, and then Cody, um, cheating on me and sexually abusing me. And then the trafficking with Jason, I didn’t realize it, but it was so much trauma that had happened in such a short time that I began experiencing PTSD, um, and anxiety. It wasn’t something that I truly knew was happened. That that was what was happening at the time. Um, but looking back now, I can tell you, I had really, really bad PTSD to the point to where I started to go mentally crazy.

Um, I remember there were times where I would sleep with a knife under the bed between the mat or between the mattresses. And I kept telling myself “If, if Cody cheats on you one more time, you’re going to do something about this.” And of course I never got to that point, but mentally I was just, I was losing it.

Garrett: Right.

Jose: And I remember there were times and I’ll never forget this feeling. And I still experience it sometimes in my current relationship. And mind you, my current relationship is perfect. Like he’s never done anything to me. He’s never hurt me. Um, but, um, there were times with Cody where a simple text message would get my heart racing. And I kept going back to these thoughts where he’s cheating on you, he’s going to do something to you. Um, and then the second that he would leave, I would do the same thing that I did.

Um, when Jason left to the gym that day, I w I go through, I would go through his closet. I would go through his drawers. I would look everywhere for any sign that he was doing something behind my back. And sometimes I did find things and sometimes I didn’t. Um, but because of those feelings, I now carry that with me. Um, even in my current relationship at the beginning when David and I first met, I questioned him nonstop. Okay. I looked through all of his drawers. I looked through everything. I went through his phone, um, which is not healthy at all, but it was my way of, it was the only way that I knew to find out if I could truly trust someone. And it, it was really sad and scary at the same time, because I didn’t know, I didn’t know. Basically I didn’t have control over myself anymore. I was just willing to do whatever I could do in the moment. Um, and it wasn’t until I turned 18 years old, that I got a message from another gay guy who told me that Cody was sleeping with him and that he was HIV positive and that he was more than sure that Cody was HIV positive. And he goes, I know Cody really well. And I know that he does not use protection when he has sex with you. And he said, if I were you, I would go and get tested because you’re probably HIV positive. And I’m 18 years old. I had never been tested in my life. Um, and I just trusted these people and believed that everything that I was going through and that had happened to me was I was going to be okay as far as STDs go. Um, and it was the first time that I had my first scare where I’m like, “Oh my gosh, like, this is, this is bad.”

Like this is, I began to think that it was, uh, a death sentence. Um, as you know, HIV is no longer a death sentence. It is something that you could live a healthy, great life with. Um, but at that time, you know, being 18, I, I freaked out and he came home and we got into a really bad heated argument. And I pushed him and mind you, this guy is an ex Marine. He’s a really big muscle guy. And I, when I pushed him, I didn’t realize, but he called the cops on me and I’m thinking in my head, “well, if he were to ever call the cops on me, I’m not going to jail. Look at the things that he’s done to me since I was 16 years old.” and sure enough, the cops come and they questioned me and they say, “Alfaro, did you put your hands on him? And did you push him?” And I said, “Oh, of course I pushed him.” thinking they were going to side with me and the woman. I, I will always remember that. She said, “I’m sorry, but you have to put your hands behind your back.” And I said, “why do I have to put my hands behind my back?” And she said, because you’re coming with us. And there was a part of me that was thinking, “Oh, they’re going to save me.” But it’s the craziest thing. Um, I was so naive. Um, and I’m like, “they’re going to help me. They’re going to save me.” And I was in the backseat crying. And I said, “so when am I going to see my parents? “And the woman said, “I’m sorry, but you do realize that you’re in handcuffs and you’re going to jail.” And I said, well, and I just burst out in tears.

And I said, “I didn’t do anything. Why am I going to jail?” I spent 24 hours in jail for the night and my parents bailed me out the next day. Um, and I ended up going back home and I was already enrolled in college. So I knew I had to go back to San Antonio eventually. Um, but I told my parents, I was like, if you don’t want me to go back with Cody, which they’ve mentioned that they no longer want me to see him since they helped me and build me out of, of jail. They said, “if we no longer want you to see him.” And I said, “well, I have to go back for school. So I’m going to need some support.” And I said, “can I have my vehicle back?” So before all of this happened, they bought me a brand new car.

And, you know, I was living this life where I thought everything was going to be great. I was going to go to university. I had plans to be a Broadway star. I thought everything was going great. Um, and my father said, I have this old truck. And I used to call this car Thumper, because you, as soon as you turned it off, it would do this loud beatings. And it would just thump. And it was the most embarrassing truck to me. Um, but I looked at him and I said, I can have it. And he said, “yes, if, if that’s what you need to go to school, and if it’s going to keep you away from Cody”, he was like, it’s yours. And I said, great. And I said, now I have to find a mattress. I have to find a place to stay. I said, but I’ll do it.

And I went on Craigslist. I found this room that was probably a block away from where Cody lived. Um, of course I needed to be nearby. I am, I hadn’t moved on from him at that point. Um, and I got this really cheap mattress off of Craigslist and that I put on the floor and I big, I finished that semester. I didn’t do so well. Um, but it was during that time, that the only way I felt that I could support myself was to do what I knew best at that point in my life. And that was prostitution. And so I began having, what I know now is called survival sex. And I would meet with people off of Craigslist. Like Jason had taught me to do, and I met clients left and right. I began doing webcam shows, um, where I would basically go on these chat sites. And then I would go on Skype and give private sexual, um, shows. And then I began to afford an okay life to where I at least had food and I had a place to stay. Um, and then

Garrett: At the, at the time, did you enjoy performing in cam shows?

Jose: No. Um, a lot of the things that people were asking me to do, they weren’t things that I actually wanted to do. And I always told myself that if I was going to have sex with people, I wasn’t going to allow them to penetrate me. I would perform oral sex. I’d allow them to touch me. I would touch them, but I would not allow them to penetrate me anally. And, um, ain’t only, um, and so when it came to these cam shows, people would ask me to do the craziest things, like put something inside of me or, um, to pee on myself, or, I mean, people were requesting dirty underwear. And I mean, just the craziest request. And a lot of them, I was like, no, I can’t do that. I’m sorry. And so a lot of times I would do more of like, I call burlesque…

Garrett: Right.

Jose: Where I would basically have myself covered for as much time as possible, but eventually they’re not happy about that. And they would ask me to remove my clothing and, you know, and do things so,…

Garrett: Right. So you have Thumper that you’re driving around, you’re living on a cheap mattress that you found you’re surviving. Um, what happened next?

Jose: Um, so at this point in my life, I was seeing Cody, um, I would say once a week, because I lived a block away from him, basically, maybe it was a few blocks, but I, there was one day. I was like, I have to get this relationship back. I want to make it work. I began to feel like everything that had happened between us was my fault. And I wanted to make it better. I wanted him to think better of me because everyone in my life at that point had told me I was crazy. You know, Cody would tell me that I was crazy because basically I wasn’t going to just submit to him and do what he asked me to do, um, and allow him to cheat on me and do other things. My parents called me crazy because I was gay. Um, and then my friends just said I was crazy just because I lived a crazy life compared to their own that wasn’t, didn’t seem normal to them. And so I just wanted to feel somewhat normal, try to act like I had my head on right. And so I went to his house, I knocked on the door. I brought this 12 pack of waters. I don’t know why. Um, and I said, “Hey, um,” I called him. I said, “Hey, I brought you some water. I just wanted to see if we could chat.” And he said, “you need to leave any immediately.” I knew there was someone else in the house and I started to go crazy again. I remember banging on his windows, telling him to let me inside and I don’t even know what I was going to do, but I had this really bad anger and aggression. And I keyed his car. I busted his tires and then I ran off. And after that day, I was like, “I’m done, I can’t do this anymore.” And I made the decision to go back home. I got an apartment near my hometown, and I went to Blinn college. I did not finish the semester because I couldn’t. I then began really going through like a really, really bad depression. Um, and I began drinking a ton. I began doing ecstasy party drugs. Um, anytime that I went out to parties, um, and I, my life was just a downward spiral. I no longer had the drive that I had before.

All of this happened to me. I didn’t want to be anybody. And I didn’t think that I could at this point anymore. And I thought that my, the only choice that I had in life was to continue being a prostitute. And that’s what I did for a long time. And then I was messaged by this older guy who had a chimpanzee in his, on his shoulders and his photo on his profile online. And he asked me who I was and how I was doing. And the only reason why I responded was because I was intrigued by this chimpanzee. Um, and he tells me that he doesn’t want to have a sexual relationship with me. Doesn’t want to have a relationship with me at all, but he’s looking for an assistant to help him. Um, with his business. He said he owned a demolition company and he said he needed someone to book his flights. And basically he wanted to know if I was willing to do that for him. And at this point in my life, I said, “what the heck? I’ve already been through so much, I’m alive. You know, what’s the worst that could happen to me. I die? fine.” I literally said that to myself. I’m no longer afraid I will fight until, you know, I get what I need and I get where I need to be. And I, he flew me to Vegas the next day. And it was my first time flying. It was my first time taking a cab. Um, and I met this guy and he was extremely wealthy and he flew me around the U S to help him. Um, I quickly learned that he wasn’t just a business owner of a demolition company. He was maybe more than likely part of the mafia. Um, and he threatened me and told me well, after I shared my story with him, that what I had gone through with Cody and Jason, I didn’t even realize it.

But what I was basically doing was telling him that I’m a snitch and that’s all he saw. And he said to me, “look, I know that you’ve probably Googled me. You’ve read about me.” And he said, and he said, “I want you to know that if you ever try anything like that with me,” he said, “I’m not going to come after you. I will come after your four year old little sister.” And after that, I was like, “I can’t do this anymore. Like I I’ve got to go.” And so he flew me home and then I had this new need and want for luxury. I wanted men to treat me with gifts and money, and I thought that this was going to be the best way to get where I want it to be in life. And I began going on these websites called house boy, rent boy, you name it.

And I began meeting people who flew me all over the U S um, this is basically like a sugar daddy, sugar baby relationship. Um, and I flew around different parts. And then the last time I met up with a sugar, daddy was Boston. And I met this guy and we both realized that we weren’t really clicking. We weren’t, we just didn’t match basically. And he said to me, he said, but I’ve grown to really like you as a person. And you said, I want to offer you a place to stay rent, free food on the table. He said, under one condition.

Garrett: You’re like “Oh, shoot.”

Jose: Right. And I paused and I’m like, “here we go.” Like, “what do you want from me?” Like, “everybody wants the same thing. So just tell me what it is.” And he said, “you, you have to go back to school.”

And I remember thinking “school?, I don’t want to, you know, at that point in my life, I’m like, “I don’t want to go to school anymore. Like, this is the life that I have now decided I want to live.” And he said, “either you go back to school or you go back home.” And I was like, “I don’t want to go back home. I don’t want to go around people who hate me, who make me feel like they don’t want me there and talking about my family and my friends.” And I said, “okay, I’ll go back to school.” I said, “but it doesn’t matter what kind of school.” And he’s like, “no, just do something with yourself.” And I said, “okay.”

Garrett: That’s cool.

Jose: It was really kind of amazing. And I enrolled. It was, it was really kind of amazing. And it’s, it’s crazy that I’ve, I’ve gone through so many different experiences.

And how many times could I have been murdered or overdosed or whatever it be. And it was like a blessing in disguise. It was just like, okay, I’m going to go back. I’m going to go to beauty school. I went to beauty school. I finished beauty school. I met David. Um, and it was a struggle. It was a really, really hard struggle. I, again, turned to alcohol, a large portion of the beginning of my relationship with David. We were having a lot of arguments again, because of PTSD and anxiety. I couldn’t trust anyone. Um, and it was, it was scary. I contemplated suicide, a Lara, a large portion of, from the age of 18 till I want to say about 26, I had constantly thought about killing myself.

Garrett: Um, I do want to say Jose that I’m so happy that you’re in a healthy relationship today with David, um, because yeah, you deserve love and happiness. So that makes me happy. Um, I did have one question regarding going back to when you were camming, you said that you began drinking and abusing alcohol and, um, ecstasy. I wanted to ask your opinion. Do you think it is common for drugs and alcohol to be abused, um, by those who do camming?

Jose: Um, I would say yes. And the reason why is if you’re willing to do something like webcamming pornography, um, you start to lose self-worth and you start to think that you as a person in your body is basically nothing. And you almost feel like you’re deserving of people using you and talking down on you or, um, using, using you almost like an item and you become an item and you’re no longer human. That’s how I felt at least. And I got to a point to where I just, like I said, I had no drive. I didn’t have any self worth. I didn’t care about myself anymore. And it’s in that moment that you don’t even realize that you no longer love yourself. And now I can tell you looking back, I’m like, “I can’t believe I did that stuff.” Like I’m in the process of healing and loving myself and treating my body. Right. And, Oh my God, the things that I do, like the exercise routines, the, um, supplements that I take, the dieting, you know, I take it super serious, but I know that it makes me feel better and it makes me feel better inside and out. I feel like I look
better. I look better. I feel better. Um, but no, I definitely think that you just lose self-worth and you just feel like an object to people.

Garrett: We have a shirt that says people are not products. Have you seen that show?

Jose: I have not. No, I like that.

Garrett: Can I, can I send you a shirt?

Jose: Sure.

Garrett: I’m going to send you some, some research because, um, yeah, we want to, that’s a way for us to thank you for being with us today. And, um, the, the phrase, people are not products has a new meaning today after speaking to you. So anyway, I’ll, I’ll send you that shirt I’ll get your size and whatnot after the conversation.

Jose: Awesome.

Garrett: Um, well, you’ve talked a little bit, you, you started this transition of mindset where, okay, you’re going back to school, you’re getting into a healthy relationship with David. Um, but you’re still experiencing symptoms of PTSD and depression. Um, sounded like, it sounds like you were still turning to alcohol for some escapism. Um, can you talk a little bit more as to how difficult it was to transition your mindset, um, as you exited the life of sex trafficking and, and camming,

Jose: It has been a process. Um, I’m still in that process, but it was, it wasn’t until I began, I began getting thrown out of bars, clubs. Um, I was getting in arguments and fights with people within the community. Um, I was losing the drive to want to go to work, to do anything. And then I had this major panic attack and this panic attack lasted two weeks long. I could not get out of bed. I didn’t want to eat, I didn’t want to do anything. And I felt like I was going to die. My heart was racing. My fingers were numb. My toes were numb any every second I felt like I was either going to vomit or pass out. And it scared the crap out of them.

Garrett: Yeah, that sounds terrible.

Jose: Yeah, it was. It’s probably one of my most awful experiences after everything that I’ve gone through. This panic attack is probably the worst of everything. Um, and I didn’t think that I was going to come out of it and I legit felt mentally insane. And I had, I remember it wasn’t until I woke up after two weeks of being in bed, I woke up and my entire mouth was of blood.

And I had, I decided that day, I need to go to the doctor. I need to do something about this. And I feared going to the doctor thinking that they were going to put me in like some mental mental institution or, or I don’t know. I just, I just had these crazy thoughts of what was going to happen to me if I went, but I went and I told him that I woke up with this mouth full of blood and she looked at my tongue and she goes, “well, you chewed basically your entire tongue.” And she was like, “this is common. This happens a lot when you’re extremely stressed out and you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, you know, all of this is going to affect you in some kind of way.” She goes, “basically what you’re doing is you’re grinding your teeth at night and your tongue is in the way.”

And, um, she basically told me she was like, we’re going to put you on antidepressants. Um, and just to get you started on feeling better and getting better. And I was kind of against it. I was like, I really don’t want to take antidepressants because I already knew that I couldn’t drink with them.

Garrett: Right.

Jose: And so actually it ended up helping me a lot because I stopped drinking as much. And I realized what the alcohol was doing to my body. Um, I don’t think I was an alcoholic. Um, but I do feel like I used it at times where I felt that it would numb me. Um, and I began learning more about myself and how to control the anxiety, how to control the depression and the feelings and the thoughts that I was having in my head and how to turn them around. Um, and I want to say that that is right after my panic attack.

That is when I began my healing process. And I started focusing on me and what it was that I needed and how I was going to get through life and how I was going to make it easier for myself. My life was so hard, you know, and I was so used to chaos and I needed, I needed to figure out where I was going to find peace with every, after everything that I had gone through. Um, and then sure enough, I have a friend come and visit me, um, in about 2014. And this friend comes to visit me from college station, Texas close to Navasota. And he says to me, look, I don’t want you to think that I came here just to share this with you. He was like, I really wanted to see Boston. He goes, but he goes, “I know what happened to you when you were 16.”

And he goes, “I have some news for you.” And I’m like, “okay. And I’m like, well, how do you know?” He’s like, “don’t even worry about it. That’s not what I want to tell you.” He was like, “Jason got arrested and he’s in prison.” And he was like, “there’s this article, this news report that came out.” And he was like, “they’re looking for other victims.” And he goes, “and you’re a victim and you need to contact law enforcement and tell them, or contact this hotline and tell them that, you know, more information.” and sure enough, they get me in contact with Homeland security. And I speak with Homeland security. I told them my entire story and the whole trial process began. And, Oh my gosh. Um, he was arrested in 2012. I found out in 2014 and we didn’t go to trial and I didn’t testify until 2018.

So it was a six year process. Um, and it was within that process where I was becoming stronger and preparing myself for the day that I had to see Jason again. And it came to that day. And to be honest with you, the hardest part wasn’t even seeing him. Um, the hardest part in that trial and testifying against him was when they put up a photo of myself when I was 16 years old and I took a photo for his massage business. And I looked at myself and in that moment, it’s just like, it took me back. And I felt so sorry for the kid that I saw in that photo. And I couldn’t handle it. And I broke down in front of everyone. And I, it was the first time where I truly reflected on what I had gone through. And it was the first time that I truly realized that what I had gone through was so horrible and that I deserve so much better in my life.

And I can tell you that I have grown so much. Um, and a lot of my growth comes from realizing what I got, what I went through. But most of all, um, people being understanding now, um, people finally wanting to hear my story and basically giving me the, what is the word?

Garrett: Like the respect basically, that you deserve.

Jose: Exactly, exactly. People finally listened to me and I had a story to share and people wanted to know more and I felt accepted. And my whole life that’s all I was looking for was that acceptance. And I’m finally at a place in my life to where I feel like everyone accepts me, but most of all, I accept myself. I accept myself and I love myself. And I’m so proud of everything that I’ve gone through and got through. Um, and I am so proud of where my life has headed.

Um, I never thought I would. I never realized how important it was to truly understand who you are and how to love yourself. And I’ve put in a lot of work, um, whether it be therapy or working on my body, my physique working on my mental health, um, it’s, it’s taken a lot of work, but when, once you start that work and you feel what is the change that it’s doing to yourself? All you want is more, you know, you, you feel this, you feel these chains and this weight just come off of you. And you’re just like, wow, I feel so light. I feel so happy. I’m excited to keep going. I’m excited to move forward. And that is the most amazing feeling that I’ve ever felt in my life.

Garrett: Wow. I love it. Thanks for sharing. That’s powerful.

Jose: I hope I’m answering your question.

Garrett: Oh man. You’re doing great. It is a fun conversation. Um, and very educational. One question I have was from that moment where you broke down in court, when you saw the picture and it hit you kind of like for the first time, like, “wow, this happened to me.” Um, where did the case go from there?

Jose: Um, so their war, there were a total of four, um, survivors. I’m going to call them survivors because they survived what they went through, um, four survivors testified that day, including myself. Um, and I will tell you, like, the process was insane. Like there were moments where they allowed him to speak to all of us, which I don’t even know if that was allowed. Um, but he basically tried to, in a way, blame all of us for what we had gone through. And if you read some of the reports from the judge, the judge ended up mentioning that he was evil and that he wasn’t even remorseful for the things that he had done. And…

Garrett: That sounds similar to how you watched the documentary on Larry Nasser.

Jose: Yes, I did. I did. With the gymnast, correct?

Garrett: Yeah. Cause Larry Nasser also did that to his victims in court, like address them and started to manipulate them in like anyway. Wow. That’s interesting that there are similarities there.

Jose: He did something exactly, exactly the same. I mean, like he turned to us with like full aggression and you could tell he was so angry. And I remember I was sitting in the, in the audience and I was just, I was just crying the entire time and I literally was starting to get upset and I was like, why is this okay, why is this allowed to happen? Um, but I ended up having to come back to Boston. This, um, trial took place in Houston. Um, so I had to fly there and then I had to fly back because I had a full day of clients, um, the next day. And I remember I was like, I want to hear the sentencing. Um, well, not the sentencing, the, um, what is it called?

Garrett: The conviction?

Jose: Yes, the conviction. Um, but I was like, “I have to go or I’m gonna miss my flight.” And so I left and I remember I was standing in the airport waiting to go through, um, security and I got the phone call and I closed my eyes. I answered my phone and put the phone to my ear and I said, “hello.” And I remember she said, “he’s guilty on all four counts.” And I said, “Oh my gosh.” And I was like, I remember crying. And then I remember laughing and I go, “so what does that mean?” [laughter]

Garrett: [laughter] for sure.

Jose: I was like, “so what does this mean?” And she said, well, she was like, “from here, we just have to wait for sentencing.” And she was like, “and then when that happens, we’ll fly you back to Houston, um, for sentencing and we’ll take it from there.” Um, she was like, “but congratulations.” She was like, “this is amazing.” She was like, “you did your part and putting this guy away for the rest of his life.” And I just remember, um, I was so, um, in tears, but they were happy tears. It was like so amazing to just feel like justice is happening. Um, and I did my part and now I can finally start this process of moving on from this specific part in my life. And, uh, it felt amazing. And I came back home and of course you, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. I came home and it was dark. It was a moment of just like I reflected on everything, everything, my childhood, my relationship with Cody, the trafficking. And I went, I went back to this dark place and I felt like, “I don’t know if I can get out of this.” Um, and then I, I remember I had this, it was probably the second day of being back. And I had had two full days, 12 hour days of telling and reliving the story to my clients.

Garrett: Goodness, that’s exhausting.

Jose: [laughter] Um, it wasn’t even the work that I was doing. It was the conversation I was having. And I was re I, I remember feeling like I had said this story or told this story more times in these two days to my clients and I had ever in my entire life.

Garrett: Wow.

Jose: And I came home that second day. And I just remember, I took it out on David, my boyfriend and I was screaming. I was crying and I told him, I didn’t want to live anymore. “I hate everybody.” And I was like, I, I, I didn’t mean this, but I was like, “I hate you. I hate everyone in my life. And I wish I was dead.” And he’s just like looking at me like, Oh my God, what, what can I do? And I was like, you can’t do anything. You’ll never live a day in the life that I lived. And I remember I locked the door to the restroom and I cried for like 45 minutes. And I looked in the mirror, I had snot coming out of my nose. I had, my face was swollen. I was red. I was, I just, was helpless. And I looked at myself and I stared at myself. And then I was like, it just exhausted. So exhausted mentally, physically. And I barely pushed the bedroom door closed. David was back in the living room, watching TV. It was total silence. And I shut the door. I went under the blankets and I fell asleep. It was probably like 6:00 PM and I fell asleep. And then I woke up and I had this idea that I want to start writing about everything that I had gone through. And I began writing a book. Um, and so I started writing. I don’t even know. I didn’t even know how to write. I didn’t know how to form a paragraph, just getting I did, but I, you know, I’m learning grammar, I’m learning all these things and I’m just writing what I know. And I wrote it all down. Um, I start realizing that the more I’m writing, the more I’m healing and the more I’m going reliving these situations, but at the same time, I’m now as an adult, I’m understanding why my parents reacted the way they did. I’m understanding why Cody did the things that he did to me, I’m understanding why Jason did the things that he did to me. And once I had

That understanding, I could finally realize that none of these were my fault and I wasn’t, I wasn’t going to blame myself for it anymore. And that was just everything for me. And so I went in to start writing this book, thinking maybe it won’t get published, maybe it will, but either way, you’ve gotten the most that you could get out of anything, the most important thing. And that is this feeling of healing and moving past it and moving on. And I will say that one of the major things that I realized was a still affecting me, was my relationship with my family. And I think that I started to figure out ways that I could heal because of, to heal from the things that I felt that my parents had done to me and made me feel like I wasn’t worth anything, that they didn’t love me.

They didn’t care about me. Um, and again, that’s still a process. It’s something that I’m still working on, but I’ve kind of learned that sometimes there are people that are just not gonna agree with you. And I feel like my family is one of those people and they’re living a specific life that personally I don’t agree with to them. I’m living a life that they don’t agree with. And I’m okay with kind of living our own separate lives. And, you know, I don’t have anyone to turn to, to say, to tell me what to do to tell me how to be, to tell me how to act. I now have control over me what I want to do with my life, how I want to live it, where I want to be. And right now I’m okay with that. And I’m content. I feel great. And I do hope one day that we can work on a relationship, but I’ve come to a place in my life that when they are ready to have a better relationship with me than I will be open arms and ready for that to happen. Um, but it’s going to take two, it takes two people in a relationship, and I need, I need them to kind of given a little bit,

Garrett: Right. Seek more understanding.

Jose: Absolutely, absolutely.

Garrett: That’s cool. One of my favorite sayings is that moments of bliss are not free. And I think about all of the experiences you have, and then getting that phone call at the airport and finding out the conviction, you have this moment of bliss and then the ups and downs begin again. Right? And, um, and today you’re, you’re, you’re healthy youre content, like you said, once again, it just goes back to that favorite phrase of mine. Moments of bliss are not free. Like we have to pay the price.

Jose: Oh, absolutely. But again, I see it as growth. And that’s the only way that you can grow is you have to have that moment where you’re just down in the dirt, because the only way up is to is up. And, and the only way you’re going to get back up is if you start to work on it, figure it out, understand it so that you can move on and learn from it.

Garrett: Right? So this book is the book finished.

Jose: Um, the book the book has finished, um, I will tell you, this has been a crazy process. I’m still learning the ins and outs of this business. Um, the next step is putting together my proposal and hopefully I can find an agent and we can start shopping it around. Um, I don’t even know if I did this process the right way.

Garrett: Not knowing is part of the process.

Jose: Um, but exactly, exactly. It’s definitely a part of the process and I’m still learning. I’m still figuring it out, but, um, it’s, I will say, and it’s not to toot my own horn, but it’s going to be a really good book and I’m excited to share.

Garrett: Dude, I’m excited. We are officially friends now, and I’m still, you have to keep me updated on the book cause I would love to read it.

Jose: Absolutely. You’ll you’ll know about it for sure. [laughter]

Garrett: Um, what advice do you have for other victims and survivors of sex trafficking, um, or sexual exploitation in general, as they transition their mindset and, and yeah,… move on from that. What advice do you have for them?

Jose: I think the best advice that I can give survivors is find yourself again, remember who that person was and realize that you’re probably never going to be that person again before it all happened to you. Um, but find yourself and realize how deserving of life that you are and how important it is to take care of yourself. And I have found that taking care of my whole entire body, I mean, body, mind, and soul, um, where I have finally began to heal and be an even better person than the boy I was before. All of this happened to me. And I think that once you start to realize that, and once you get a little taste of healing and feeling great about yourself, you start to realize what it takes and you start to implement that in your daily life and your daily routine. And you’re just going to see life in a whole other perspective. And it’s no longer about anybody else it’s about you. And that’s, I think that’s how it should be in life. It should be about ourselves first and then everyone else around us.

Garrett: Right. It’s kind of like the oxygen mask thing, huh? On the, on the airplane, put your oxygen mask on first and then you can help other people.

Jose: Absolutely. Absolutely. You’ve got to take care of yourself because no one else is going to do it for you. Um, and I think that that is probably the best thing that I could share with people because I don’t know if I would have gotten out of this if I hadn’t start, if I hadn’t started it like reflecting and working on myself, um, I would probably still be drinking alcohol. Maybe I would have overdosed. Maybe I would’ve, I don’t know anything could have happened to me, but I will say working on myself has changed my life.

Garrett: Thanks for sharing that. Um, I don’t want to jump around too much, but I did have some questions that came up as we were discussing all of your experiences. Um, one of the questions that came up was that some research shows that sex trafficking can involve like violent and dangerous sex acts. Um, and my question was, do you think that today’s mainstream internet porn can normalize some of these acts?

Jose: Can you ask the question one more time? I’m sorry.

Garrett: Yeah. Um, there there’s research that exists, whether it’s like surveys or interviews with people who have experienced sex trafficking and, um, a lot of the sex acts involved in sex trafficking can be very violent and dangerous. And so I’m wondering if in your opinion, do you think that today’s mainstream internet porn can like normalize or glamorize some of these acts of sexual violence?

Jose: I do. Um, I think that anything that is taken out of pornography can become reality. Um, but I also believe that there are other variable variables involved. Um, either this is something that people had already thought about based on their own traumas as a child or maybe they were bullied and it turned into something more. Um, but I definitely think that it depends on the person. Um, but absolutely I think that pornography can easily be taken out of context and become their reality easily.

Garrett: Um, another that I had is regarding the LGBTQ+ community, because there are entire genres of pornography, um, that are specifically dedicated to like fetishizing the abuse and degradation and humiliation of members from that community. Do you think that, that genre, those genres of mainstream internet porn can translate into actual abuse within the industry and or without outside of the industry, the porn industry? Does that make sense? It’s kind of a long question. Sorry about that.

Jose: Yeah, it does make sense, but I think it kind of goes along with my last answer too, where I do think that if there was already an issue, um, to where they were thinking of on these, um, acts of sexual violence, um, and then they were to watch a pornography that might show these acts being done, maybe even more aggressively. Um, I do think that that person is capable of feeling like, “Oh, this is normal and this is okay, and I’m going to do the same thing.” Um, but I, again, I do believe that it takes a certain person to start thinking that way. But to answer your question, yes. I think pornography can push someone to become more aggressive. Um, if that makes sense.

Garrett: Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on that. So my last question that before we go into kind of wrapping this entire conversation up, um, it’s been said that sex trafficking is an issue of supply and demand in your opinion, how do we stop the demand for sex trafficking?

Jose: I do feel this is a kind of a loaded question for me, um, because there is no actual definitive answer. Um, but I, my personal opinion, I feel that to slow down the demand, it starts with education and sharing survivor stories to understand how many different ways it can happen. I also think that the more voices that come forward, we can have a better understanding of where to look and turn to. And hopefully people will finally fear getting caught and in turn, slow down the demand as far as ending human trafficking. I can’t, again, I can’t give you a definitive answer because I think it’s a, it’s a long process.

Garrett: Right. Very complex.

Jose: Yes.

Garrett: Well, I’m Jose, if you go back to that moment where it was like your, your all time low, that the panic attack you had for two weeks, and then you fast forward to today, you’ve come a long way. You are definitely an inspiration. Um, a couple cool things that I wanted to mention that you’re doing today are at least from what I’m aware. Tell me if I’m wrong, but you’re on you advise the department of Homeland security. Is that true?

Jose: Kind of yes. So basically how it started is, um, after the trial, um, the attorneys that worked on my case, um, basically asked me if I was willing to share my story, um, with law enforcement and I, of course I was like, absolutely. Um, little did I know that this was going to turn into a, that I was going to be in a room filled with like hundreds of people and I would be getting on stage and sharing my story. Um, but I went through with it, I did it, I told my story. Um, and then after I then began, I then was approached by several different people. Um, and they told me how proud of me that they were and that they’re so sorry for what I went through. Um, but then I started getting emails, asking me if I would be willing to come and speak at other conferences or, and all of these had to do with law enforcement and it kind of just took off from there.

And so now I’ve basically I’ve given three or four, um, talks about my experience, um, just to kind of help, um, just to kind of help law enforcement understand my experience and ways to spot anyone else who could be, could be going through the same, the same thing. Um, cool. So yeah, it’s been kind of incredible experiencing that and now I’ve become a lot more comfortable speaking about it. I think that’s kind of what helps me be able to do this today is a kind of already done it more than a few times now.

Garrett: Another cool thing that you’re doing to give back to the community is you sit on the board of gay sons and mothers, is that correct?

Jose: Absolutely.

Garrett: Can you talk a little bit more about that work?

Jose: So gay sons and mothers is basically, it’s kind of showing the, basically what the role of a mother plays in a gay son’s life. If I believe I’m saying that correctly. Um, but when I was approached about it, um, because I was giving these talks already, I was approached to kind of help on more of an educational platform, um, just to kind of help educate people on my experience, but also including my relationship with my mother, um, which wasn’t, which isn’t, and wasn’t the best relationship. Um, so my point of view is kind of a little more on the negative side of our relationship or a relationship with a mother. Um, but I also talk about how important it is to have that love and that support from a mother and when it’s missing, what it can do to you and how it impacts your life as a whole. And, um, I’m basically just sharing my story and spreading awareness on how important it is for parents to love and support their children and to not give up on them, because when you give up on them, there’s a chance that they’re going to be vulnerable to another adult. And when that happens, I mean, I’m a testament to what could happen.

Garrett: Right. Well, thanks for all the work you’re doing in the community. It’s a where the world’s a better place because of you. So thanks.

Jose: Thank you. Yeah. Um, it’s, it’s a pretty cool thing. Cool feeling.

Garrett: It is a cool thing. Um, what resources do you think our listeners would find value in?

Jose: Well, um, there’s a few, um, one that I really enjoy, um, getting information from there’s, um, in an organization called youth underground. And what they’re trying to do is basically spread awareness about human trafficking, um, and spread education to our, our youth, um, just to kind of help inform them on the dangers of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Um, I have found that extremely resourceful. Um,…

Garrett: I actually have never heard of youth underground, so I will, um, I will be one to also utilize that resource. So thanks.

Jose: Yeah. I really like what they’re doing and they do these survivors stories every Sunday. Um, but not only that they allow our youth to come in and ask questions and they can do it anonymously, or they could say their name. Um, but they ask questions just to kind of help get some education, get some understanding each survivor story. And I just, I thought that was really cool just to have, you know, just to almost like have a conversation with these young people who don’t fully understand the danger of it all and how easily it could happen to one of them and to help will help them realize when it’s happening or when it could happen. Um, cause like myself, I had no idea that what I was experiencing was human trafficking, like I said. And so now with more education educating our youth, I think that they’re going to start to understand and see it a lot sooner.

Garrett: That’s cool. Yeah. I’m all about the education. So I’m on board there. Um, well I’ll say we want to leave you with the opportunity to give the last word, the last thought, what would you like to leave us with today?

Jose: I think that what I want to leave everyone with is that no matter what you’ve gone through, I think that at the end of it all you can pick up, you can learn to pick up the pieces and you can learn to move forward with your life. You can learn to grow as a person. And I think that every trauma has its learning experiences and the more you learn from those experiences, you have that much more power and that much more knowledge over everyone else and use that as a tool to help guide you and guide others through life.

Garrett: Thanks for joining on this episode of Consider Before Consuming. Consider Before Consuming is brought to you by Fight the New Drug. Fight the New Drug is a non-religious, and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography, by raising awareness on it’s harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts.

If you’d like to learn more about today’s guest and the conversation we had, you can check out the links attached to this episode.

Again, big thanks to you for listening to this conversation. As you go about your day, we invite you to increase your self-awareness, look both ways, check your blind spots, and consider before consuming.

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