Megan grew up in what some might consider an idealistic environment. They were a seemingly typical middle-class, Caucasian family; mom stayed home with her and her sister, and dad made it to all of her soccer games. Megan was first chair violin and graduated from high school as part of the National Honor Society. Her parents have been married more than 30 years and the family attended church regularly. However, after an abusive five-year marriage, she was left alone to support two small children. Her naivety and vulnerability, both emotionally and financially, put her at risk for sexual trafficking.
“Human trafficking is a very complex issue, and a lot of times people think that it’s something you can just ‘get out’ of. Unfortunately, it is not always that easy because there are social and economic obstacles, as well as mental and physical safety that all must come together. It is often, as in my case, a long process to fully get away from a predator and the subculture entirely,” shared Megan. “In short, I was able to leave my pimp and move back across the country, but it took another six months until I was in a place I could leave the sex industry entirely, and it has been almost two years of intensive recovery since then.”
One of Megan’s first steps towards recovering was joining a gym. In her previous life, she had been eating little and sleeping less. Her body wasn’t prepared for eating normally and losing the weight she had gained was a manageable goal. Megan states that she wanted to “tackle something that I felt was totally impossible for me physically, not only as a fitness goal, but also as something to keep me focused on moving forward with my life.”
For her, that impossible goal was running. It was something she had never done, not even in PE class. She slowly started running, increasing just a minute at a time. In November 2012, after training for four months, she and her sister both ran their first 5k. As difficult as it was for them, they enjoyed it and have run a 5k every month since.
“Running has a very therapeutic effect, it allows you to process whatever you are going through, and I’ve learned a lot about life in general from running as well. There are some days when I am so overwhelmed, and struggling with anxiety that I ‘chase demons’ on my run. I always come back with a fresh perspective and a calm mind,” says Megan.
In May when she completed her first 10k, she realized that “up until that time, I had spent so much time running AWAY from all the negative, destructive forces in my life, and it was during that period this spring that I really had some major healing breakthroughs, and the run became a turning point where I started running TOWARDS a great future.”
Megan loves running and recommends it for anyone. Beyond improving her health, she also says that running has helped her deal with PTSD, as a result of experiences with human trafficking, along with intensive therapy. Today her life is entirely different than it was just a few years ago. She plans to complete her first half marathon in May of 2015, right before turning 30. Two years ago she set a goal to be in the best shape of her life by her 30th birthday, which she says she will undoubtedly meet.
She is a Reisher scholar and will complete a BA in finance in 2016. She is working with the scholar committee to bring a human trafficking awareness week to the school’s campus. She plans to start a financial planning business that works with women coming from similar situations to help them develop an exit plan because, as she says, “having to navigate coming out on my own the way I did has made me painfully aware of how few resources there are, and why so many women find themselves indefinitely trapped.”
Megan hopes to inspire people and wants to share this message, “NEVER give up on yourself. You are so much stronger than you even know! No matter what a person is facing, there is a reason, there is a purpose. We may not see it in the moment, or understand the pain and struggle. But it is a part of your story. YOU are in charge of your life, don’t ever give up on your dreams! Take control, charge out into the unknown, tackle a project or obstacle that seems impossible.”