Human trafficking survivor speaks out

A vacation to Michigan turned into 7 months of being held by force
Kristy Hagarty is from Australia and was human trafficked when she came to Michigan on vacation.
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 7:02 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Human trafficking can happen to anyone, and it can happen anywhere. Operation G.H.O.S.T. officials said it’s happening more online, and not just on social media. Predators have taken to a number of websites, including gaming outlets.

Kristy Hagarty was targeted on a gaming website and was held against her will for seven months.

“I had a full-time job, I had my own apartment. You know (I) was kind of living the life, and came over here for a three-month vacation,” recalled Hagarty.

Hagarty is from Australia and was human trafficked when she came to Michigan on vacation.

”It kind of made me feel a bit stupid a bit dumb,” said Hagarty.

News 10 spoke with a non-profit and advocates who said that’s normal. The House of Promise said victims of human trafficking and ‘sextortion’ often face shame. They’ll help survivors work through that shame to start the healing process.

Hagarty said the people who kept her, kept her passport and visa as well. Leaving her without many options for escape.

“(They were) forcibly keeping me there, but they were asleep at the time. Something just in me, I don’t know what it was. I just thought today’s the day. like I’m gonna run and just keep running,” Hagarty said. “I still get emotional.”

She was able to find help at a hospital, and eventually made it to a support home in Lansing. She now uses her freedom to help others.

“You feel really kind of worthless, and like no one understands, but the second I got to the house of promise, it was just warmth and hugs, understanding, no judgment,” said Hagarty.

The House of Promise houses survivors and connects them with support services. They urge anyone who is healing from sexual abuse to reach out.

For more information on human trafficking and sextortion, click here. Operation G.H.O.S.T. provides prevention and awareness resources for everyone, including parents.


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