From Abuse and Trafficking to Healing and Purpose
Marjorie Saylor triumphed over abuse, and now helps survivors find true healing
Posted Jan 15, 2018
She sat in the bathtub, a razor to her wrist. She had come to the end. The blackest despair, the daily abuse, and unending pain she could bear no longer, and this ultimate act she would now do. Yet as the final moment drew near, the new life growing inside her held her back, and in a last desperate plea, she called out to the God of her childhood for help and divine deliverance. Flash forward four years, and Marjorie Saylor is a life transformed. Today she is a vibrant woman, filled with a healing peace, optimism, and a clear-cut mission. Free of the years of physical and sexual abuse, of self-destructive confusion, and the agony of being trafficked without mercy, Marjorie’s days are now jam-packed fulfilling her highest purpose, that of ending trafficking and exploitation, and helping abuse survivors find true healing. Her new non-profit is aptly named The Well Path.
In a given week, Marjorie may find herself meeting with delegates who have flown all the way from Luxembourg to San Diego to assist them in developing policies against human and sex trafficking, filming a documentary, or speaking at any event that will have her. Marjorie freely tells her story, for if but one person is saved, the telling was well worth it. Around her neck, Marjorie wears a necklace with the bright words HOPE, which is what she seeks to deliver to all in need, as she once was, of deliverance from their darkest despair.
Marjorie grew up in a home filled with domestic violence and sexual abuse. Never meeting her biological father, her stepfather was a man no child should ever have to meet. At age five, the terrifying nightmare of molestation began. When she was only about six years old, Marjorie tried to tell her mother, but her mother, so lost in her own abuse, was in no condition to help. Marjorie was told to stop lying, and earned a spanking in return. Marjorie learned to remain silent, and buried the fear and pain within. The molestation continued for another nine years. The abuse would only end after her stepfather tried to kill her mother, and the family escaped to her grandparent’s home in another county.
Living with her grandparents, Marjorie entered a public school for the very first time. Having always been homeschooled and in a secluded environment, Marjorie found herself without any social skills, and she became a loner as she entered high school. Unable to concentrate in school, she soon started ditching school altogether and began hanging out with a crowd at a liquor store. One day, as she was walking home, a popular football player from her school, asked her if she wanted to smoke marijuana. Before the afternoon would end, he would rape her. The years of keeping quiet had been so deeply instilled within her, she told no one of this latest violation. As a child, she had found solace in church, and her dream had been to be a pastor’s wife. After the rape, she felt totally dirty and believed no one would ever want her. She then embarked on a path which would nearly destroy her, and would ultimately consume 17 years of her life. She became promiscuous, dropped out of high school, and drugs became her constant companion.
At 15, Marjorie ran away from home and moved in with a guy who was 23. He lived in a drug house where his sister’s husband ran drugs for a cartel. The husband owed money to the cartel, and one day they came to collect. The sister asked if they were unable to raise the funds, would they be willing to take Marjorie instead. They agreed. Marjorie, overhearing this horrifying conversation, laid on the floor clutching her Bible, too paralyzed to even utter words to pray. The husband was able to raise the funds, and Marjorie was spared. She remained in the house for three years.
At 18, Marjorie’s life looked like it would turn around when she started working for a moving company. Her boss allowed her to stay at his home rent free, and she returned to school part-time. However, one day at the business, she went upstairs, and was shocked to see a marijuana grow system. The look in her boss’ eyes when he found out she had discovered his secret, was a look she will never forget. She felt real fear that day and immediately quit.
At 21, Marjorie was without a job and a place to live. She found employment as a waitress at a strip club, and eventually moved into dancing. Then she began to sell her body to regular customers. Years went by and she hated what she was doing, and at 25, wanted to commit suicide. Instead, she drowned herself in heavy drinking and drugs. She moved from cocaine to harsher drugs, including methamphetamine. She then became an escort, and suddenly found herself being trafficked by a security man at the club. Meetings were now arranged for her, and threats of harm required compliance with his every instruction. Days passed into years, until one night a crazed man, high on drugs, threatened to kill her. Understanding she had no way out of the hotel, and her life was solely within this man’s control, she realized her death was a certainty if she remained in this life. Fortune turned for her, as she met a man who would save her, at least for a time. She moved in with him, stopped using drugs, and started a pet care business. Finally, it looked like her life was turning around. But it would not last.
Marjorie next met a man who quickly stripped her of everything in her life, destroying all the good that had been so short-lived. Gone was her business, her car, and any hopes for her future. Beatings were regular, and he forced her to again use drugs. A new torture began as well, when he began labor trafficking her, forcing her to work 18-hour days. Despite working from 4:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night, she never saw any money and was totally dependent on him. Finding herself pregnant, she asked herself why she would bring a child into her intolerable world. She decided she wouldn’t. Yet her plea to God in the bathtub that dark day, was answered, and she gave birth to a perfect baby girl. The abuse continued though, until a turning point came when her daughter at 11 months old, started reacting to the horrible scenes she was witnessing. Marjorie’s mind flashed back to her own childhood when her mom did not help her, and she knew she had to get out. With a newfound strength born from the determination to save her child, she reunited with the grandparents of her lost youth, and returned to their household. This time, at age 32, there would be a happy ending.
Marjorie attended a justice conference, where she heard the inspiring words of a trafficking survivor. She joined Survivor Leader Network and Runaway Girl, and at last received the support she needed. Through their programs and the embrace of church, she began to heal. She decided she wanted to speak out against exploitation, and to help those who had suffered the trauma of trafficking, child sexual abuse, and domestic violence. She began to tell her story, and in the telling she found real healing, a complete washing and release. She returned to school to study psychology, and took leadership roles with Survivor Leader Network, Runaway Girl, Inc., Freedom from Exploitation, and other organizations. The years also brought forgiveness and a reconciliation with her mother.
In June of 2017, she started The Well Path, a non-profit organization with a mission of “shining a light on the path to real healing.” In addition to providing support groups, diversion, and educational programs, her non-profit offers emergency housing, with a goal of providing transitional and long-term housing. Marjorie finds working one-on-one with the women, helping them to breathe again, the most rewarding.
When asked what society can do to eliminate trafficking, Marjorie immediately answers we must reduce the demand and selfish greed, and raising awareness is key. Education must be freely offered about trafficking, children must be taught how to be safe, men must be taught to respect women, and prosecutions must increase. According to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, sex trafficking generates an estimated $810 million in annual revenue in San Diego alone, and is a 9.5 billion dollar industry in the United States. Marjorie said people are unaware the peak time for purchase is during working hours, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon. Marjorie tells of a fake ad placed by a task force, which resulted in 39 calls and 57 text messages within a three-hour timeframe, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Marjorie believes what could have saved her, was if someone had just asked, “Are you o.k.?” Educating people on how to recognize a victim of trafficking is one of Marjorie’s goals, and she provides the following link for detailed information: https://polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/recognize-signs. Reporting is also paramount and Marjorie provides the hotline number (888) 373-7888.
Marjorie, now 35 years old and whole, knows it is never too late for anyone to be saved and healed.
Marjorie Saylor’s website: http://www.marjoriesaylor.com
Aleida K. Wahn’s website: http://www.aleidalaw.com