Game over has been tattooed on Ms Snow’s knuckles.
Game over has been tattooed on Ms Snow’s knuckles.

Sex trafficking survivor: 'I didn't know I'd been marked'

ELLE Snow was just 19 when she was approached by an older man who would change her life forever.

It started as a whirlwind romance. The pair bumped in to each other time and again around Humboldt County in California. It felt like a series of coincidences. He called it fate. It was neither of the two. It was part of "The Game".

Things progressed quickly. He met her family and the two made plans to move to Sacramento where she would be away from family and friends. It wasn't until there that her boyfriend's intentions became clear.

"I met my trafficker the same way a lot of us do," Ms Snow revealed to CNN. "You always hear, 'I met a guy'. He met my mom, he met my family. I didn't realise that I had been marked."


US woman Elle Snow has shared her incredible story on sex trafficking in the hope of raising awareness about the issue.
US woman Elle Snow has shared her incredible story on sex trafficking in the hope of raising awareness about the issue. CNN

The change happened quickly and dramatically. One morning her boyfriend came into her room with six inch heels and a tiny pink skirt and told her to "get to work". She thought he was joking but she was wrong. Soon she was trapped, threatened with violence and unable to escape her situation.

"He took my clothes, my shoes, my keys, my phone, and eventually he started saying he is not who he said he was, that he's actually a pimp, and this is how prostitutes are made," she said.

"I've never worn pink in my life. And he wanted me to put these on and told me I had to get to work."

His plans for her were detailed and disturbing. He demanded she change her name to "Angel" and took her directly to a brothel. It would not be her last. She spent eight months being moved from brothel to brothel in the San Francisco Bay area.

She was "beat" and "bloody" at times and at others was "strangled" and "dragged to a car". "My throat was swollen and black and blue," she told CNN.

Eventually, with the help of a friend in 2014, she managed to escape. She testified against her trafficker, David Bernard Anderson, who was on trial accused of trafficking a 16-year-old girl.

Anderson was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison.

Ms Snow said what happened to her was called The Game which acts as a set of rules for men tricking girls into prostitution.

Now working to fight the abuse and educate people on sex trafficking, she set up non-profit organisation It's Game Over, which aims to provide advocacy for survivors.

The anti-sex trafficking organisation also aims to educate people on preventing and identifying victims and people at risk. She also investigates trafficking online, helping to identify victims and patterns.

According to Polaris, an organisation which fights to eradicate modern slavery, sex trafficking robs people of both their lives and their freedom.

It also reveals that sex trafficking remains a huge issue in the United States and across the world.

Three men were jailed in Florida in May after six women from different counties were trafficked to brothels and forced to have sex with dozens of men every day, CBS reported.

A seven-month investigation started after a woman told detectives she fell pregnant after being forced to have sex with 120 men a week inside a trailer.

Closer to home, 17-year-old girl from Guinea was lured to Australia under the guise of work in the past year, before being held captive and raped by a string of men in Sydney.

The teen turned up at the Asylum Seeker Centre in Newtown on April 27 this year, claiming she had escaped from a nearby unit in the inner west suburb where she was assaulted for weeks on end.

She told police she was picked up by a woman named "Nicole" who took her to police. State Crime Command's sex crimes squad commander Mick Haddow said "there are a lot of questions and not enough answers".

According to Polaris, victims are lured or forced to become sex workers through violence and threats. In the US alone since 2007, 22,191 sex trafficking cases have been recorded.

According to the International Labor Organizaion around 4.5 million are sexually exploited across the world.