LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – On Sunday, between the coffee and books, Adira James sat with a friend and laughed over a cup of coffee, at a bookstore called Hooked in Lansing.
By 5 p.m. she was in front of people sharing passages from her new book: “What They Couldn’t Take”.
This is the first book James has ever finished and it’s all about her life. Through poems, letters and stories, she recounts how she survived being sex trafficked by her parents.
James, who is from Detroit, said the trafficking started when she was just two years old, and continued until she was 12.
“It’s so ugly to think about that somebody’s family, especially life for my situation, my parents,” James said. “You just don’t want to think that that’s happening. But unfortunately, in terms of child sex trafficking, it’s much, much, much more likely that the child knows the person.”
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 93% of child victims know their abuser. The organization also states that every 9 minutes, authorities receive evidence or reports of child sexual abuse.
However, James believes that the number of these cases is probably higher than what is reported.
“We can’t expect children to be able to articulate what’s going on, so the numbers aren’t going to be what the numbers really are,” James expressed.
That is one of the reasons she said she wrote a book, which includes a combination of her writing as a child and in recent years.
In one of her poems “One Day”, she wrote, “The child of every age separating to hide, evade, survive, trapped in a sticky web of trauma you continue to inhale.”
James said she hopes she can help others avoid that trauma through conversation and education.
“You don’t have to make the final decision,” James stated. “You don’t have to break up a family. But if something is wrong, then the officials, whether it be police or child services, they know what to do in order to save that child and that’s the most important thing.”
She also added that along with speaking up when you see something, those who are in a child-related field, like child protective services, teachers, and more, should receive education on how to approach and spot child trafficking patterns.
“That is who is most likely going to be able to catch these things are child-serving professionals,” James said.
She said some of the things that could be seen as child trafficking patterns are malnutrition, long and multiple absences from school, bad social interaction, and permanent bruises.
However, she added that these examples do not necessarily mean that a child is being abused or trafficked.
“All kids get bruises, all kids get cuts and things, so not everything means it’s abuse, but when you add all those little things together.”
There is more about James’ life and familial sex trafficking in her book, which can be purchased at multiple bookstores throughout Michigan and online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Below are resources for reporting trafficking and sexual abuse:
National Human Trafficking Hotline:
- By phone: 1-888-373-7888
- By email: email@example.com
- By text: text HELP to 233733 (BEFREE)
- Online chat: www.humantraffickinghotline.org
National Sexual Assault Hotline:
- By phone: 800-656-4673
- Online chat: www.online.rainn.org