Meet Sheila White, an American activist in the fight against human trafficking. Born in 1988 in New York, Sheila grew up in a troubled home where she was abused and ended up in foster care as a teenager. Feeling lonely and confused, Sheila met a man who would soon become her pimp.
This pimp forced her into sex work and exposed her to extreme violence. But, as she explains, he had such a strong hold on her that she couldn’t leave him. As she says, “As awful as the situation may be, there are needs that are being met. If a girl is … homeless, if she doesn’t have nowhere to go, and she doesn’t have food or shelter, or if ultimately, if she doesn’t feel loved, those are the things that her exploiter is giving her. And he’s the only thing that’s consistent in her life” (National Public Radio).
After several arrests, Sheila was court ordered to work with Girls Education and Mentoring Services (GEMS). From that time forward, she was able to escape her trafficker and turn her life around. She now works with GEMS to help other victims of sex trafficking to escape their exploiters and rebuild their lives.
She is now attending college to pursue a bachelor’s degree in social work. She has been involved in the documentary Not My Life, has spoken at many conferences, and was even awarded the Clinton Global Initiative Award by President Obama.
Sheila is using her own experiences to help young girls in similar situations. She is working hard to help young women to be freed from their traffickers and to provide a platform where survivors have the support and comfort to become leaders in the fight against human trafficking.
Sheila is an example to all young people who have been exploited and trafficked, that they can be freed from their exploiters and they can get back up on their feet and be whoever they want to be. She is an incredibly brave advocate for women’s rights, working right at the ground level to protect and empower young women like herself.