My name is Russell Pence and this is the story of my wife’s sex-trafficking experience when she was a very young woman. The reason I am writing this story is because my wife recently passed away and I want to share what happened to her so others will realize that we do have this problem in America and it has been happening for far longer than people realize.
I moved from Wisconsin to Spokane, WA in the early 80′s to serve in the Air Force. One winter morning I heard what sounded like a car stuck stuck in the snow and it didn’t sound like the driver was having much luck getting it unstuck. I looked out my window and saw a young woman sitting in her car who was banging her head on the steering wheel in a fit of frustration. My heart went out to her and I ran outside in my slippers to push her car to a place where her tires could regain some traction. A few minutes later the car was freed and she went off to work. That night, after she had returned home, I put a note and a bag of M&M’s on her windshield. She came over to thank me and shortly thereafter we began dating.
Within a few months I knew this was the girl I wanted to marry. I was working up the courage to ask her, but she beat me to the punch. On Sadie Hawkins Day she asked me if I would marry her. Before I could respond she said there were some things she felt I should know about her past. Her mother had forced her to have an abortion when she was only thirteen years old. She had been molested by one of her mother’s many boyfriends and had become pregnant as a result. After having the abortion her mother sent her to San Francisco to live with an aunt and uncle. A few months later, she ran away and with no other place to go began living on the streets. She was pimped out by a few guys and eventually even ended up at the Mustang Ranch in Reno, NV. She told me this with tears in her eyes expecting me to reject her. I kissed her tear streaked face and said “God loves you and so do I, and yes I would love to marry you and I will make you my wife!”
God blessed us with a son even though the doctors said she would never conceive children due to complications from her previous abortion. We moved from Spokane to a small rural town and enjoyed our life in the country. We were married twenty three years and nine months. Four days after her forty eighth birthday she passed away in her sleep and went home to be with God. I was so blessed by God throughout my marriage to my sweet wife, Shauna. Girls who are victims of sex-trafficking deserve to be loved and lifted up from the rejection and brokenness they have experienced. I am so thankful there are organizations who are raising public awareness about sex trafficking and doing the work needed to provide healing and protection for these victims.
Thank you, New Horizons.