Trafficking in Portland

Another Survivor in California

This survivor was a girl named Natasha Herzig. She was 19, in a mall where a woman approached her about a job selling make up. She agreed to meet with the woman at a restaurant which she became more nervous about while there. During the meeting she excused herself with the underlying intent to leave and not come back.

When she got to the parking lot, she realized she was trapped. A man was waiting in a parking lot with a gun who then forced her into a black mercedes.

Her traffickers name was James Vernon, with an alias of Spyder. Herzig says after she was kidnapped she was forced into “mental chains”. She endured several acts of physical and sexual abuse.

In efforts to not gain the attention of a missing persons case, Vernon had Herzig call her parents. During these phone calls Vernon monitored them where he told her exactly what to say. According to this article Herzig’s parent were under the impression she was fine. The thought of her being trafficked into sex slavery never even crossed their minds.

While Herzig was enslaved, Vernon controlled her by threatening her family, beating her and then forced her into prostitution.

Herzig along along with other girls were taken to sport events and other conventions where they repeatedly sold for sex. According to this article, these male buyers were paying thousands of dollars for these girls.

After enduring this torture for 10 months, she finally grew so fearful for her life she knew she had to get out. She claims her breaking point was after witnessing another one of the girls being beaten so badly her eyes were almost out of their sockets.

According to this article she told someone to call her parents. The police then came and she and her friend were rescued. Unfortunately, Vernon had vanished.

Later in the article it stated that Vernon was later arrested is now facing charges for promoting prostitution and second-degree assault in New York.

FACT: NO specific law against sex trafficking was established until 2004!

I was pleased that Herzig brought up an interesting point that many articles don’t talk about: the process of healing for the victim as they become a survivor.

In an interview Herzig said,”When you feel like you’re worth nothing, you’re going to treat your body and yourself like you are worth nothing, and while you’re healing you’re making a lot of mistakes because you’re trying to find out who you are”.

This is an extremely difficult process obviously. The hardest part is reclaiming your self esteem. Victims often make many mistakes while trying to regain their self esteem. Herzig talks about how she made a series of X-rated films during her healing process. She talks about how many victims resort to this, night clubs or on their streets. In her opinion they do this action is a reflection of  their self worth or as self reflection.

I was happy to read that Herzig is now married with children. It gives me hope to know that victims who go through this horrible lifestyle can truly become a survivor.


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