Sex Trafficking Survivor Reflects on Cleveland Kidnap Case, Offers Victims Advice

PHOTO: Sharon Richard knows too well the burden of living through sex abuse in horrendous captivity and then struggling with the after-effects.
Share
Copy

Cheers rang out through a Cleveland neighborhood this week when three young women held captive in a house of horrors for years were finally returned home.

But what happens when the cheers die down and the harsh reality of starting over after a life filled with terror begins?

Sharon Richard of Toledo, Ohio, just 90 miles from Cleveland, knows too well the burden of living through sex abuse in horrendous captivity and then struggling with the after-effects.

Today, Sharon is 23, and she is a sex trafficking survivor.

"Seeing that, [the Cleveland missing women case], it brought back some of the memories, some of the things that I went through," Sharon said this week in an interview with "Nightline."

"I couldn't imagine going through what I went through for 10 years," she continued. "I mean, that's just torture and I couldn't even imagine what they went through."

Both Sharon and her first cousin were kidnapped as young teenagers and forced into prostitution for nearly two weeks before they were rescued. They first talked to ABC News about their ordeal in 2008. At the time, they were still teenagers so ABC News changed their names and disguised them in wigs for their own protection during the interview.

The girls said their nightmare started innocently enough with walking to a Wendy's located on a corner near their home.

"It was just getting dark because it was raining," Sharon said at the time. "Then, a white Lincoln pulled up beside us."

Sitting in the passenger seat was a man Sharon said she thought was the father of one of her classmates. At the wheel was an attractive woman she didn't recognize, but thought looked harmless. The two offered the girls a ride to the Wendy's. All of a sudden, all those warnings they had heard so many times were ignored and they got in the car.

"My mom has told me a million times, 'No, don't get into the car with strangers,' but I thought I knew the guy," Sharon said. "So, it was stupid."

After they got in the car, the couple drove past the Wendy's, saying they wanted to get Chinese food instead. But there would be no Chinese food. The cousins were taken against their will to a house in Toledo and held prisoner. Once inside the house, the terrified girls said they were separated by two women who called themselves Envy and Kashmir.

"Envy takes me downstairs, and Kashmir takes my cousin upstairs," Sharon said. "She explained to me what I had to do, that I had to sleep with men for money and stuff."

"She just came out and said it," she continued. "She was just like, she was so comfortable with it. She was just like, 'yeah, you know, you have to sleep with men for money.' And I'm like, 'what?' She was like, 'you'll be a prostitute for Daddy.' That's what she called him, and she's like, 'and you have to call him Daddy.'"

It was the first of many nights of terror. The cousins were forced into a world where sex was bought and sold. The day after they were kidnapped, Sharon said she, her cousin and the two women went to a hotel, where a male stranger got to pick which one he wanted to have perform oral sex on him.

"And he picked me," Sharon said.

Prior to that day, Sharon said she had only had sex one time with a boyfriend, but she would go on to be forced to perform sexual acts with multiple strangers for money.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston stopped a would be smuggler from bringing nearly 7 ounces of cocaine into the country in tamales, Aug. 22, 2014.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Real Housewife Phaedra Parks Lists Home in Suburban Atlanta
Real Housewives of Atlanta star, Phaedra Parks, has listed her 4,000-square-foot home with 5 bedrooms and 6 baths for $340,900.
In this image from video posted on Facebook, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush participates in the ice bucket challenge with the help of his wife, Laura Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine.
(Courtesy George W. Bush Presidential Center/AP)