Not for sale: Sex trafficking survivor shares how she found refuge in College Station

Karla Solomon’s story is etched on her body.

“So, my tattoos are very much to deal with human trafficking but in that same sentence, they are very spiritual,” said Solomon. “The broken chains obviously mean two different things. Yes, I broke free from slavery, but it wasn’t me who broke those chains, it was God.”

Solomon was a victim of human trafficking once as a child and again as an adult.

“My childhood was very rough. I was taken from my mom at two years old because my grandpa and grandma had noticed something wasn’t right,” said Solomon.

Solomon was molested before the age of two. When she 12 years old, Solomon ran away from home for the first time and confided in a neighbor.

“She started doing things that my mother wasn’t doing,” said Solomon. “So, she would wait for me at the bus stop. She would take me home and make me sandwiches after school and she started building a relationship with me. She started doing things to make me trust her.”

That trust led Solomon down the wrong path.

“She took me to a party with some older guys. I did drugs for the first time, smoked marijuana for the first time and I ended up losing my virginity at this party,” said Solomon.

The woman soon began selling Solomon to men in exchange for drugs. Solomon was trafficked for a few months before breaking free, but the trauma she had endured stayed with her.

“I kind of learned at that point if I wanted to live on the streets, sex equaled payment. Sex equaled currency in some type of way,” said Solomon. “So at 12 years old I decided to go on my own, running away, and I would sleep with guys to have a place to stay at night, or I would do what I had to do to be taken care of, as much as I could.”

Over the next fifteen years, Solomon married her husband and became a mother to three children. But while her life may seem to have been better than it once was, Solomon was still struggling from her traumatic past.

“I did the one thing that I knew how to do good when things got bad and I ran. I ran away from my kids. I ran away from my husband,” said Solomon.

As Solomon ran away from life back at home, she fell right into the hands of a very dangerous man, and before she knew it, Solomon was being forced to have sex for money, once more.

“He was creating an ad on of pictures that were not mine, but a girl that looked very similar to me, with he face blurred out, and I remember him walking over to me and showing me the ad and telling me, that he just needed me to do it one time,” said Solomon.

Over the course of 54 days, Solomon was taken from Louisiana to Texas, up to Colorado, and back.

“A lot of people don’t understand, ‘Well, Karla you were in your car, couldn’t you have left?’ I tried… I pulled over at a gas station and I remember throwing the drugs out that I had, and I remember calling my husband and telling him where I was at and who I was with,” said Solomon.

After running away, Solomon’s trafficker threatened to hurt her daughter, so Solomon went back.

Days later, Solomon ended up in College Station on Texas A&M’s move-in weekend in 2016, that’s when local and state law enforcement was able to locate her at a nearby hotel and saved her.

“And I remember walking outside, and all of these cops got around me and one of them right in my face said, “Karla! are you Karla Solomon?” said Solomon. “And I looked up and as soon as my eyes met him, I remember just crying and dropping all of my bags and falling down on the ground outside on the concrete and I remember telling them, “You guys just saved my life!”

Through Solomon’s restored faith in God, she has become one of the strongest advocates in Texas for survivors of human trafficking.

Solomon is now a Human Trafficking specialist for Mercy Gate Ministries and a survivor leader for A21 Freedom Chasers and Roy Maas Youth Alternatives.

Two years after Solomon was rescued in College Station, Amanda Buenger founded Unbound Bryan-College Station, making it their mission to support survivors of human trafficking right here in the Brazos Valley.

Karla Solomon is set to tell her story for the first time in College Station on Friday, March 26, for Unbound’s Night of Hope Event.