In the Know: A Survivor's Perspective (April 2017)

Words are so powerful. They have the ability to breathe life, and they have the ability to cut down and destroy. Since the beginning of creation, God spoke, and so it was. For me, it’s just such a word that caused a paradigm shift: human trafficking.

My journey of healing hasn’t been easy; however, knowing that I was trafficked as a child has helped me realize I am not that which has been done to me, even though I have testified as a former prostitute. Prostituted is a verb not a noun, and this has reinforced the notion of knowing just how loved and valuable I am as a daughter to my King. That statement might sound peculiar to a few people … to suddenly realize your worth once you realized you were enslaved and told you were created for men’s pleasure.

So, again, words … I love to share them through the art of poetry and music. These are such an amazing release and healing for me, and they are what the Lord used to help me as He moved upon me and through me to the very core of my being, where lies had formed and strongholds guarded over my heart. The Lord began to chip away at my stone heart to bring me a heart of flesh to receive His words over me. My hope is that for anyone who hears and or reads my story through the creative path of poetry will be touched and moved in a new way to see with new eyes.

I wanted to share with you one of the poems the Lord poured out of me one night as I had just witnessed a night of “slam poets” in downtown Austin, Texas. I was inspired and in awe.

You saw me; you knew me,

Even before I took my first breath you had a plan for me – a destiny.

Even with all the circumstances surrounding me,

You knew it would take some time, time? It’s on your side.

As you waited in anticipation for me to arrive upon this earth,

You grieved.

My life began to unfold with the first attack of the enemy – Satan

Bringing upon me a spirit of discouragement and rejection

For my parents were wanting a boy, not a fourth girl.

They didn’t see what the Father saw; Satan filled their minds with lies.

You saw me, you knew me,

Even before I took my first breath you had a plan for me – a destiny.

Even with all the circumstances surrounding me,

You knew it would take some time, time? It’s on your side.

Time went on;

The attacks increased,

Satan wanted to make sure discouragement and rejection were strengthened in my life.

More lies,

Fear and abandonment entered in

At the age of five.

Left inside a dark, deserted church,

Doors locked,

Me screaming, pounding on the door for my mom.

She was nowhere to be found.

Satan began to whisper

You’ll never fit in, you’re not part of this family,

You weren’t wanted to begin with.

And I bought it, hook, line and sinker!

But, You saw me, you knew me,

Even before I took my first breath you had a plan for me – a destiny.

Even with all the circumstances surrounding me,

You knew it would take some time, time? It’s on your side.

Lies continued to form,

Deception, corruption, destruction

At the age of nine.

A spirit of death overtook my soul.

I was introduced to the lie of why I was created,

For men’s pleasure.

 Numbness overtook me;

Walls of protection built up around me.

Able to see out, but not feeling a part of anything.

Death - No purpose - No Value – No body,

I was created for evil.

But, You saw me, you knew me,

Even before I took my first breath you had a plan for me – a destiny.

Even with all the circumstances surrounding me,

You knew it would take some time, time? It’s on your side.

A whisper came; a gentle breeze crossed my face

Is someone calling my name?

Confused and torn

Did I hear clearly?

Someone died for “me?”

I’m not worthy.

Jesus loves me?

A pure motive,

Love like I’ve never seen.

You saw me, you knew me,

Even before I took my first breath you had a plan for me – a destiny.

Even with all the circumstances surrounding me,

You knew it would take some time. Today?

Today is that time!

The truth is, growing up I never really felt alive. I grew up in a large family -- seven children -- and I was right in the middle. A family who had a lot of secrets and religious beliefs that brought isolation, judgment, rejection, abandonment and a lack of safe boundaries. “Children are to be seen not heard” and “You don’t have an ounce of brain in you” were words spoken over me growing up, so it was very familiar when I was asked to perform sexually, to be seen and not heard, no depth in relationship. What I wanted wasn’t important. I had no value or worth. Yet, as I grew, I still was naïve in believing there could be happiness and that there were those who would have my best interest at heart. I would trust and be abused again and again. Being a teenager, even after having been sexually abused, I still had dreams. I loved to sing. I would also find myself being drawn to music, where I could escape into another dimension … of course, with the use of drugs, especially psychedelics, like acid. The material world was very appealing, especially to a young adolescent. Suicidal tendencies became my norm. I believed I had no soul. I believed I was created for evil and for men's pleasure. I didn't believe I had a right to feel anything, not even anger. The only emotions I claimed as my own were self-loathing and self-hatred. My belief system accepted that my value and worth were exclusive to giving others pleasure, even at the expense of my own.

I remember being five and staying with my aunt and uncle, who were a safe place for me. I encountered God’s presence in their home. I remember thinking that if Satan could destroy the family, he would destroy Christianity. Oh, the lies the enemy speaks to us regarding our families, our children.

The Lord gave me a song that really ministered to me in healing the little girl in me. It also put a fire in my soul to see our children safe, protected and valued.

ANOTHER CHILD

They’re too young to understand,

So we can all just pretend,

We don’t need to talk about it.

What they don’t know won’t hurt them.

Another child, mm, mm … Another child, mm, mm.

Another child is being locked away

Wondering when they’ll be able to come out and play

Another child, mm, mm … Another child, mm, mm.

Oh, the hurt inside

Must be locked away.

No one needs to know.

No words of pain to say,

Another child, mm, mm … Another child, mm, mm.

Oh, the secrets we keep

That are hidden away

Will continue to haunt us

All the rest of our days.

To the next generation, it will continue on,

To the next generation, the curse will carry on and on and on.

Another child is being locked away

Wondering when they’ll be able to come out and play

Another child, mm, mm … Another child, mm, mm.

All things hidden in darkness,

Release your light on them.

Oh, Lord you’ve known all along,

No longer can we pretend.

Take us to the place where the healing begins,

Where we will no longer continue in this generational sin.

Release the child, Oh, Lord, release the child.

How do we show up in our families? Are we really present; do we really see and value the one’s right in our own homes?

I still look back on my life and am amazed at how I got out alive. I was living in a home in Florida, prostituting, getting high and drunk daily. I was just 16, when I first officially entered ‘the life.’ The next few years, while a blur to me, were full of painful and dehumanizing experiences which only enforced this belief system I had that my worth and value were exclusive to servicing others. I still don’t understand it, but one day, the manager, who intimately oversaw the entire operation, grabbed me and threw my stuff in his suitcase. He kept telling me to trust him. He drove me two hours on the highway and dropped me off and told me to never come back. He informed me that I was in process of getting sold and that if I didn’t leave, I would never get out alive. I never went back there but found myself still prostituting in other cities.

Months later, I ended up back in my hometown and back on drugs and getting pulled into a scheme from an older man who was creating a prostitution ring in Chicago. I confronted him and told him he was from the devil. He choked me in an attempt to take my life. A few other people pushed him off of me and forced him out of the house. He shot several bullets through the windows. Somehow, the bullets whizzed right past us. I should’ve died then. I told God that if I somehow got out alive, I would completely commit my life to Him.

I did get out alive and went to see my aunt and uncle who I knew were Christians and could teach me more about this man named Jesus. They led me to a group called “Kings Kids,” so I could go through drug rehabilitation. I went and lived there for a year, until I was no longer dependent on drugs. I will admit, though, that my identity was still in “sex.” I got into an abusive relationship after I left the group home, but the Lord was still with me and opened doors to allow me to escape; I got an amazing job, even though I didn’t have a high school diploma, let alone a college degree. This job would lead me to transfer to upstate New York. I took it. I then met my now husband, Dan. He is like Hosea in the Bible! He’s never even smoked a cigarette, let alone pot. He wasn’t a partier; he didn’t sleep around; he wasn’t into pornography; and the list goes on. He was a computer programmer. The Lord told me I was going to marry him on our second date. I was shocked, because he was nothing like anyone I had ever met before. (Yes, I love to listen to the Lord. After everything I’ve been through, He is a safe place, and His words are healing.)

We have been on this journey together ever since. We will be celebrating 36 years of marriage this coming September. I will admit, the first 11 years, I walked with very poor views of myself, not believing I deserved to be happy or to have a family, that my husband was too good for me. I was suicidal, in and out of hospitals for six years, and diagnosed with manic depression. I still had self-hatred and unworthiness. I felt my husband and children deserved better. So, when I was in my 30s, I decided to go back into the darkness of the business world and sexually entertained men again. I didn’t believe I was a good mother to my two children and was planning to take off to California. This went on for one year. It broke my husband’s heart; he tried to help me, but I was unreachable. He realized he needed to remove our two children from my influence and began divorce proceedings. At the time, I co-owned a flower shop business, and one of my customers came in and asked if she could pray for me. I broke down in tears, because I knew I had completely turned my back on God.

She took me to church with her … revival was happening then, and I finally began to get real deliverance and healing. The Lord was moving upon and through the church powerfully, which is also when my daughter, Leanna (who had just turned 10 years old) had an encounter with Jesus. Leanna found the courage to speak up about how she herself had been going through seven years of sexual abuse from a relative. My husband and I bonded together and fought for our daughter. The Lord began to teach us about generational sin and iniquity. We didn’t go through with the divorce, and while it was very painful at the time, it was so worth it. We have never been the same since.

I can honestly say today I walk with total abandonment to Jesus, and I am NAKED AND UNASHAMED! I love who I am; the glass box has been shattered; and I AM ALIVE, LOVED AND WORTHY!!

A few years ago, when my daughter realized that my story growing up coincided with human trafficking, she requested that I take her on my journey through healing as a documentary to tell my story in order to help others. Up until that moment, I had never realized I was trafficked. I just thought it was some horrible choice I made; I had a twisted worldview of my identity and who I was. Realizing that I didn’t have to identify with the term “prostitute,” and that I was prostituted, or rather trafficked, was powerful and even more restorative.

My relationship with my family has changed to where we have a deep appreciation and admiration for each other. I love being a mom now (and grandmother) and am no longer afraid to receive love from my husband, daughter or son. We can argue, yet know we are still valued. We know we can count on each other for prayer and support. We are able to speak into each other’s life – as long as it’s not out of control or manipulation. We are quick to forgive and repent for wrong actions or heart attitudes. We love hanging together; relationships are what matter most. We are all eternal beings. Money, power, greed, material things are not.

I long to give hope, to help others see true value in themselves. Let us not judge and believe those on the streets, strip clubs, and in prostitution are a hopeless group of people. They, too, can have a great future and a hope. Even though I had a lack of education and came out of a life of abuse, drugs, alcohol, prostitution, shame, guilt, fear, hate, rage, anger, control, manipulation, I am now living a life where many doors have opened for me. I have worn many more hats, and now the words I receive and who I am are a wife, mother, legal assistant, director of non-profit, bookkeeper, manager, singer/songwriter, poet, speaker, encourager, beloved of the most High God!

Together we will win this war against human trafficking (slavery)! When you isolate yourself and walk alone, it leads to defeat! We must fight this war together in unity with love, patience, truth, justice, mercy and faith.  It affects all of us, even if we choose to turn our backs or to hide. It still affects us all! Let’s be part of the solution. We were created for such a time as this! We can change the course of history! I imagine it. I believe it and I pursue it! Every human being is worth being known and loved. Know the environment around you and your loved ones. Your children do not need a right to privacy in your own home, especially on social media. Be involved. There are tools and information available. TAT is a great resource. Have a neighborhood info meeting to educate your neighbors regarding human trafficking.

There is more slavery today (20.7 million slaves) than at any other time in history. Let that sink in for a minute. More slaves today than any other time in HISTORY. I believe the very core of this is the breakdown of the family, and until we see the family unit restored and valued, this evil will continue. We must bear arms together to fight against this injustice, not in the way that the world battles, but the way the Lord battles. Value your families; know your neighbors; community is valuable. There’s a generation that’s gone before us who have accepted pornography, who’ve accepted the abuse of women and children, who think it is okay to use a human being for their own pleasure, without considering where that other person has come from or what they have endured or who they even are.

I’m believing for a new generation of young men and women who will say “no,” that buying other humans for their own pleasure is not okay. I’m believing for the RISE of a new generation who will delight in seeing people set free, seeing people treated valuably, and not as a sexual object or a sexual commodity. I believe a new generation is rising up to war against greed, the love of money and possessions … a generation who will stand up and say no to pornography, who will stand up and say no to strip clubs, who will stand up and say no to purchasing another human being, who will value the time they have with their children and even seek to see those who have been abandoned into a loving and caring family. Let us not build our own kingdoms but let go and surrender to the One who has given us all authority for our children. Let us value and protect their innocence. Let us empower our children, so that they can see their own value and worth, to know they were not created for the expense of others, but for a loving Father who desires nothing more than to delight in us, and we in Him. Our creator wants to speak life, love, innocence, worthiness, and truth into our souls, as He did so long ago and is still doing today. Let us take up our true identity, as sons and daughters of a loving and benevolent King!

Psalm 27 – The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life, whom shall I dread? … although my father and my mother have abandoned me, yet the Lord will take me up, adopt me as His child … I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

I am NOT grateful for what I’ve been through. I am grieved at what is still happening to our children and the evil that lurks to destroy them when they are at their most vulnerable place. Satan doesn’t play fair. He lies to us when we are children; and when we don’t have adults that are truly healed and whole, they, too, are used of the enemy to bring more harm and trauma. I am grieved that the systems of this world have fed into the system of darkness in bringing more harm and trauma to our children.

I am grateful the Lord has rescued me, restored me, healed me and given me authority to take back all that has been stolen from me. I am grateful that He is taking what has happened to me and using it for good to bring light to this dark place of human trafficking.

I leave you with another song I wrote after a beautiful prayer time and felt His presence so strong. I believe this is where it starts for all of creation and where we will learn to love out of a pure motive. Let’s learn how to be a child:

I WANT TO PLAY WITH YOU

THROUGH THE DAY AND THROUGH THE NIGHT.

I WANT TO RUN WITH YOU

THROUGH THE FIELDS AND TO THE MOUNTAIN TOPS.

FOR YOU HAVE TAUGHT ME HOW TO BE A CHILD OF THE KING.

YOU PICK ME UP IN YOUR ARMS,

TWIRL ME, TILL WE BOTH FALL DOWN.

OUR HEADS SPINNING ROUND AND ROUND,

LAUGHING, OH SUCH A BEAUTIFUL SOUND.

FOR YOU HAVE TAUGHT ME HOW TO BE A CHILD OF THE KING.

WHEN I COME TO YOU AND REST IN YOUR PRESENCE,

YOU AMAZE ME SO MUCH MORE THAN YOU DID BEFORE.

FOR YOU HAVE TAUGHT ME HOW TO BE A CHILD OF THE KING.

OH PLAY, DANCE, SING, BE FREE, YOU ARE A CHILD OF THE KING.

Cynthia Borsellino grew up in a small town in Indiana.  Her adolescent years were marked by several difficult life changing events which forced her to leave home in her teen years. During the vulnerable ages between 16 and 19 years old, Cynthia found herself chained to a world of terror and darkness as a victim of sex trafficking. Having her childhood ripped away from her, she never obtained a high school diploma. Some would think that having been a victim of sex trafficking and not finishing a formal education would be a weakness, but Cynthia has chosen to look at them as stepping stones.  She has accumulated a wealth of experience working in various corporate organizations in accounting, quality control, real estate, and law.  She is currently employed as an office manager and accounting director while working towards her commercial real estate license.  Cynthia and her husband, Dan, also started a non-profit organization in 1997 to help the elderly, children, and their families. They did this through projects involving restoration and education using the Arts.  Along with this, Cynthia also volunteers as Williamson County Juvenile Detention Outreach Coordinator for "Traffick911" and serves in numerous capacities at Gateway North Austin Church. Cynthia does not view herself as a victim of human trafficking; but a survivor who is thriving.  And, someone who empowers women to identify their passions in life and how to achieve them, regardless of the past. Cynthia has been married to her loving, supportive husband, Dan, for 35 years, is a mother of two children, Michael and Leanna, a mother-in-law to Roxanne and Mike, and Nonni (Grandmother) to 3 amazing grandchildren and another on the way.  

Cynthia Borsellino grew up in a small town in Indiana.  Her adolescent years were marked by several difficult life changing events which forced her to leave home in her teen years. During the vulnerable ages between 16 and 19 years old, Cynthia found herself chained to a world of terror and darkness as a victim of sex trafficking.

Having her childhood ripped away from her, she never obtained a high school diploma. Some would think that having been a victim of sex trafficking and not finishing a formal education would be a weakness, but Cynthia has chosen to look at them as stepping stones.  She has accumulated a wealth of experience working in various corporate organizations in accounting, quality control, real estate, and law.  She is currently employed as an office manager and accounting director while working towards her commercial real estate license. 

Cynthia and her husband, Dan, also started a non-profit organization in 1997 to help the elderly, children, and their families. They did this through projects involving restoration and education using the Arts.  Along with this, Cynthia also volunteers as Williamson County Juvenile Detention Outreach Coordinator for "Traffick911" and serves in numerous capacities at Gateway North Austin Church.


Cynthia does not view herself as a victim of human trafficking; but a survivor who is thriving.  And, someone who empowers women to identify their passions in life and how to achieve them, regardless of the past.

Cynthia has been married to her loving, supportive husband, Dan, for 35 years, is a mother of two children, Michael and Leanna, a mother-in-law to Roxanne and Mike, and Nonni (Grandmother) to 3 amazing grandchildren and another on the way.