I thought for a very long time about writing this post. I wasn’t sure if it seemed appropriate for a blog that primarily focuses on the supernatural and urban legends. However, I think that if you are here then, like me, you probably like to be scared and this can lead us to enter into dangerous situations. I have wandered around isolated areas, or, without telling anyone, gone alone to investigate some creepy place or other and in doing so, have put myself at risk. I feel very strongly that it is important to remind you all out there that in fact what we should really be afraid of are other people, at least the ones who may wish us harm.
In the USA alone it is roughly estimated that around 2,000 people a day go missing. Each year about one million children are reported missing (figures here). There are various reasons for these people going missing, some start new lives, sadly some will end their lives or be murdered/abducted by people who may or may not be caught. But recently there has been an interest in the issue of human trafficking.
Have you ever heard of Amy Bradley (pictured below)? In 1998 she vanished from a Caribbean cruise ship where she was holidaying with her parents and brother.
Extensive searches of land and sea were undertaken, but no trace of her was found. They discounted ideas that she had drowned due to her being a trained lifeguard and the ship being so close to shore at the time. Her life in general was happy, so the idea of her running away to start over also seemed unlikely.
There were subsequent sightings of Amy following this. A woman with identical tattoos was spotted by tourists. Amy has a Tasmanian devil spinning a basketball on her shoulder, sun on her lower back, a Chinese symbol on her right ankle and a Gecko on her navel.
Photos of a young woman, closely resembling Bradley were emailed to her parents, which led to speculation that she had been sold into sexual slavery. An American sailor later reported that a woman had approached him in a brothel who told him her name was Amy Bradley and asked for his help. Two men appeared and escorted her back upstairs. For unknown reasons the sailor did not report this for some time and by the time he did, the brothel had burned down.
This case is often linked to Natalee Holloway (pictured below) who also vanished, this time on a trip to Aruba. In this case one of the suspects involved in her disappearance stated she had been sold into sexual slavery.
No trace of Natalee or Amy has ever been found. This is frightening because it reminds me of how many people each year go missing and are never found. Nor is it something that is limited to travellers. In the UK there has been a lot of information coming to light recently about historical abuse and the prevalence of sex trafficking circles. If you wish to read more about the two cases then please see the related articles section.
Updated in 2017 to say that they may or may not have found the remains of Natalee. Her father says that he has submitted remains found in Aruba for DNA testing, but there are some doubts about whether his claim is true. A couple of articles here and here.
I hope this post reminds people of how careful you must be when travelling, even if it is within your own country. But it is not only travellers who are at risk. If you are meeting someone online, make sure you are doing so in a public place and that you have told people where you will be. Keep track of who your children are speaking to online. If a job offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Here is a guide on how to avoid being a victim of human trafficking. You can find more detailed information under the articles section.
Stay safe. If you don’t trust someone then don’t be afraid to take precautions. Better to feel rude or silly than the alternative.
- Jordan Van Der Sloot, Suspect in Natalee Holloway Disappearance, Set To Marry While in Prison (hngn.com)
- Police in Aruba make an arrest in Natalee Holloway case (shellyhaus65.wordpress.com)
- Kidnapped and forgotten (brobrubel.wordpress.com)
- Natalie Holloway’s Father Files Papers Asking for a Presumption of Death (lawprofessors.typepad.com)
- Sex And The City: The Disturbing Reality Of Sexual Slavery In America (ofdustandkings.com)
- The Increasingly Outrageous Case Of Joran Van Der Sloot (buzzfeed.com)
- Karen Angel: In the Media, Bias Persists (huffingtonpost.com)
- The case against empathy (3quarksdaily.com)
- National Enquirer seeks dismissal of lawsuit filed by Natalee Holloway’s mother (al.com)