Human Trafficking 101
Jan 16, 2019 12:00 PM
Julia Walsh
Human Trafficking 101

Julia Walsh is an advocate for sex-trafficking survivors.  She is a 26-year old Arlington resident, who was forced into sex trafficking when she was 18 by her boyfriend, who wanted cash for his drug habit.  Then a young Grapevine teen, she trusted him in the dark world of sex trafficking, where half of the victims are children.

Born in Russia, Walsh and her twin brother were placed in an orphanage and later adopted to parents in the U.S.  For Julia, repeated instances of separation, isolation, abuse, and abandonment in the orphanage left her with emotional scarring and post-traumatic stress, making her vulnerable later on to human traffickers. Her family lived in Florida and later moved to Grapevine, where Julia attended private schools in elementary, middle and high school in Tarrant County.

As a teen Julia was depressed, drinking and smoking marijuana regularly.  At 18 she enrolled at Angelo State University in San Angelo, but never finished her first semester.  Instead, she was forced into sex trafficking during her freshman year. That was her life for three years, moving from trafficker to trafficker.

Walsh and her last trafficker were arrested in June 2013 in Mobile, Alabama and extradited to face charges in Texas, where her recovery began. By then, she had been sold for sex in 20 states and most major cities in Texas.  Her trafficker was sentenced to 40 years in prison.  Charges against Julia were dropped once investigators determined she was a victim and not a willing prostitute.

Julia Walsh has been free from her traffickers for three years, and now shares her story with other survivors, law enforcement officials and counselors at sex-trafficking conferences. She has testified before Texas legislators in support of a bill for human trafficking survivors and works with several non-profits dedicated to assisting other survivors in transitioning out of the sex trafficking industry.  She works as an office manager for a Fort Worth general contractor and is pursuing a degree in social work.

“There is hope,” Walsh says, referring to survivors.  “The trafficked are not forgotten.”