LIFESTYLE

We Need To Talk About A Horrific Attempted Abduction – It Happened To One Of Us

Human Trafficking

We know. That headline was probably just as horrid for you to read as it was for us to write. Today we’re departing from our usual style and beauty content to share a really difficult story with you. A personal and harrowing account of an attempted abduction that happened to our very own Social Media Manager, Alissa.

It’s estimated that over 1 million people are trafficked each year for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor. We all know human trafficking exists, and that abductions occur every day, but it’s easy (and often most comfortable) to brush away any concern with a “not me,” “not here” mentality.

Human trafficking IS a global problem. It’s happening in affluent neighborhoods, and in our own backyards. As women, we know to be cautious in stores, parking lots, parking garages, and when walking at night (to name a few)… but sadly, the potential for harm doesn’t stop there. We don’t want to scare you but we do want to educate you about the risks, how to be vigilant, and measures you can take to protect yourself and loved ones. We’ll also share some common myths and misconceptions to ultimately quiet the “this can’t happen to me” voice in your head.

You can find more of our We Need To Talk About topics and conversations here.

 

Human trafficking, sex trafficking, how to protect your self from being a victim of human trafficking, safety tips for women, common myths about human trafficking, erin Busbee, Busbee style, fashion over 40

Alissa’s Story

I count myself a very observant and cautious person. I have read and heard countless women’s stories regarding suspicious activity that indicated a possible attempt at abduction. I knew the basic red flags to look for, but NEVER did I expect what happened to me

Last year on Halloween night, I set out to trick-or-treat with my two young children in our neighborhood. The neighborhood is small, nestled in a quiet and affluent area, filled with many friendly faces I’ve known for years. We set out early with a plan to make a quick pass through the neighborhood before dinner. It was overcast and drizzling, but still light. There was one couple with a young child a few houses in front of us. I had never met them, but had seen them walking in the neighborhood before.

Myth #1) Human Trafficking Only Happens in Foreign Countries or in Poor Neighborhoods
Human trafficking exists in every country. It’s a problem nationwide—in cities, suburbs, and rural towns—and possibly in your own community.

An Unlikely Threat

As we made our way towards the back of the neighborhood, I noticed a young teenage girl standing in the middle of the road holding a phone out as if it were on speakerphone. I assumed she lived at one of the houses she was standing near, and thinking little of her presence there, we continued on our way down the next cul de sac. Upon circling back to the same area, the young girl proceeded to join my children and follow them to the door of the next house to trick-or-treat with them. She said nothing to me or my children and continued to hold her phone out in front of her. The phone was clearly in active use as if on speakerphone, but no one was talking, nor was she looking at anything on it.

At this point, I’ll be honest… I was thinking “wow, that’s kind of a punk move to use kids you don’t even know to get candy.” Then to my surprise, she continued to follow us from house to house. We caught up to the couple and their child ahead of us, and as the three kids ran up a long driveway at the next house, the girl sparked up conversation with me asking if I lived in the neighborhood. Without thinking anything of it, I gestured and said I lived down a certain way. When I asked her the same (fully expecting her to state she lived in a house we were approaching) she responded that she did not live in the neighborhood and was visiting a cousin.

During our brief conversation, she continued to hold her phone out in front of her. At this point, it was very clear it was on speakerphone. As I walked away towards my children, I heard her mumble her location into the phone.

Myth #2) Human Trafficking Victims Will Try to Seek Help From Others When in Public.
The teen girl on the phone was likely a victim herself. She made no attempt to ask for Alissa’s help even though she had ample opportunity. Likely due to fear.

Internal Alarms

Minutes later when we proceeded back down the long driveway, I saw an older car with all-tinted windows had appeared and was parked at a neighborhood crossroad near us. The front passenger window was lowered 2-3 inches, allowing me to see two large males inside who were clearly watching us.

Internal alarms were blasting, but I didn’t want to appear paranoid or overly dramatic, so I continued along with caution… an action that could have cost me everything.

I took both children firmly by the hand as we walked on with the couple and their child… the young girl in tow. As we approached the very last house before a long stretch of road with only a bridge ahead to get to the next section of the neighborhood, the couple announced this was their home and proceeded to get ready to go inside. As my children walked up to get candy from the bowl on the front porch, the teenage girl stayed back this time. With her phone still out (and someone clearly listening), she began asking me questions… Was I single? Did I have someone waiting for me at home? How old was I? Was I in college?

Myth #3) Human Trafficking Abductors are Scary-looking Men.
While in Alissa’s case the men in the car were likely there to strong-arm the actual physical abduction, all of the initial baiting happened with the teen girl – a very unlikely and unexpected threat.

Trusting Instincts

As she peppered me with what I knew to be textbook profiling questions, everything in me knew I needed to act immediately. I stumbled through responding with vague answers and took note of my surroundings. As I turned around, I saw that the car with two men had pulled up and sat waiting not 15 feet behind me on the road. With nowhere else to go, I swiftly walked to my barely-acquainted neighbor as she typed in the code on her garage door. Grabbing her firmly by the arm, I told her something was not right, that I did not feel safe, and I asked if she and her husband would allow me and my kids into their home.

Despite not even being aware of the situation at hand, they did not hesitate to help us. For that, I am grateful beyond words. If we had walked on, there is no way I could have protected myself and both children. There is nowhere else we could have gone. No one would have seen us to help. One of us would almost assuredly not be here today.

Upon our entrance into the neighbor’s home, the girl proceeded to get inside the car. They quickly departed before the police arrived on scene. The police confirmed that there was no doubt of their intentions and deployed more officers to patrol the surrounding neighborhoods as they believed there could likely be more girls stationed to flag potential targets. Our trick-or-treat bounty was taken by an officer to ensure no Airtags or contaminants were hidden inside.  We were escorted home and instructed to be on guard for the upcoming weeks, even months, in case we had been flagged as continued targets.

This is the type of experience that shocks you to your core. It’s the one that keeps you up at night. It’s the one that leaves you fearful to step outside your door. And it’s the one that is meant to be shared, because the victim wasn’t me this time… but it could have been. And it could be you.

Myth #4) Only Women and Children are at Risk for Trafficking
Men or also at risk for not only sex trafficking but forced labor and illegal drug transportation. Human trafficking victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality.

How To Protect Yourself

Fortunately, there are many actions and steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. This experience taught me a few critical lessons I’d like to personally add to that list.

  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times
  • Danger may not always be easily recognizable. A false sense of security can make you an easier target.
  • Listen to your gut. I cannot stress this one enough.
  • Waiting to take action will likely leave you with no action to take.
  • Seek help from others immediately.
  • Do not be afraid to cause a commotion.
  • Be prepared. Always carry with you one method of protection (pepper spray, alarm, etc.), even in familiar and “safe” locations such as your neighborhood.
  • Protect your personal information… Do not share the location of your home with strangers. Do not share specific names and ages of your family with strangers. Be careful what you put on social media (where your children go to school, your neighborhood, your travel information). This information can be used to target you, your family, or your home.
  • Don’t be afraid to be “rude” to strangers. If something feels “off” it probably is.

A huge thank you to Alissa, for her bravery in sharing her personal story. If you have personal safety tips to share, please leave us a note in the comments. Our hope is that others might benefit from your suggestions. Be safe.

How To Manifest Anything, Fashion blogger Erin Busbee of Busbee Style wearing an orange and blue Staud Ina dress with white sunglasses walking around in Telluride, Colorado
Erin Busbee
Erin Busbee of Busbee Style is proud to lead a community of well over one-million vibrant women over 40. Through her platforms, Erin shares a unique inside / out approach to her style, fashion & beauty content, honoring the natural power, radiance, and beauty within. Erin believes that life over 40 is one of the best times of your lives…a Midlife Awakening!
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32 thoughts on “We Need To Talk About A Horrific Attempted Abduction – It Happened To One Of Us

  1. Thank you so much for sharing that harrowing story!! I’m so thankful you were aware and that your neighbors didn’t question it. God is good!! Also wanted to share a book I had all my kids read in junior high/high school. Gavin DeBecker’s The Gift of Fear. Written by a former FBI profiler. He tells all kinds of stories like yours, and some that cover how PD even let their guard down and the outcome wasn’t good. Teaches you different things to watch for and ALL about listening to your gut. From what you said you did it seems like you might have already read it. Again, thanks for sharing. I hope you are all ok and there is no lingering trauma. That’s one thing nobody really understands after a close call like yours. God bless.

    1. Thanks so much for reading this important story, Kim…and for sharing another helpful resource for us all! Everyone responds differently during the healing process after traumatic events, but we’re all SO glad that Alissa and her kiddos are safe and that she is now bravely willing to share this story to help others stay safe! ~Team Busbee

    1. Thanks so much for reading this important story and sharing your support too… We’re all so glad that Alissa is safe and now so bravely sharing her story to help other women stay safe! ~Team Busbee

  2. Alissa, thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story. I’m so sorry this happened to you, but I’m glad that you and your children are safe. Your willingness to share may save someone’s life. I am going to send this to loved ones.

    1. It’s such a horrifying reality that often flies under the radar. I’m grateful to be safe and able to share my story in this way. My only hope is that it will help to keep others safe! Thank you so much for your kind words and support, and for passing this on to your loved ones. ~Alissa xo

  3. So horrible. Glad your friend was able to recognize what was happening and take shelter. Yes, the days of doing anything with out locating exits and pre-determining escape routes are long gone. It’s a sorry commentary on society.

    1. Thank you for reading this one, Carol. Such a powerful reminder for us all to stay vigilant and aware at all times. ~Team Busbee

  4. Wow, how incredibly scary, so glad she listened to her gut. but now I keep thinking about the young girl, and what a sad existence she must be living

    1. We are all beyond grateful that Alissa and her kids are safe and that she so bravely shared this story to help others. We all said the same thing about that young girl… the whole thing is just awful. Thank you for reading this important story. ~Team Busbee

  5. That is frightening! I too believe your gut/ instincts are an inbuilt safety system. Thank you for sharing and reminding us of this. K

    1. This definitely reminds us all to ALWAYS listen to your gut… You can never be too safe. Thanks for reading, Kerry. ~Team Busbee

  6. This is one of the most frightening things I’ve ever read. Thank God Alissa is smart, was aware, and able to protect herself and her kids. Thank you for sharing!

    1. We are beyond grateful that Alissa was aware and listening to her gut during this awful moment! Not something that any of us think will happen, but unfortunately is all too common… So glad she bravely shared her story! ~Team Busbee

  7. Thank you for sharing this important information. We also had a very weird situation with a teenage girl who asked to come into our house to charge her phone. It was around 11pm and it was during the holidays so we were still up. She said a friend had dropped her off in our neighborhood and she didn’t have a ride and her phone had died. There were so many red flags but we were trying to be helpful. She was very young, alone and it was cold outside. We let her in and she asked bazaar questions and hung out for awhile. We asked if we could get her a ride home. She put her “address” into my husband’s phone for an uber. When we checked the address and she had gone to the bus station. Shortly after she left, a car of men drove up to our house and parked for awhile. I called the police but they left before the police arrived. I do not know her motivation or if she was a victim herself. We all need to be aware and stay safe.

    1. Oh, Carmen… how scary! Thank you for sharing this story here with us. You never know what someone’s intentions are and you can never be too safe… ~Team Busbee

  8. What a terrifying experience and a thankful good ending.
    Thank you for sharing and raising awareness; I appreciate these being added into all of the fashion goodies emailed.
    This also became a thing targeting Loudon County, VA grocery parking lots, specifically women with 2 small children, while they buckle 1 in the car, the 2nd child is grabbed. Absolute evil and insanity.
    xoxo, April ( @kimchiwarriorprincess )

    1. Thank you for sharing about the grocery parking lot targetings too, April…SO awful to think about, but something that we all have to be aware of. ~Team Busbee

    1. You are SO welcome, Lucretia. We just knew this story is too important not to share, and are grateful for Alissa’s bravery in sharing with our amazing community. Thanks for reading. ~Team Busbee

  9. I’m so glad she had the sense to follow her instincts!!! What a great story to share so that others can be better prepared, These People Keep Up Their Game Because They Are Good At It. Being aware of our surroundings and being prepared will be the ONLY hope for those in danger.

    1. We’re honored that Alissa has shared her story and know that it will make a difference to so many lives… SO glad you agree. We’re beyond grateful that she followed her instincts and is still here with us today… ~Team Busbee

  10. Thank you for sharing this. I’m a head on a swivel type person since I was very young. An only child of a single alcoholic mother will do that to a person. I’ve always been the hyper aware type and now more than ever people need to think this way, unfortunately. Out of curiosity, what state did this occur in? I’m in CA and over the last few years I don’t even see many trick or treaters anymore. We used to take our kids to the church for Halloween trunk or treat but the past few years, maybe even more so after covid, it seems there aren’t many, which is sad. It was a fun time when I was young in the 80s, but the times have surely changed, in many ways. Thanks again for sharing this important story.

    1. So good to be aware, always… This was in Indiana, but could have been anywhere and any day which is just SO scary. Thanks so much for reading, Michele. ~Team Busbee

  11. What a terrifying experience!!! Thank you for sharing your story with us!! So thankful Alissa and her children are safe!!!

    1. Thanks so much for reading, Lisa. We are all beyond grateful that Alissa and her sweet kiddos are safe today! ~Team Busbee

  12. Wow…this is terrifying! Definitely THE most important blog post I have ever read.
    Thank you for sharing this very important information.

    1. SO scary… And also so important to share with others. We’re beyond grateful that Alissa is safe and acted in just the right way at such a terrifying moment. Thank you so much for reading this one, Kristin. ~Team Busbee

  13. Wow, Alissa – thank you for being brave enough to tell your story. When my daughter was 13 years old she was targeted online by 2 men offering her money to “just meet them”. Thankfully she was brave enough to tell a friend who then told her parents and us. My daughter was ashamed but I think she was brave. I tell her all the time, F***K politeness! You NEVER have to be polite or cordial to anyone you feel “off” about it. I am SOOOO glad my daughter is safe and I am glad you are too.

    1. Thank YOU for sharing your story as well, Katie. I am beyond grateful your daughter is safe, that she was brave enough to tell her friend, and that her friend spoke up. She was absolutely brave in doing so! It is so critical to listen to your gut and to not be afraid to speak up when something feels “off.” And it’s important we keep sharing these stories to raise awareness and stay safe. ~Alissa xo

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