Sher⁠i⁠ Lopez

August 3, 2023

Sheri Lopez

August 3, 2023

“My trafficking journey was very long. I was trafficked at 15 and it went on for close to 10 years.” 

“The last location I lived at after I was trafficked was an apartment building with several girls. One of my duties was to go to the mailbox and pick up the mail every day. And there was this old woman named Pearl who was always at the mailbox every time I was there and she would talk to me. After you get abused so much you’re just a walking shell so I wasn’t a very friendly or caring person. But she kept saying to me ‘honey, I know something is wrong. When you’re ready to go, I’ll take you away.’ I didn’t even know what she was talking about.”

“I saw her there for six months. One day things were so bad I didn’t know what to do but end my life – I had gotten to the very end of what I could take physically and emotionally. That day at the mailbox, she said, ‘Would you like to go today?’ and I said ‘yes, I want to go today.’ She helped me – along with a group of people I need to keep anonymous.” 

“That’s why my organization is called Pearl at the Mailbox.” 

“It’s focused specifically on grooming and how it takes place, because that’s where we need to save our kids. Once they’re trafficked, it’s pretty difficult to get them out. Grooming usually takes a long time – mine was about three months.” 

“I was groomed by the father of my first boyfriend – he was very fearful of his father so he did what his dad said. I started going to parties at their house and there were adult men there, but also kids from my school, so it seemed ok. I didn’t know kids trafficked other kids.”

“This process went on for months and I became very trusting of these men. During the first three months, they were very protective. They never hurt me, they would buy me things –  they broke down my barriers and played on the innocence of youth.” 

“It all changed when I told my parents I was going to spend the night at a friend’s house when I was really going to one of those parties. I’m pretty sure I was drugged because I woke up in different clothes. When I asked about it, they said I’d spilled something they were nice enough to change my clothes. From then on, basically every assault was videotaped. They used that as blackmail, as extortion to keep me compliant.” 

“Once I was 18 – legally an adult –  things just changed even more. I was often flown to other states and purchased by very influential people. Some of them have now passed on but, for my safety, I’ll never say who they are.” 

“I can’t stop that side of trafficking, so my goal is to stop it in the grooming stage. If I can prevent even one child from being groomed, and then following in that trafficking world, I’ll have reached my goal.”

“With Pearl at the Mailbox, that’s what I do. I’m working really hard to educate the community and we’re launching an online program where people all across the nation can participate.” 

“To keep kids safe, we need to get to know our neighbors, which isn’t something that people do anymore. You can volunteer at your child’s school, at church, or at local organizations. Everybody can be a “Pearl” just by being available and open – and stepping in even when it’s uncomfortable.” 

“Because we have to protect each other.” 

Sheri Lopez
Scottsdale, Arizona

Sheri escaped being trafficked as a child and now teaches the community how to protect other children. If you need help, you can reach the National Human Trafficking Hotline by phone or text 233733. Remember, you can delete the text after sending for your protection.