Posted on: June 26, 2024 Posted by: Christina Bronner Comments: 5
In the realm of resilience, advocacy, and empowerment, few individuals shine as brightly as Deondriea Cantrice.  Her journey is a testament to the determined spirit of a mother’s love and a woman’s unyielding resolve.

Deondriea’s life took an unexpected turn when her daughter became a victim of human trafficking, leaving her pregnant. Faced with the immense responsibility of raising her granddaughter, who was born with significant medical challenges, Deondriea emerged as an inspiration of hope and strength for many.

In the difficult world of trafficking, Upscale Magazine had the opportunity to understand the balancing the roles of caregiver, mother, and advocate.

 

What has been one of the most challenging things you had to manage?

Deondriea: One of the most challenging things I have had to manage is balancing the needs of my granddaughter and the well-being of my daughter after she was trafficked. Protecting and raising my granddaughter while loving and supporting my daughter often puts me in difficult positions where what’s best for one isn’t necessarily best for the other. For instance, my daughter desires one-on-one time with my granddaughter, but legally, she cannot have unsupervised visits. This has left me feeling caught in the middle, forced to navigate these conflicting needs and make tough decisions for the sake of both their well-being.

 

How have you been able to love and support your daughter through this experience?

Deondriea: Supporting and loving my daughter as a trafficking survivor has been no easy feat, but as her mother, my love for her is unconditional. There have been moments when she lashed out at me because I had to prioritize my granddaughter’s needs over hers. Despite my desire to protect her and ensure her well-being, I recognize that she is an adult, and I cannot force her into anything. I love her through patience, forgiveness, and by welcoming her into my home. When she needs me, I show up for her in the way she needs. I actively involve her in my granddaughter’s life and ensure she feels cherished with birthday and Christmas gifts. I never pass judgment on her and allow her to move at her own pace. My support is unwavering, rooted in unconditional love and understanding.

 

What kind of care has your granddaughter needed?

Deondriea: My granddaughter was born with a birth defect called absent septum pellucidum, meaning a part of her brain didn’t develop properly before birth, which has led to developmental and learning delays. Additionally, she has an underdeveloped optic nerve, making her legally blind in her right eye. By the age of three, she had already undergone two eye surgeries, eight months of physical therapy, and over 200 doctor visits. Currently, she is under the care of a dedicated team of specialists, including a neurologist, ophthalmologist, ENT, endocrinologist, and pulmonologist, whom she sees every six months. She also visits a neuropsychologist annually. At school, she has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that provides her with special education support and learning modifications to help her thrive.

 

Despite what the doctors said…. How has your granddaughter thrived to date?

Deondriea: When my granddaughter was just 7 months old, her medical journey began. She had to see her specialists as frequently as monthly, but now she only needs to see them semi-annually. Earlier this year, she graduated from her ENT care. My granddaughter is full of life, extremely creative, empathetic, and curious. She laughs every day and is very much a kinesthetic learner. To look at her, you would never believe she has endured all that she has medically. Due to her birth defect, her team was initially concerned about her growth since her height had dropped to the 13th percentile for her age. However, after treatment, it’s predicted she will be between 4’11” and 5 feet tall. She is doing far better than anyone could have predicted; her team of specialists is always amazed that she has met and, in some cases, exceeded milestones. At just seven years old, she has a love for music, enjoying every genre from nursery rhymes to blues. Although she is neurodivergent, she is expected to live a healthy, happy life. I have launched the Kindly Kadence brand for her. Not one to teach her about entrepreneurship but as a way to use her platform to bring awareness about neurodiversity. She is truly remarkable.

 

What kind of self-care are you invested in to ensure your well-being?

Deondriea: Dealing with the aftermath of my daughter being a trafficking survivor is a lifelong journey. It’s a daily challenge to ensure she receives the healing and rehabilitation she needs while also ensuring my granddaughter is healthy, happy, and free from the stigma of her early life. Resources for families in our situation are scarce, so self-care is essential. I write extensively, take time for myself, and am grateful for the unwavering support of my tribe. I smile every day and continuously seek ways to give back, and I am determined to help other parents avoid the hardships I have endured.

 

What advice would you give a parent who found themselves in this kind of situation?

Deondriea: The advice I would give to a parent whose child has been a victim of human trafficking is to never stop praying and believing in your child. Be present and listen without judgment, and seek support from your family and friends. I recommend getting both individual and family counseling. Understand that the healing process takes time and don’t take it personally if your child doesn’t open up immediately. Continue to love your child unconditionally, whether they are a minor or an adult. Most importantly, don’t blame yourself. Trafficking is about the trafficker exploiting vulnerabilities in your child, not about your parenting. Stay strong, be patient, and trust in the resilience of your child.

 

Tell us about the warning signs of sex trafficking.

Deondriea: First, it’s important to understand that only 1% of trafficking victims are kidnapped. The remaining 99% are the result of the grooming process. Recognizing the warning signs of sex trafficking is essential for early intervention and support.

 

  • Victims often miss school or work without a valid reason, indicating potential control by traffickers. 

 

  • Watch for abrupt shifts in behavior, such as withdrawal, anxiety, or depression, which can signal exploitation.

 

  • Traffickers exert control over victims’ daily activities, finances, and travel. If someone is consistently speaking on behalf of another person in public, this could be a red flag.

 

  • Trafficking victims often have few personal items and may lack identification, as traffickers confiscate these to maintain control.

 

  • Unexplained injuries or signs of physical restraint are clear indicators of potential trafficking, especially in odd less injury prone places.

 

  • Traffickers isolate victims from family and friends to increase dependence and control, making it harder for victims to seek help.

 

  • Victims may provide inconsistent or rehearsed explanations about their situation or whereabouts, reflecting the control exerted by traffickers.

 

  • Some traffickers mark their victims with tattoos or symbols of ownership, a permanent reminder of their control.

 

  • Victims may live in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions with multiple unrelated individuals, highlighting the exploitative environment.

 

  • Multiple Hotel Keys: Possession of numerous hotel keys can indicate that a victim is being moved frequently, a tactic used by traffickers to evade detection.

 

  • Recognizing these warning signs is crucial. By staying vigilant and informed, we can all play a part in protecting vulnerable individuals and combating sex trafficking.

 

How have you been able to help others?

Deondriea: I have been able to help others by actively volunteering with and donating to organizations that support trafficking survivors. Utilizing my platform to raise awareness about the eradication of trafficking has been pivotal. As an activist, sharing my personal story has brought a human face to the impact of trafficking, making it more real and relatable. This visibility has validated survivors’ experiences, providing them with a sense of recognition and understanding. My efforts have not only raised awareness but have also fostered a community where survivors feel seen and supported, knowing that someone truly comprehends the nightmare they have endured.

 

 

After all of this, who is Deondriea, today?

Deondriea: To understand who I am today, you must first understand who I was at my darkest, lowest point. When I learned the full extent of what my daughter endured, I was shattered. The pain pierced my heart and soul, leaving me feeling indescribably broken. Getting out of bed each day and pretending to be okay was an immense struggle. Most days, I wanted to curl up on the bathroom floor and disappear. In many ways, I stopped living. Despite my social media platform reaching millions around the world, I felt powerless to reach my own daughter. This paralyzed me, halting my writing, public speaking, and social engagement. I withdrew, feeling isolated, as no one could truly understand my turmoil or how to help me through it.

Then, one day, I heard an inspirational message at a corporate event that focused on the theme “Why not you? The time is now.” That message sparked something within me. I took a deep breath and shifted my focus from merely motivating others to transforming lives and building confidence. Through this journey, I realized I am more resilient and stronger than I ever imagined. I gained a clearer understanding of my life’s work and who it was meant for. As a result of this journey, I have become a certified confidence coach and positioned myself as an anti-trafficking activist. My smile is back, and my light is shining brighter than ever. Today, I am a testament to the power of resilience and the transformative impact of purpose-driven work.

Deondriea has not only provided unwavering support for her family but also extended her compassion and expertise to the broader community.

Upscale Magazine salutes ALL women of resilience that are able to transform trauma into triumph. We applaud the ability to find purpose out of your pain; not just for your sake, but for helping build our communities also. Continue to thrive Women of Valor!!!

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888

Feel free to leave a word of support & encouragement, or share your own experience.

5 People reacted on this

  1. This was a very inspirational article to read. I was able to empathize with author of this article in so many ways. As a mental health professional trained in this area, I would like to see more support offered and provided for individuals like her. I commend her on her efforts and ongoing support to help those families that are dealing with this terrible act.

  2. Thank you for your willingness to share your story with such transparency. i cannot imagine the pain you feel but I am so grateful that you talking about a topic that so many seem to turn their back to.

  3. The testament to the power of unconditional, love, support, and faith is absolutely amazing. The journey Deondriea shares is heartbreaking to say the least, and yet so empowering. This documentary brings hope to all the women facing such a dilemma in their lives. Encouraging all of us to come together and fight together for the sisterhood of no woman or girl or child fights alone!

  4. I salute you for your perseverance and your unconditional love for your daughter. God Bless and keep your entire family.

  5. The resilience, restraint, and love show through these adversities is remarkable! True example of what a mother/grandmother does to protect those she loves! What an inspiration!

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