Juanita Perez, age 27, was born in Mazatlàn, Mexico.
Looking at her now you would think her childhood must’ve been really rough for her to wind up where she is, but no. As an only child she lived in a working class neighborhood after she and her parents immigrated to the United States when she was eight. It wasn’t until she was a teenager that things began to change.
It was in high school that she met a slightly older man named Manny. To Juanita, he was the bad boy who would be good just for her, that every girl dreamed about. He did drugs, had an interesting arrest record, had tattoos, had a bit of a temper, and had a bit of a history of being a player. To Juanita’s family, he was everything they warned her about. Given the ultimatum of being able to stay with her family or continue to see Manny, she left. Unfortunately for Juanita, six years and two kids later, so did Manny
Now without even so much as a high-school diploma, what was she to do? After all these years, she figured there was no way her family would take her back. Rather than panic she picked up the phone. She called up Carlos—one of Manny’s old drug connections—and asked if he knew someone who needed a mule. She’d watched Manny do it enough times. Her no nonsense attitude and street smarts could get her through it. He told her to come to a party he was having and they’d talk about it.
At the party Carlos gave her the money she needed for three month’s rent and groceries, but with a catch. As he handed over the money, he also had a contract for her to sign stating the terms for her repayment. Too thankful that she and her kids wouldn’t be living on the street, Juanita quickly signed without bothering to read about the exorbitant amount of interest.
It wasn’t until days later that Carlos broke he bad news. She didn’t have to sell drugs. She had to sell herself and Carlos all but owned her. Before she knew it, she was walking the street selling sexual favors and giving Carlos a huge portion of what she made just to pay the interest on her debt. What little she had left, she used to support herself and her children.
Carlos wasn’t all bad, though. No one messed with her and he always bailed her out of jail whenever she was arrested for prostitution.