Fighting for her soul: A sex-trafficking victim’s story
November 16, 2014 - Picnic Time
YONKERS, N.Y. — She remembers being given so many drugs that she would infrequently drool on herself. The drugs kept her loose, so she wouldn’t be means to fight. Or escape.
She remembers a organisation who came to a door, bringing cash, awaiting sex. She wasn’t authorised to refuse.
She remembers being sealed in a room as punishment. She wasn’t authorised out of a unit alone. She couldn’t eat until her captors were hungry.
She remembers being forced to watch those organisation tie another immature lady to a chair and kick her. The assault was a warning: She’d get a same if she attempted to run.
Lynda Marie Oddo sits during a cruise list in her aunt’s backyard underneath a bright sky, and she loses her breath. Her eyes narrow, staring during something unseen. Her voice tightens.
“I get so ill to my stomach, I’m prepared to twist adult in a round and cry, or roar and let it all out,” she says. “At a same time, it doesn’t come out. It doesn’t come out.”
What are we seeing?
“Everything that happened. What went on.”
She is perplexing to pronounce about a years she spent with dual organisation who had been friends from her Yonkers area — until they motionless to turn pimps and sell her and dual other women for sex.
The organisation altered them to Rhode Island in 2006 after training about a loophole in state law that authorised indoor prostitution. They lived in an unit on Urban Street in North Providence and afterwards an unit in Providence during 123 Pinehurst Ave., a retard from Providence College
Lynda was 16 when a organisation became her pimps. She was 19 when she transient for good. She had usually incited 20 when a Providence military arrested a dual organisation in a tumble of 2010 on charges of sex-trafficking Lynda and dual other women.
This was a initial sex-trafficking box in Rhode Island given a law banning harlotry was upheld in 2009. It was also a landmark, environment a march for how law-enforcement agencies should examine intensity sex-trafficking crimes.
The issue has also shown a long-lasting mishap to a survivors. One of a detectives who investigated a strange box and has turn a father figure to a women says they have been deeply shop-worn and need extensive diagnosis to recover.
Both Andrew Fakhoury and Joseph Defeis pleaded no competition to trafficking charges and were condemned in 2011. One is still portion 10 years of a 20-year judgment during a Adult Correctional Institutions. The other was expelled after a year and now manages a burger grill in Scarsdale, N.Y., a few miles from where Lynda now lives with an aunt.
Four years later, people tell Lynda she needs to put a past behind her. She can’t.
Flashbacks arise, unbidden, and devour her. She feels unwashed inside her body. She struggles with sobriety, and she drinks and uses drugs to dull a memories.
She feels like she’s mislaid her soul.
She wants people to know what happened. She wants to expose her face. She wants people to know her name. She hopes her story will assistance other survivors. She believes this will assistance her, too.
It’s singular that any sexual-assault plant is peaceful to pronounce publicly, mostly given of feelings of shame. Survivors of sex trafficking are a special form of plant given they’ve been forced into prostitution, raped mixed times, and endured psychological mishap that creates it formidable for them to reconstruct their lives.
“I’m prepared to understanding with it, given it’s destroying me inside and out, and it’s usually going to continue to get worse,” Lynda said. “I’m sleepy of carrying to be strong, when it’s holding it all out of me.”
She hasn’t told many people about what happened. The Providence military detectives. The state prosecutors. The grand jury.
Not her family, or her friends. She hasn’t been means to tell them everything. She’s not certain they’ll understand.
But she’s perplexing now.
“It is hard. Right now I’m like” — she unexpected exhales — “I’m holding it in. we feel my throat closing. we usually wish to cry and go hide.
“At a same time, that’s where we don’t solve anything,” she says. “It will usually make it some-more complicated, given we keep burying it and burying it. It unburies itself and it’s like, ‘Surprise!’ Didn’t we usually bury we 6 feet under? ‘Surprise, we came behind up.’
“It’s like Halloween in a mind — ‘I’ve come behind to haunt.’”
She has always felt like “the black sheep” of her family.
She was lifted in Yonkers, N.Y., by relatives who were drug addicts and alcoholics. She remembers assault and abuse. The home was filthy. She was mostly hungry. Relatives took Lynda and her younger hermit on weekends and in a summer, to give them some stability, though when New York child gratification officials began investigating, Lynda’s mom altered a children to a trailer park in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The family fell apart. Lynda remembered a day that she and her younger hermit were sealed out of a trailer. Someone called police, and state child gratification officials intervened. She and her hermit were sent to opposite encourage homes. They didn’t see any other again for years.
She says she was molested during one of a encourage homes when she was 6. She was fearful to tell anyone. “My relatives were pathological liars,” she says now. “Who would trust me?”
She was altered around to opposite encourage homes, that mostly meant changing schools. She struggled with her classes. She acted out. She was hold back.
By a time Lynda was 10, an aunt and uncle in Yonkers got her out of encourage caring and eventually adopted her. Her 4 cousins became her adoptive brothers. She had food, clothes, security, fortify and love, says her uncle, Steve Oddo.
But Lynda didn’t feel like she belonged in her new family. She was defensive and shy. She had smoked her initial cigarette during age 7. She’d smoked pot during age 10. By age 13, she was experimenting with drugs. And now, her adoptive domicile was comparatively abundant and strait-laced.
She was smart, though behind in school. She skipped classes. She ran away.
She was a corpulent lady who attempted tough to fit in. She began unresolved out with a organisation of teenagers who were a few years older. They drank and smoked, infrequently played basketball.
Entry into prostitution
She had a vanquish on a short, spare child named Joseph Defeis, and when she worked on his hot-dog truck, she teased that she wanted to “toast his buns.” Defeis hung around with Andy Fakhoury, who Lynda pronounced was some-more sinister and acted like a gangster, a rapper wannabe.
Fakhoury and Defeis brought her to parties and gave her drugs. One day when she was 16 and awaiting to be grounded for a bad news card, Lynda ran divided so she could go to a celebration with them.
Fakhoury and Defeis picked her adult and brought her to a hotel in Atlantic City, where they partied until they upheld out. She pronounced she was unperceiving and incompetent to pierce when Fakhoury raped her that night. She was fearful to contend anything a subsequent day, and Fakhoury acted like zero had happened.
He raped her again, she said. And then, she said, he and Defeis started operative on her to be a prostitute. “ ‘You get paid for sleeping with people — what’s not to like?’ ” she remembered Fakhoury saying. “But we wasn’t sleeping with people.”
She did it once, and told them she never wanted to do it again. It was too late. She had secluded her aunt and uncle and was contingent on Fakhoury and Defeis. They told her she indispensable to make some money.
Steve Oddo pronounced he and his 4 sons went out acid for Lynda. They’d listened stories about what Fakhoury and Defeis had her doing. “I was out kicking in doors,” Oddo said.
They couldn’t find her. Fakhoury and Defeis had swayed Lynda to stay. They told her she was partial of their family now.
She schooled after how they’d been formulation this move. Another teenage girl, whom Fakhoury upheld off as his girlfriend, was a initial one they used for prostitution. Lynda was a second.
They kept a women drugged. Fakhoury wanted Defeis to find more. They did.
They altered to Rhode Island, where indoor harlotry was legal.
People don’t know what that life was unequivocally like, Lynda said. They trust what they see in a movies. “The approach they make it out, like a lady is happy to do it and it’s her lifestyle. That’s not it,” Lynda said. “That’s a approach we can survive. At a finish of a day, you’re behind a door, though a people who are spiteful we are also behind that door.”
Fakhoury set adult advertisements for chaperon services on craigslist and backpage.com. Lynda was 16 though looked younger. She pronounced he told her to distortion about her age, to contend she had a baby face.
Some organisation weren’t fooled, Lynda said. “A lot of times, they were like, ‘You’re 12, you’re ugly, you’re not my type.’ They’d leave and Andy would be like, ‘What a [expletive], we didn’t get a money?’”
The organisation sole pot from a apartment, according to police, and set adult a song counter to make swat videos celebrating a bully life. Fakhoury called himself “Kash” and Defeis was “Jemz,” rapping in videos that showed them cruising around Providence in a black SUV, flashing fistfuls of $100 bills and bragging about being gangsters.
They were feeding a women drugs, especially remedy medication, infrequently cocaine, infrequently blending pills in a food. The women weren’t authorised out of a unit alone and never in daylight, Lynda Fsaid. The organisation threatened a women and told them they were worthless, pieces of garbage, whores.
Sometimes, when she was alone with Defeis, Lynda saw a aged crony she used to know.
“I’d be drooling on myself and not be means to function. Joe would say, ‘We’re going to get we out of this. This is not for you. We’re destroying your life.’
“But we’d get behind to a residence and he’d be a scumbag again.”
When a “work” was done, and there were no some-more calls for a women, a organisation and women would hang out together and watch movies. It was roughly like they were friends again.
Except when a women fell asleep, Lynda said. “Andy would take advantage of you. If we attempted to quarrel it, you’d get a palm opposite a face,” she said. “If we did quarrel him, you’d be propitious to be breathing.”
She didn’t fight.
Attempts to leave
She escaped a few times.
Once, she ran to a bakery in North Providence, where a owners satisfied she was fearful and let her use a phone to call a relations to collect her up. Another time, while a organisation went out, she stole income and called a cab to take her away.
Each time, Fakhoury called her and pronounced he would find her and kill her. Defeis used a opposite tactic: He apologized and pronounced they could be a family again. Eventually, she’d trust Defeis — and comprehend when she returned that she’d been fooled.
The final try was in a summer of 2010 during a Providence apartment. She hid in a lavatory and called her mother, who called a police. Officers came to a doorway looking for her, though Lynda couldn’t convince one of a other immature women to come with her. The immature lady stood on a second-floor porch — with Fakhoury station behind her — and insisted that she didn’t know what Lynda was articulate about.
“Kash was station right subsequent to her, holding her,” Lynda remembered. “Even if she pronounced anything, it was like, ‘I’ll punch we right in a behind of a head.’ It didn’t matter that a cops were there.”
A few months later, the military returned. The other immature woman’s family had been acid for her for months. They found her — advertised as an chaperon named Jenna: “Pretty, petite blonde, accessible all day for upscale gentlemen.”
The detectives treated a immature lady as a victim, not a criminal. Their affability helped them expose a law about what was function in that apartment.
New military tactic
Lynda was vital with her mom in Virginia when a Providence detectives came to doubt her that fall. She was blissful to talk, removed Sgt. Patrick McNulty.
The military had worked on harlotry cases before, raiding spas and massage parlors, and impediment escorts and streetwalkers. Yet, over time, Day One, an group that assists sexual-assault victims, had managed to convince a military that they indispensable to perspective a cases differently. There was some-more going on than prostitution.
When this box arose, then-Lt. Michael E. Correia destined McNulty and a rest of a detectives to provide a women as victims. “We were means to demeanour during this from a whole opposite light,” McNulty said. “It wasn’t that a girls were prostituting on backpage.com. Someone was pushing that.”
By treating a 3 women as victims, a detectives schooled how Fakhoury and Defeis had offering them a disfigured clarity of family. All 3 women had been victims of passionate abuse before removing concerned with a dual men. All 3 had struggled with substance-abuse problems.
“Whether these guys attempted to do what they were doing, they manipulated females who were vulnerable,” McNulty said. “There was not a lot of adore in their life, no self-esteem, and these guys preyed on that.”
This box finished a maestro investigator consternation what signs they’d missed in others. “If this happened in this case, it’s function any day in any state of a union. It’s not singular in Rhode Island,” McNulty said. “Look during backpage.com — what is a commission of women who suspicion this adult on their own? There’s a male pushing that train.”
Confronting her past
Lynda didn’t go to justice with the other dual women when Defeis and Fakhoury were condemned in 2011. Her beloved during a time told her she wouldn’t be means to hoop observant them.
Now, she wishes she’d been there. She thinks about what she’d like to say.
She never wants to see Fakhoury again, though Defeis was once her friend. She knows that he is handling a Smashburger grill in Scarsdale, usually 5 miles divided from where she’s living.
“There are times we wish to travel in that place and be like, ‘Why did we do this? Why didn’t we be my crony and assistance me get improved instead of destroying me some more?’” she says. “I consider that will assistance me finally put it behind me.”
On a new afternoon, Defeis answers a phone during Smashburger. He pauses when he hears a contributor contend Lynda’s name.
Defeis was expelled from a ACI dual years ago. Now 27 years old, he says he’s adult for a graduation to conduct some-more restaurants. “I’ve come an extremely, intensely prolonged way,” he said.
Defeis says some of a news reports about a box weren’t true, though he isn’t specific. “I’m not going to contend we didn’t attend in activities. It was stupid, a bad choice of friends,” he said. “I’m still putting things together.”
Defeis didn’t pronounce in justice during his sentencing 3 years ago or offer an reparation to a women, as Fakhoury had. The Superior Court decider called Defeis “a coward” for his silence.
Now, Defeis tells a Journal contributor that he’d “love” to tell his side of a story. He doesn’t give his home series though offers to call her after he leaves work. He after leaves a summary putting off a speak to another day and asks a contributor not to call a restaurant.
Defeis promises to call. He doesn’t.
At a ACI, Fakhoury declines an speak request.
A sergeant’s help
Although he retired from a Providence Police Department 3 years ago and altered to Costa Rica, McNulty stays in hit with Lynda and a other women. For 4 years, he’s been a voice on a phone when they indispensable reassurance.
Every holiday, Lynda calls him. When her life is descending apart, she calls. When she’s afraid, she calls. When she believes no one is there for her, she calls.
McNulty always listens. He knows she feels alone.
“Lynda is a survivor. She is a tough kid. She can make it on her own,” McNulty says. “She’s also intelligent and means to know when somebody is articulate to her about judicious things. She wants to navigate divided from [that life], though it’s tough when she didn’t have that support.”
She helped a Providence military put a organisation in prison. She doesn’t know where find assistance for herself, he said. He wishes he could do more.
“Lynda was that street-smart child we brought adult to attest in grand jury. She had a courage to do it on her own,” McNulty said. “When we brought her to a airfield in Boston [afterward], she pennyless down. She was leaving. She was alone. And we saw that small lady in her…”
The late sergeant’s voice cracks. “So, how could we not collect adult a phone now?”
Lynda has incited 24. She is behind in a area where she was raised. Some of a aged friends are still around. Her family is disturbed she will tumble into trouble.
But McNulty sees promise. “The light that we see is she wants to plead this with other victims and start on a right path,” he says. “She always wants to assistance somebody — a beloved who has issues, a dog who needs a home — even when she has zero to give, she wants to be helpful.”
‘Now or never’
Lynda has spent a final 4 years perplexing to find her way. She’s had jobs, though they haven’t lasted. She has left from carrying her possess unit to being homeless.
She lived with a beloved she met months after evading a residence in Elmhurst. Their on-again, off-again attribute finished this fall, shortly after he got out of prison. He took divided her pit-bull puppy, Ryder, in Sep and pronounced he shot him; she hasn’t seen Ryder since. He called her a prostitute and pronounced she would never be loved. She worries that he’s right.
“We usually wish to be loved,” Lynda said. “We usually wish someone to be there for us.”
The misunderstanding in Lynda’s life has irritated and tired her adoptive family, though they are still here for her. She lives with her aunt Lorraine Rossi, who babysat her when she was a still baby in a pell-mell house. “I consider she’s usually adorable. we adore her to death,” says Rossi.
Lynda is rebuilding her attribute with her adoptive parents, Linda and Steve Oddo.
“Her opinion has altered given that time,” says Steve Oddo, who afterwards looks during Lynda, sitting opposite from him on Rossi’s couch. “You’re a beautiful girl. You have a lot forward of you.”
“You’re 24 years old, and it’s now or never,” Lynda tells herself. “You are going to finish adult dead, or somewhere we might not come behind from. You can have a amatory family to support you, or good fitness to you. we unequivocally need to figure out my past and get it behind me…”
“It’ll always be there,” says her uncle, “but we don’t have to dwell on it.”
She hugs a sham to her chest, her feet twisted underneath her. She doesn’t seem as if she believes it.
‘I contend no’
Lynda walks through her area in Yonkers, nearby a woods where she used to censor divided when she was in her early teens. She remembers a lady she was, a rebel teen who had a word “fate” tattooed on her right ankle. Before Fakhoury and Defeis finished her trust she was doomed.
“I still don’t know who we am. we am still perplexing to find my possess way,” she says. “You’ve already finished that. You’ve already prostituted. You’ve been a call girl, a ho. They contend I’ll always be that.
“I contend no.”
Then one afternoon, she is told about another lady who was trafficked by another caterer from Rhode Island.
The male is in prison, though a immature lady is struggling to recover herself. She told a contributor about what a caterer stole from her: her clarity of self, her freedom, her independence, her ability to be gentle in her possess skin.
When Lynda hears a woman’s story, she doesn’t hesitate. “Tell her to call me. That approach she won’t feel alone.”
They can pronounce about things that usually those who’ve been by this can unequivocally understand, she says. They can assistance any other.
She adds, wistfully, “I wish we had someone who would do that for me.”