2.3 min readPublished On: September 29, 2023

Human Trafficking Survivor Fights For Change

Growing up in the Orlando area, Savannah Parvu navigated a merciless world overshadowed by her mother’s crippling drug addiction.

Savannah’s innocence was stolen at the tender age of 11 when she followed her mother to a drug purchase where mom bartered her own daughter for a fix.

“I was traded for a $10 piece of crack,” Savannah says. “A man took me and sold me to other people, and it became a routine where he would pick me up, take me to hotels, and either drop me off back home or I’d walk.”

This cycle continued for two years.

“I was told not to talk about what went on at home,” Savannah says. “I didn’t know anything else, so I never talked about it. I just knew I’d do anything to make my mom want me.”

At 13, Savannah witnessed both her parents attempt suicide, and her mom screaming that she never loved her and didn’t want her. That devastating moment sent Savannah into foster care.

The move was supposed to represent safety and a new beginning, but tragically, Savannah’s exploitation continued. She soon realized that her captors had connections everywhere, even within the foster care system.

“It was actually there that I realized that this wasn’t normal,” Savannah says. “It was happening to other girls in foster care too, and they didn’t know what was going on. It felt normal for me, which told me this wasn’t okay.”

But no one wanted to deal with the troubled teen from a bad home. Most believed she was just looking for attention.

When Savannah was 15, she went to live with her older brother. Moving to Umatilla gave her the fresh start she needed. She was able to finish high school, a first in her family.

“I wish I could say it was over, but every time my mom resurfaced, I’d end up back where I came from,” Savannah says. “I was so desperate to have her in my life.”

Savannah decided she needed counseling. During those sessions, she opened up for the first time about everything that had happened. And the healing began.

The realization that she was a survivor of human trafficking led her to go public to expose the industry. Speaking openly about her experiences, she educates communities, law enforcement, and policymakers on the stark realities of trafficking.

Savannah has been instrumental in the development of new anti-trafficking laws and was appointed by Attorney General Ashley Moody to the board of directors for Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking. In doing so, she’s not only healing, but also paving the way for countless others to find their way out of the shadows.

About the Author: Cindy Peterson

Cindy Peterson
Originally from the small town of Berryville, Arkansas, Cindy has become a multimedia specialist in journalism, photography, videography and video editing. She has a B.S. in Communications from the University of Central Arkansas and is a correspondent for The Daily Commercial, LakeFront TV and Beacon College’s PBS talk show, “A World of Difference,” where she received an Anthem Award and Telly Award. When she isn’t working, Cindy spends time with her husband, Ryan, and son, David, traveling and taking photos of landscapes and wildlife.

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