Leticia “Letty” Serrano had only returned home just two years ago. The 15-year-old from Houston, Texas, had recently celebrated her quinceañera, but Letty wasn’t the same girl that her parents had known. Letty was just 13-years-old when she was drugged and sold to sex-traffickers, according to ABC13 Houston. While she survived that horrific nightmare, the trauma cost her her life. Two years after being rescued from her sex-traffickers, Letty took her own life.
“Letty went through a horrific abduction in 2017 through a man who drugged her and trafficked her,” her godmother Cynthia Rivera stated on Facebook. “With the help of our community, I was able to find her. When we got her back, she was already broken and addicted at that point, the road to recovery was and is one of the hardest things for any child to overcome.”
Her family said that even though they were able to rescue her from her abductor, Letty wanted to return to him. Victims who can’t break free of their abuser either mentally or physically are experiencing something commonly known as Stockholm Syndrome.
“The hostages experience a powerful, primitive positive feeling towards their captor,” Psychiatrist Dr. Frank Ochberg told the BBC. “They are in denial that this is the person who put them in that situation. In their minds, they think this is the person who is going to let them live.”
Unfortunately, Letty could not escape the hold her abuser had on her and tried to run away from home several times in order to return to him.
Leticia "Letty" Serrano, fue víctima de tráfico sexual y mientras estaba secuestrada, se enamoró del secuestrador. Estaba muy joven y el tipo se aprovechó de su inocencia, para manipular su débil mente, falta de experiencia. Se mató, al sentirse lejos de su enamorado. Lástima… pic.twitter.com/JHueNXRWKv
— Chikistrakiz (@chikistrakiz) October 18, 2019
“We got her back damaged,” Rivera said, told ABC13. “I feel like I let her down.”
The Human Trafficking Institute reported this summer that the state of Texas is prevalent for human traffickers.
Last year of the 74 cases filed in court, 68 involved sex trafficking and six involved labor traffickers. Texas also reportedly has 300,000 victims of trafficking.
The Serrano family is now seeking justice for the death of their child. Rivera said on Facebook that Letty’s abuser was detained only briefly and then released. She alleges that he also took in another 13-year-old as well. They’re seeking to take Letty’s abuser to court.
If you or someone you may know is a victim of sex trafficking, please reach out to the National Human Trafficking Hotline by calling 1 (888) 373-7888.