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Photo ofLuisa Lopez

Two summers ago I was 15 at the time and I was out with two of my cousins. We had gone to an event  that happened at a park in San Jose. It was late when we left the park, we were coming back home already, it was maybe 11 pm and it was just three girls alone. I was fifteen at the time, my other cousin was nineteen, and the oldest was twenty-one. So it was three girls in San Jose walking alone to the car late at night. We were like a mile away from the car, we parked pretty far because that's how the parking for the park that we were at was.  So as we were walking to the car we see a guy walking behind us, we didn't really care or pay much attention to it, we thought that maybe he was just headed the same way as us and it was three of us and just one guy so we had our backs and weren't scared, we didn't see anything wrong with it. Then as we kept walking we saw a black car pass by multiple times, it passed by maybe like three times, so we started getting a little creeped out  because it was all just so weird. So we just stopped and stood there for a bit just in case we were being followed or something, as we stopped we saw the guy behind us stop as well, and when he did my cousin turned around and asked him “hey are you following us?” He was quick to say “Oh no, no I'm not, I'm just walking down this street to my apartment. Why is there something wrong?”.  My cousin said, “a black car has passed down the same street three times so that's why we stopped, and then we see you stop, it's kinda weird.” “Oh sorry no i'm just headed to my apartment. If you guys want i can walk you guys to your car if you guys don't feel safe, i'll gladly like to help” the guy said, but we still had a weird feeling about him so my other cousin just said, “no thank you we are fine”. So after he just continued to walk, and as he walked away he picked up his phone and called someone. We decided to wait  there for like five minutes with 911 dialed on all our phones just in case anything else was to happen. And then we just see the black car pass by again stop and pick the guy up. That for sure was one of my creepiest experiences ever, that proved to me that they were all following us and who knows what their intentions were, what could have happened if we walked all the way to the car, we could probably have been kidnapped.

Now that I am seventeen years old, I see and hear about all these sex trafficking stories and it brings me back to that day. It made me realize how I have to be so aware of my surroundings and be careful when I am out. There are a lot of sex trafficking cases in the United States and I feel like this story has brought me a lot of knowledge to be aware of my surroundings wherever  I am. Reflecting back on that day we shouldn't have walked alone to the car, we should've had someone come with us or walk us to the car, especially knowing how far we had parked. It's so scary to think back and all the things that could've happened if we would have allowed the guy to walk us to the car, or even not stopped, like all the things that could have happened if we didn't stop and let him know that we knew what was going on. I feel like girls or just even everyone in general needs to be very careful, always pay attention to your surroundings and what's going on around them especially if you are alone or with a small group of people.

© Luisa Lopez. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.