Woman says victims of trafficking brought so low, they ‘pray for death’


Christine McDonald was 15 when she was sold for $2,500 to the owner of a strip club. The young teenager was a runaway and doing everything she could just to survive. The man who sold her was two to three times her age, someone who had lured her in with the promise of work, food and a roof over her head. To cope with life as a stripper and later as a street prostitute, McDonald turned to drugs. “I’d been branded like an animal, stabbed, held at gunpoint, chained to a leash in a closet,” she said. With a life like that, “all you can do is pray for death,” she told the St. Louis Review, the archdiocesan newspaper. After a release from prison in 2004, McDonald sought help for substance abuse and found employment. Today she serves as the director of community outreach and advocacy for Magdalene St. Louis, a new organization in St. Louis that provides a two-year residential program for women who have survived prostitution, trafficking and substance addiction. The U.S. Department of Justice has identified St. Louis among the top 20 human trafficking jurisdictions in the country. Tricia Roland-Hamilton, who is director of Magdalene St. Louis, said the residence, located in Old North St. Louis, is currently undergoing a gut rehab and is expected to open in early fall. The program will provide therapy, medical care, education and job training, among other services.