Suamhirs Piraino-Guzman | 2022 National Crime Victims' Service Awards
Suamhirs Piraino-Guzman was abducted from Honduras as a child in 2004 and brought to the United States, where he was trafficked. He was abused and exploited in California until a police raid discovered him. Driven by his desire to ensure that children, immigrants, and human trafficking survivors receive better support, Mr. Piraino-Guzman has shared his experiences and built a career of service and inspiration.
Suamhirs Piraino-Guzman received the Special Courage Award. Visit the OVC Gallery for more information about her work to support victims of crime.
SUAMHIRS PIRAINO-GUZMAN: Justice to me is defined by the person who experienced the crime. And giving them the opportunity to define what justice means to them is one of the most rewarding, rewarding opportunities in my work.
I was born and raised in Honduras. At the age of 14, I was working at a restaurant. It was time for me to go home. These two men, who I have seen before, came out of nowhere. The last thing I can remember of that moment is feeling like a wet tissue over my mouth and nose, and I was gone. I was just thrown in the van, and for several weeks, days, I really don't remember when or how that I even end up in the U.S. I was taken to a house. For six long months, people came into a room to rape a child who had no means of protection. In 2004, the police knocked down the door.
I found refuge in education. Going into college and understanding everything that had happened to me, I told myself it would be a waste if I didn't share my message with people impacted by trafficking.
I am now a licensed behavioral psychologist. I work for the King County Department of Community and Human Services. And I oversee the Mental Illness and Drug Dependency Unit. It makes me happy to have a full-time job, but also do those passion-driven things that I really love.
One of the most exciting opportunities was being appointed by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. I also serve at the United Nations Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of sexual and labor exploitation of children, especially boys. I also have had a unique opportunity to co-write SB 1322 that removed criminalizing victims of trafficking.
I don't know if I would consider myself courageous. But every time that I have been hurt, I felt broken; but there were so many more times that I felt at peace. I would have changed a few things about what has happened. But at that same time, I wouldn't change much. I am who I am. I'm married to the person that I love. I have a son. I have everything.
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