Victim of human trafficking warns of online dangers
MOBILE COUNTY, Alabama (WKRG) – Breighanna Vigor, who goes by the name Breigh, was a sixth grader, middle school student from Semmes, when she was first sexually exploited online from her bedroom. Now an adult, Breigh shares her story. Technology is changing human trafficking and abusers can reach children even in places where children and parents feel safest.
“I didn’t think I was specifically a victim of human trafficking, I was like no because it was on the internet, he never physically touched me. It’s not,” Breigh said.
Breigh had been chosen to represent her middle school class, connecting with her classmates on social media.
“I was just walking down the line hitting the accept button. I think that’s what all college kids do. Without paying attention, I accidentally hit the accept button on someone I didn’t know, only to find out later that they were an online predator,” Breigh said.
Breigh began interacting with someone she thought was a classmate.
“As the conversation continued, they were gathering information about me,” she said. She only realized she didn’t know the person when it was too late.
“I’ve posted all my life on social media, posted a picture where I was in a dance class today after school, here’s a picture of me and my sister,” Breigh said. “Later they would use that against me.”
This predator, a man from California, asked Breigh to give him an explicit photo of herself.
“I didn’t know what to do in this circumstance. They started threatening me, if you don’t do that, we’ll kill your sister. I know where you live. You live in Semmes, Alabama. I know who your mother is, I know where she works. Your dad, they dropped everything,” she said.
She said she complied. That’s when things got worse, quickly.
“Every night I had to video call him and play a certain time every night. And that was because he was live streaming and making money. What if I wasn’t there at that point he was losing money with it. So then he would start to get really angry,” Breigh said.
“He was very tech-savvy, he hacked into all my accounts, so if I tried to go against him and say no, I don’t want to, then it was ‘well, I’m going to post this explicit photo of you on your Instagram. What will your friends and family think of you then? »
The abuse continued for three years before Breigh’s parents found out what was going on. Breigh’s mother, Cricket, said it was a shock to find out what had been going on for three years.
“Someone is handling my daughter 70 feet from where I sleep, and I didn’t know it,” Cricket Vigor said.
Late at night, Breigh’s mother came into her room and saw her child all in makeup. She said she knew something was wrong. And, Breigh admitted what was happening to her.
“Horrifying, and a lot to take in. The spirit just starts running over you. It’s like how did this happen, why did this happen, how did they find it, how did we get here, and the hardest thing as a parent was to know how I did not know? How did I not know,” Cricket said.
Cricket passed all the information it had to law enforcement.
“I’m honestly blessed to have parents who don’t take no for an answer. We took it to the FBI office in Mobile. The special agents there immediately recognized it was a flag. major red and took charge of the case,” Breigh said.
Breigh isn’t the only victim. According to the US State Department, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s tipline received 21.7 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation in 2020which was the most ever recorded in a single year.
The State Department also said law enforcement finds that victims of sex trafficking and victims of child sexual abuse material are coerced into creating live or webcam pornography.
And it’s happening right here in Mobile County. The Mobile County District Attorney’s Office said the Rose Center, Mobile’s facility for victims and survivors of human trafficking, is currently helping dozens of clients.
“80% of middle schoolers by the time they reach 8th grade have sent a naked photo of themselves to their phone. If one thing can come out of this conversation you and I are having, it’s parents need to understand their kids are doing things you don’t know they’re doing on their phones,” Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich said.
That’s why Cricket is now urging parents to know and track what their kids are doing online.
“Go through their list, how do you know this person, why are they on your social media? and if the child cannot immediately respond how they know that person and have a real, genuine, human connection relationship, then they should not be allowed on social media with them. We post everything there,” Cricket said.
It took Breigh a while to speak out about online abuse. The first time she shared her story was on stage as a contestant for the Distinguished Young Women Scholarship Program.
“I just remember the audience being quiet. And then the audience was people I grew up with, people who knew my parents. No one knew what I had been through,” Breigh said.
She now works with the Mobile District Attorney’s Office, telling her story to raise awareness of online predators. She’s the face of their “I don’t know.” Don’t Click,” their initiative to raise awareness about human trafficking and online predators.
But now, seven years after the online abuse began, it’s still a constant concern for Briegh and his family.
“He sold it. He just needed to physically put his hands on her,” Cricket said.
They hope Breigh’s story will help protect others from the horrors she has been through.
“Don’t worry about how many likes or followers you have because that’s how I ended up in this situation eventually,” Breigh said.
The man was never arrested.
“I don’t think you would even call him a typical predator, because he was young. But, the way he was so tech-savvy made it very difficult for me to tell anyone about it because, like I said, he had continually backed me into a corner. My FBI file went from Mobile to LA, Mexico, then he was arrested in Memphis, he had family in Mississippi. And many times he tried to lure me out of the house and I always said no. They arrested him in Memphis, but he was never arrested,” Breigh said.
Breigh and her mother explained that they had just changed telephone carriers a few days before Cricket found out what had happened. They swapped all their phones, so the evidence they had was gone.
“He’s still there. I don’t believe he is in the United States. But yeah, I can only imagine how many other girls are out there, because these predators, they just don’t stop,” Breigh said.
Breigh is currently studying criminal justice at Coastal Alabama. She said that one day she would like to be a district attorney.
If you or a loved one need help, you can find a list of resources on the United States Department of State website. here. You can file an incident report of a predator online with the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office here. The Mobile County District Attorney’s Office has a list of important resources here. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency also has a place to report these types of crimes with the Alabama Fusion Center.
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