Withelma T. Ortiz Walker Pettigrew

Survivor of Sex Trafficking, Spokesperson, and Advocate

Withelma “T.” Ortiz Walker Pettigrew

Born to parents addicted to drugs and raised in 14 different foster care homes by the age of ten,
T. Ortiz Walker Pettigrew was then trafficked by a man who promised to care for her but instead beat and exploited her for seven years. At age 17, through her own tenacious belief that she deserved a better life, and with the support of her court-appointed special advocate, she was able to escape from the daily brutality and terror she was living. A widely respected leader and outspoken crusader on behalf of trafficked and vulnerable children, Ms. Ortiz Walker Pettigrew was named one of GlamourMagazine’s “Women of the Year” as the “Bravest Truth Teller,” one of TimeMagazine’s “Most Influential People” and one of TimeMagazine’s “30 people under 30 changing the world.” She is currently a college student studying communications, as well as a widely respected consultant and advocate on issues concerning vulnerable youth.

“I am still learning to feel free and that I am not a slave and neither man nor money validates my worth. What was done to me is not who I am. I will be something greater than what was expected.”