But when local chef Tina Palmisano read the coverage about sex trafficking in The Times, she felt her heart start beating fast. She decided it was time to come forward with her story— without fear, without walls, without holding anything back.
She lived with her grandmother and aunt until she was three years old, after which she moved to live with her mother in Lafayette. She remembered hearing a lot of fighting growing up and said her mother tried to commit suicide several times.
But her life first changed forever when, at 12, she was introduced to the man whom her mother told her was supposed to be her "real dad. Her mother left Palmisano alone with him, and he drove her to a liquor store. Palmisano said the first thing he did when he got back into the car was to grab her breast. I can do whatever I want to you. You belong to me. She blinked back tears, then continued. Palmisano said some memories from that time blur or black out, but she remembers without question one specific date. She was in seventh grade at the time. Palmisano said she was a quiet, smart child who loved learning, loved reading — particularly story books.
She kept to herself and tried to stay out of trouble.
Shreveport chef: 'i was a sex slave'
Her attacker did — when he requested her mother in sex acts. At the start of her eighth grade year, Palmisano remembers a woman, who claimed to be the man's wife, came to live with them.
The woman was 18; the man was Following that phone call, Palmisano remembered being transported to a remote location in Minden and living in the woods for weeks before the man transported her and the young wife to a beach near Corpus Christi, Texas.
They had only been at the beach for three or four days when the young woman contacted her own parents to get out of the relationship. Palmisano begged to go with her Shreveport was left behind. The next five years of her life were endless cycles of rape, mind games, beatings and constant moves. Palmisano remembered living in cars, under bridges, in the woods and out of old hotel rooms. Though the man free trafficked her, Palmisano said he started preying on runaways and homeless people they encountered in their travels: first coaxing them, then forcing them to prostitute.
But Palmisano was no longer alone with her attacker: at 14, she got pregnant with a son, who was born at a hospital "somewhere in Oklahoma. Her baby would become a main source of hope for her in the upcoming years— but later a source of intense pain. One day after her shift at the day care where she was working, Palmisano came home to find her son, erotic at the time, was gone — kidnapped by the man.
By this time, Palmisano started drinking to cope and had been introduced to meth by a family member. She was deemed an unfit parent, and her stories was taken from her. She was almost 19 at the time.
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Her parental rights were severed, along with the part of her that still cared about anything. She still cared deeply for her son and wondered about him.
They wanted to re-open her case. If she could pull herself together, she would be allowed to visit her son once a month. Palmisano was overjoyed.
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Inshe started an outpatient recovery program through Northwest Regional Center in Shreveport and made a pact with God. Palmisano said one counselor in particular helped her by realizing how deep trauma complicated her situation. She became sober.
She learned her life was not over. She started a Christian step group called Recovery Redeemed that met on Tuesday nights at a small mission church in Bossier City, where she shared parts of her story for the first time.
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She started visiting the restaurant more. Palmisano told him her life story and said he never wavered in his commitment. They married. In addition to enjoying a happy marriage, Palmisano continued building a thriving professional life. She went on to become a certified Conference Management and Event planner in and became a certified chef through the American Culinary Federation in She has also served on the board for "Takin it to the Streets: Special Agents for the King"— a local outreach ministry that helps people— for two years.
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The only way to be set free truly is to surround yourself with others that understand and talk, talk, talk. Palmisano said the man was never prosecuted for what he did to her.
No one in her family ever came forward, but she heard the man had died several years ago. But Palmisano has found freedom in telling her story without shame— and because of the trafficking series decided it was finally time to take her story to a wider audience. Starts trauma therapy and addiction counseling. Home Life Community. Facebook Twitter .
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Shreveport chef: 'I was a sex slave' Despite an abusive childhood with unimaginable horrors, one local chef overcame adversity to find love and a full life in Shreveport. This is her story. Lex Talamo alexa. Show Caption. Hide Caption. Video: Modern Day Slavery in Louisiana. Sex Trafficking is happening in Louisiana, and on a much larger scale than most people realize.