MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — Breighanna Vigor, who goes by Breigh, was a sixth-grader, a middle schooler from Semmes, when she was first sexually exploited online from her bedroom. Now an adult, Breigh is sharing her story. Technology is changing human trafficking, and abusers can reach children even in the places children and parents feel most safe.
“I didn’t believe myself to be a victim of human trafficking specifically, I was like no because it was over the internet, he never touched me physically. That’s not the case,” said Breigh.
Breigh had been chosen to represent her middle school classroom, connecting with fellow students on social media.
“I was just going down the line hitting the accept button. I feel like that’s what all middle schoolers do. Not paying attention, I accidentally hit the accept button for someone I didn’t know but later found out it was an online predator,” said Breigh.
Breigh began interacting with someone who she thought was a fellow student.
“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 posted my whole life on social media, posted a picture where it was I’m attending a dance class today after school, here’s a picture of me and my sister,” Breigh said. “Later on, they would use that against me.”
That predator, a man in California, demanded Breigh give him an explicit photo of herself.
“I didn’t know what to do in that circumstance. They started threatening me, if you don’t do this, we’re going to kill your sister. I know where you live. You live in Semmes, Alabama. I know who your mom is, I know where she works. Your dad, they were name dropping everything,” she said.
She said she complied. That’s when things got worse, fast.
“Every single night, I had to get on a video call with him and basically perform at a certain period of time every single night. And it was because he was live streaming, and he was making money. And if I wasn’t on at that time, he was losing money off of that. So he would then start to get very angry,” said Breigh.
“He was very tech-savvy, he hacked into all of my accounts, so if I would try to go against him and say no I don’t want to, then it was ‘oh well I’m going to post this explicit photo of you on your Instagram. What are your friends and family going to think of you then?'”
The abuse continued for three years before Breigh’s parents discovered what was happening. Breigh’s mom, Cricket, explained it was a shock to find out what had been going on for three years.
“Someone is manipulating my daughter 70 feet from where I sleep, and I didn’t know,” said Cricket Vigor.
Late one night, Breigh’s mom came into her room and saw her child in a full face of makeup, she said she knew something wasn’t quite right. And, Breigh admitted what was happening to her.
“Horrifying, and a lot to take in. The mind just begins to race on you. It’s like how does this happen, why did this happen, how did they find her, how did we get to this point, and the hardest thing as a parent was how did I not know? How did I not know,” said Cricket.
Cricket took all of the information she had to law enforcement.
“I’m frankly 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 this was a major red flag and took on the case,” said Breigh.
Breigh is not the only victim. According to the U.S. Department of State, the National Center for Missing and exploited children’s tipline received 21.7 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation in 2020, which was the most ever in a single year.
The Department of State also said law enforcement agencies find sex trafficking victims, and victims of child sexual abuse material, are coerced into creating live-stream 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 helping dozens of clients, right now.
“80% of middle schoolers by the time they reach 8th grade have sent a naked photo of themselves on their phone. If one thing can come out of this conversation you and I are having, is parents need to understand their kids are doing things that you don’t know they’re doing on their phones,” said Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich.
That’s why Cricket is now urging parents to know and keep track of 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 can’t immediately answer how they know that person and have a true, genuine, human connection relationship, then they should not be allowed on social media with them. We post everything there,” said Cricket.
It took a while for Breigh to open up about the online abuse. The first time she shared her story was on stage as a contestant in the Distinguished Young Women scholarship program.
“I just remember the audience being silent. And then the audience, they had been people I grew up with people who knew my parents. Nobody knew what I went through,” said Breigh.
She now works with the Mobile District Attorney’s office, telling her story to raise awareness about online predators. She is the face of their “Don’t know. Don’t click,” their human Trafficking and Online Predator Awareness initiative.
But now, seven years after the online abuse first began, it’s still a constant worry for Briegh and her family.
“He had her sold. He just needed to physically put his hands on her,” said Cricket.
They hope Breigh’s story helps protect others from the horrors she went through.
“Don’t worry about how many likes or followers you have, because that’s ultimately how I ended up in this situation,” said Breigh.
The man was never arrested.
“I don’t think you would even label him as a typical predator, cause he was young. But, the way he was so tech-savvy made it really hard for me to tell anyone about this because like I said, he had continuously backed me up into a corner. My FBI file went from Mobile to LA, Mexico City, and then he was stopped in Memphis, he had family in Mississippi. And multiple times, he tried to lure me out of the house and I would always say no. They stopped him in Memphis, but he was never arrested,” said Breigh.
Breigh and her mom explained they had just changed phone providers a few days before Cricket found out what happened. They traded in all of their phones, so the evidence they had was gone.
“He’s still out there. I don’t believe he’s 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,” said Breigh.
Breigh is currently studying criminal justice at Coastal Alabama. She said one day she would love to be a district attorney.
If you or a loved one needs help, you can find a list of resources on the U.S. Department of State’s website here. You can file an incident report of an online predator 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.