“I cannot be called brave and courageous until I do the hardest thing, which is to acknowledge publicly that I am a survivor of sexual human trafficking.”
And with that, Norma Bastidas changed everything.
Growing up in the community of Sinaloa, Mexico; violence, sexual abuse and human trafficking are a way of life, as the cartels run the streets. On any given day, young girls and boys are picked up by the cartels and violated – in a way that no child should ever experience.
Norma was sexually abused so many times throughout her childhood – that she lost count. She was kidnapped from a sidewalk in Mexico City, forced into the backseat of a car at the age of 18, and found herself hostage in a prostitution ring.
Saved only by the grace of a man, or as Norma references him, ‘her angel’, she was able to escape the bondages of this human trafficking ring, only to find herself caught up in another prostitution sex trafficking ring, this time in Japan.
Norma was forced back into the sex industry and worked as a high-paid escort without access to her passport. Her captors put massive debts on her life, forcing her to work to payoff these debts.
“One night I was attacked and almost murdered, and when I reported the crime to the police, it was never investigated. I was told that the attack was ‘due to my lifestyle,’ and nobody was ever held accountable. For the longest time I lived a life of self-loathing.”
Norma never gave up. She did get her passport back. She also pursued a degree in Japanese literature. Moved to Canada with a man she had married. Had two children.
“The path to healing was confusing and messy. For a long time, I was told it was my fault that those things happened, even by people close to me, so it’s difficult to heal when all you feel is silenced and shamed. It wasn’t until I was 32, divorced, and became a single parent in Canada that things started to change,” explains Norma.
There were now two predominate questions on Norma’s mind. ‘Am I happy with how my life is going?’ or ‘Is there anything I need to do to improve my current situation?’
Her story continues on the Brink of Greatness Podcast…
The Next Leap Forward
Her goal was to swim, bike and run more than 3,700 miles in 65 days across Mexico and the United States. Norma didn’t want to just break the record, she wanted to shatter the record, so instead of 26 miles of swimming, she wanted to swim 122 miles.
“I was so determined to break the cycle of abuse that I took a journey of self-awareness and to self-love. Training and racing are the places that I turn to when I want to tap into that place where I am not distracted by the world, just nature and me trying to figure out a solution to a challenge,” says Norma.
In May, 2014, single mom, survivor and ultra-athlete Norma Bastidas broke the Guinness World Record for Longest Triathlon after swimming, biking and running 3,762 miles (6,054 km) from Cancún, MX to Washington, D.C. This challenge surpassed anything ever accomplished in human history. Norma’s not only a Guinness World Record holder. On July 11, 2009, she became the fastest and fiercest female in history by running 7 of the planet’s most unforgiving environments on all 7 continents in 7 months. Norma trekked through the thick jungles of Brazil and the driest deserts in the world, all in support of the blind and visually impaired.
Norma Bastidas is a Brink Thinker. Her life mantra:
“You are not your circumstances. Your current situation is where you are, not who you are. It might be a long journey, but if you keep persisting, you will get to the place you deserve to be.”