Alison Franklin said traffickers prey people who have been abused. As she got older she was kidnapped by gang members in Houston. “My real trafficker pretended to rescue me from them. What I didn’t know is they actually worked together to enslave American women and children in trafficking,” Franklin said.
She said in her early 20s, when she worked at the truck stop east of Austin with her sister, she was aware of “Lot Lizards,” women who worked as prostitutes for the truck drivers, but she didn’t think much about their ages or their situations.
“Thanks to the month-long efforts of our partners, 231 children are no longer vulnerable to predators who would seek to exploit them,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, GA. “Operation Safe Summer is another example of the FBI’s commitment to protecting our children before they become victims.”
Authorities in San Jose, CA. are crediting a 14-year-old girl with helping break up a human trafficking operation in San Jose earlier this week. The teen contacted the Crisis Text Line to report that she was being held against her will and forced to engage in prostitution, according to Sgt. Enrique Garcia.
“He just kept telling me all of the things I needed to hear, he told me that he’d be there for me.” “I so young and so naive, I listened to him,” recalls Jadyn Ferguson when she was 15 her life began to unravel.
30-year-old Anna Gutierrez of Nashville, TN. was placing internet ads and then forcing the victim to engage in prostitution with the men that responded. The victim told officers she was taken against her will from Arizona May 18th, and forced into prostitution.
[Perpetrators] engage in social engineering and make people think they are consenting participants to their own exploitation, when all the while they are pulling strings like a puppet master, says Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco, author of a book on sex trafficking
He had been in on it all along — and made her think she was, too. Sara was in shock, unsure how it all happened. For nine months, she said he trafficked her for sex from Naples to Tampa, Orlando, Miami and back again. Night after night, he pretended she had all the power.
Within hours, she said, she was being told to have sex with strangers for money. Thomas and an accomplice, Shanteria Sanders, gave her the drug Molly, a form of the amphetamine MDMA, marijuana and liquor to keep her compliant.
Edie Rhea is a survivor of sex trafficking. Her formative years were largely spent being sold for sex by her mother’s boyfriend. It began when she was 10 and lasted until she was 17 years old. Brook Bello, like Rhea, experienced sexual abuse before being forced into sex trafficking.Their stories of rape and assault are not unique among survivors.
“[The] average person seems to think it’s a foreign national who’s come from really far away… But the truth of the matter is in the years that I’ve worked with survivors of trafficking over 90 percent are U.S. citizens…”
— Andrea Powell, Katana Rising
Sex trafficking can be a hard issue to approach in a community, but it is not impossible, according to two members of ARISE Project for Humanity, founder Williamson Sintyl and board member Coco Berthmann while at a Northern Arizona University event. Berthmann, now 25, said if she had not escaped her life of being trafficked for sex, she would be dead.
“Children are being targeted and sold for sex in America every day.”—John Ryan, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Children, young girls—some as young as 9 years old—are being bought and sold for sex in America. The average age for a young woman being sold for sex is now 13 years old. Holly Austin Smith was abducted when she was 14 years old, raped, and then forced to prostitute herself. Her pimp, when brought to trial, was only made to serve a year in prison.
Theresa was blackmailed into prostitution as a teenager by men who had explicit photos of her. “When I learned what had happened to me was called human trafficking and that I wasn’t the only one – that there are hundreds of thousands of ‘Theresa’s’ out there, I couldn’t keep silent anymore.”
Human trafficking cases initiated in fed court dropped 29% last yr. This survivor has a message for people who think it’s not happening here: “I was trafficked in Jacksonville in the year 2013 for about nine months… It’s definitely happening in Jacksonville.” said Jenna Bourne
“I was born in great sin and that sin followed me for many years of my life,” said Sandra Richardson of Milwaukee, WI. As an early victim of human-trafficking Richardson recalls, “I could have gotten killed but God covered me because He knew I didn’t know better.”
In St. Paul, Minnesota (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Schools where trafficking survivors teach men who buy illegal sex to “feel my pain” are growing and succeeding as a way to cut U.S. demand experts say. In a typical “john school”, police, therapists, lawyers and survivors tell first-time offenders about the health and legal risks of buying sex and the impact on women who sell their bodies – which many believe is key to ending sex trafficking.
When she was 17 years old, Sara Kruzan was sentenced to life in prison without parole. She had been convicted of killing the man who had sexually abused and sex trafficked her for more than five years. But during her trial, details of the abuse were not allowed in court.
“We didn’t have food or money and this guy was offering it. I didn’t think I had a choice,” Angela says. She felt her self-worth disappear completely when the stranger subtracted the cost of the condoms he bought from the total he gave her. “I felt disgusted.”
Joseph Moore of Salt Lake City, UT. was sentenced to two terms of five years up to life in prison for sex trafficking Bailey Orr, who was 16 years old at the time and exploiting his own adult daughter for prostitution.
Orr is now 18 and agreed to share her story in hopes of helping other potential victims.
Donna Bruce in her late 30s and teaching about 20 students the physiology of hair, a passion of hers since she was young. What they didn’t know, or she didn’t think they knew, was her past. When she was a teenager, her mom trafficked her for drugs and money.
Sula Skiles is an advocate for sex trafficking survivors. She serves on the board of the The Trinidi Initiative, an extension of Lavished Ministries. As a survivor herself, she is using her story as a platform to help others.
“When I was 20, this was 15 years ago, I was a young, naive model in Los Angeles, went to just an event for the modeling industry,” Skiles said. One Skiles was overseas, she said what once was a dream come try turned out to be a nightmare. “Once I got there, I was forced to sleep with this monster along with other girls. They would come and go. Every night, there were new girls showing up,” she said.
When authorities busted what they say is a multimillion-dollar human-trafficking and prostitution ring in Jupiter last month, law enforcement spoke out against the horrors endured by women taken as literal sex slaves. The trafficking, they said, was not a “victimless crime.” But nearly two weeks later, the majority of the victims remain behind bars as law enforcement seeks their cooperation in the case.
Proclaiming freedom! Edie Rhea was in fourth grade when she was first molested by her mother’s boyfriend. One thing led to another, and Edie was ultimately trafficked by him as a way to support his business. By the time she was 17, Edie had been sold to approximately 150 men and women. It wasn’t until she left home that Edie first experienced freedom.
The Worcester woman is a survivor of sex trafficking. She said that although the Florida investigation involved Asian immigrant women being virtually imprisoned in sexual servitude at spas, the underlying issue is no different from prostitution on the streets of the city.
A major sign of sexual abuse is a change in behavior, said Jean. Children may no longer want to participate in physical education out of the fear of getting undressed in front of others. They may also start to exhibit low self-esteem, poor peer relationships or eating habits. Some victims tend to wear extra layers of clothes regardless of the weather. They may also revert to infantile behavior such as bed wetting, thumb sucking and excessive crying.
A woman who says she was sold for sex as a teenager is suing an Albuquerque motel and the now-closed Backpage website, alleging both businesses had a hand in allowing her to be trafficked. “The evidence is pretty strong (for) that hotel knowing what was going on due to the frequency of the visitors to the room,” McAdams said
Sex trafficking survivors and advocates are working across Wisconsin to help communities recognize signs of exploitation, such as tattoos used to brand victims. Nancy Yarbrough is a survivor who started Milwaukee nonprofit Fresh Start Learning, Inc. to provide resources to women and children who are victims of sex trafficking. Yarbrough told Wisconsin Public Radio that tattoos are commonly used in the sex trade to show that a person belongs to a specific trafficker.
Hope Green a human-trafficking survivor says, “there was never really a time when I did not get trafficked, as early as my earliest memory. Hope is one of the guest speakers this Saturday at the “Light Up the Night” event presented by Pasco County, FL. Sheriffs Dept. at Trinity College of Florida. Ticket are free.
Click “read more” for her story and more details on the event.
When she was 19 she was planning to join the Air Force and moved to California, where she met someone on Tinder and eventually agreed to move in with him. Before she moved in he took her out to a nice dinner, placed her purse with her phone, keys and wallet on his chair and asked her how she was going to pay for what he was providing. “He said ‘OK now you’re going to be a stripper and an escort’ and the only thing I could say was ‘OK,’” Skirvin said. “One of the reasons human trafficking has escalated exponentially is that there is so much reward and there’s very little risk … there is very little chance they’ll get caught, and if they do a lot of times they’re not getting prosecuted,” Reyes said.
A modeling gig set up by her boyfriend was the first night Sara was sexually assaulted. What followed was about six months of drug-hazed sexual servitude. The man she thought was her boyfriend became her trafficker. Sara was trafficked for sex from the Naples area to Miami, Tampa and Orlando in 2012. She was 21 at the time. “You don’t have to be broken,” she said. “It’s not the same recovery road for everyone. Not everyone will feel how I feel. Not everyone will surpass trauma the same way. It’s about how bad you want out.”
A small, spiral-bound notebook stays with a Greenville woman wherever she goes. For the past month, she’s been filling up the pages, growing her “thankful list.” She’s thankful to be alive. Thankful for a second chance. Thankful for a roof over her head. Thankful for a hot shower. It’s a new season of life for the 34-year-old since leaving a lifestyle of prostitution and drug abuse that began at a young age. The woman is one of five embarking on a two-year recovery program in Greenville that pulls survivors out of human sex trafficking, an industry that’s become a hidden epidemic across the U.S. and in South Carolina, particularly in the Upstate where Interstate 85 connects Atlanta to Charlotte, two of the nation’s trafficking hotbeds.
A Murfreesboro woman who was part of a human trafficking case managed to escape her captors Thanksgiving Day. The woman escaped her perpetrators by jumping out of a bathroom window in Murfreesboro and running to the Thornton’s on Old Fort Boulevard where she called her mother and then police. The 29-year old victim told police she had been sold, traded and swapped for money and drugs in the Bradyville and Readyville areas of Rutherford County, as well as Grundy County, and in Kentucky. According to a police report, the victim said she was given the drug ketamine, which induces a trance-like state, to make her sleep at night. Her captors also forced her to use cocaine during the day, she reported.
Years of forced prostitution and beatings. That’s the reality a human trafficking survivor shared Tuesday at the Manhattan Area Chamber’s Women in Business luncheon. The event aimed to show the impact of human trafficking on the local community.
“Many of our clients have been charged with crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers, or that their traffickers committed,” said San Diego attorney Jamie Quient, who started Free to Thrive last year. “They rarely speak up at the time for many reasons. Among them, they would rather serve time than cross their traffickers. They also don’t think they will be believed if they do speak up. As a result, society labels these victims as criminals.”
One of the victims said Brown threatened her with violence and intimidated her to “go get that money” or “prostitute,” according to a statement released by the office. She said he would use controlled substances as a means to coerce her into working for him in commercial sex.
Like many victims of a Connecticut sex trafficking ring that preyed on troubled young men and teenage boys for more than 20 years, Samuel Marino never told his family or police about being coerced into sexual relations with much older men.
When Americans think about human trafficking, most don’t picture a boy as the victim. But several studies, identified in USA Today earlier this year, show that boys account for a third or more of the children sexually exploited in the US.
Former Olympic gymnast Tasha Schwikert, left, answers questions from the media as she is joined by sister, Jordan, who was also a member of the national team, during a news conference Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, in Los Angeles. The two have sued USA Gymnastics for allegedly enabling and failing to prevent sexual abuse by the team’s former doctor, Larry Nassar. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Human trafficking advocate and founder and CEO of Runaway Girl, Inc. Carissa Phelps will speak about her experiences in the world of human trafficking on Oct. 26 at the Nebraska Union from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
On Friday, October 19, 2018, an FBI Seattle Division Child Exploitation Task Force (CETF), along with additional local partners, conducted an operation in the Everett, WA, area to recover juvenile victims of sex trafficking and identify subjects suspected of commercially exploiting children and/or adults, and other related crimes. The CETF contacted 11 adult females and two juvenile females being exploited through prostitution.
“It was a really dear friend to me who was in debt to, a drug dealer, and he left me there,” our victim said. “I was 17 and because I was really naive and innocent, I started doing drugs to cope with it. I tried to commit suicide.”
The Center, located in Evansville, is a safe haven for domestic and sexually abused victims spanning 11 counties in the region. Albion’s Community Engagement Director, Mallorie Cloum, tells us in 2016, the center served five individuals involved in trafficking. In 2017, the number was from 15 to 17, according to Cloum. So far in 2018, the number of victims who have come forward has climbed to 28
In the midst of a global reckoning over sexual violence, a Yazidi woman who was a captive of the Islamic State and a Congolese gynecological surgeon were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their campaigns to end the use of mass rape as a weapon of war.
At the age of eight, Jen Spry was trafficked by her neighbor. No one knew it was happening. No one ever intervened. “No one ever came looking for me,” says Spry, “because I never went missing. People need to realize that many young girls are trafficked while still living in their own homes, just like I was. You don’t have to run away or be abducted to be trafficked.”
More than 400 people attended the symposium, hosted by the Panhandle Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, to learn about human trafficking, signs of human trafficking and its victims. “This crime thrives in plain view,” Anna Brewer, a former FBI agent and investigator with the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, said.
Susan Munsey’s mission to help victims of sex trafficking in the US is a personal one. When she was 15, growing up in Los Angeles, Munsey started dating a man she thought was the real deal. “I’d never had a boyfriend before. He gave me compliments. He was charming. He took me out to eat,” she recalled. “I was insecure and didn’t have a lot of self-esteem. … And here I had this 24-year-old boyfriend. Wasn’t I something special?” Then he started abusing her. He forced her to sell her body. Months later, she was arrested for prostitution.
“People everywhere purchase sex, and there’s money everywhere,” she explained. Being sold, some days, up to 30 times in 24 hours, throughout her life, McCarty believes she’s been raped at least 43,000 times. “It could be a low estimate,” said McCarty. “I would think it would be a low estimate of the number of times I’ve been paid to be raped.”
From the outside, the Repeat Boutique looks like a lot of other thrift shops in Spokane. Inside, some might describe the stuff for sale as old, used, discarded garbage — but store manager CJ Curtis sees its potential.
mix of “kidnapping, torture and sex trafficking” is how 25-year old Lizi Mooney describes her three week ordeal in 2011. Seven years later the Colorado survivor is finally able to share her memories as a naive teenager who hopped a bus near Colorado Springs and arrived in Denver’s Civic Center Park just after New Year’s 2011.
At 33, Elizabeth Quiroz considers herself lucky to be alive. By the time she was 16, she was a victim of human trafficking on the streets of San Francisco, and arrested for armed robbery, the first of several incarcerations.
Her journey has been gripping, unbelievable and tragic. From murder to prison and then to the capital building. Joyce Dixson-Haskett has a story that will give you chills and, hopefully, a reason to take action.
When she was 21 years old, Smith became a victim of human trafficking. It started with a job at a strip club where she met a man who offered to take her out to dinner and let her stay at his home. He also bought her new clothes and drugs.