Sex trafficking survivor hopes Backpage shutdown leads to awareness

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A sex-trafficking survivor in Phoenix hopes the end of leads to more changes and more awareness.

[RELATED: shut down by FBI]

She goes by the name “Danielle” and she says her introduction into the warped world happened when she was only 14 years old.

“I left home when I was extremely young and met an older man,” says Danielle.  “He asked me if I wanted to make some money and I agreed.  I didn't know what I was getting into.”

Danielle says the money allowed her to buy anything she wanted, but at the same time, she lost control and self-worth.

“After so many years of being in it, death kind of becomes something you kind of wish for,” says Danielle.

By the time she was an adult, Danielle says her world was so “warped” that selling herself seemed ok. 

Then she discovered Backpage.

“I had never made so much money in my life,” says Danielle.  For years the online ad site was considered to be the go-to place to buy sex.  The site was shut down by the feds on Friday.

“[It’s] kind of sad how long it took just because it's been up and running for quite a few years,” says Danielle.

By age 23, Danielle says she was simply “tired” and something in her finally clicked.  She didn’t want to live a life of abuse.  She wanted more for herself.  

Backpage is her past.  Danielle’s future is in her college studies and her advocacy at Phoenix Dream Center.  Among other services, the non-profit helps women just like Danielle.

“I still have hard days where I just sit and I just cry,” says Danielle.  “But at the end of the day, I have to keep pushing because I know I have people watching me and are going to follow behind me.”

Phoenix Dream Center runs the program Where Hope Lives.  Anyone involved in sex-trafficking or has a loved one involved in sex-trafficking is encouraged to call the program’s 24-hour hotline for guidance and resources.  That number is (602) 516-0033.

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