Since more sex trafficking cases in Lubbock have surfaced, more people have stepped up to help.
Whether it's Legislators like Rep. John Frullo, state programs like the Rape Crisis Center or just concerned individuals, many want to learn more about the world's 2nd largest criminal industry.
When Kale York went overseas on a mission trip with YWAM "Youth With a Mission", he attended a Muy Thai kickboxing fight. What he witnessed changed his life forever.
"They brought two women up to be auctioned out to the highest bidder," said York. "It's wrong and it's terrible."
Many concerned locals have banned together for a weekly workshop on sex trafficking. Members of the group are going over a course that includes the handbook "Hands that Heal." The workshop differentiates between human trafficking and human smuggling, among other misconceptions surrounded by the industry which generates $12 million annually.
"We can do something about this, we can work towards the change of laws and just work towards the best way of dealing with this," said Sex Trafficking Abolitionist, Peggy Galanos. Galanos is just one concerned citizen attending the workshop. She hopes to be better equipped to help educate others about the modern day slavery.
Megan Lee Norman, 20, was one of those victims. She ran away when she was 15 and became stuck in a dangerous predicament. It was a shocking revelation to the community when Norman and Chanze Lamount Pringler, 25, were arrested after being implicated in a prostitution operation in Lubbock that advertised the prostitution services of Norman and a teenage female.
"I also thank God everyday for saving me, because it was either prison or death," said Norman.
A big misconception is that all prostitutes actually want to sell themselves. Megan Lee Norman is one prime example of how difficult it is for victims to leave their situation. She shares the dangers she faced when she tried to get out of the modern day slavery. "At the time, I didn't even realize it, I didn't realize it until I got older and started getting abused and couldn't get out of it. It took me getting incarcerated," said Norman.
In addition to the mental abuse, Pringler was physically abusive towards Norman. "I had scars, marks, bruises, scratches and burns all over my body. My attitude changed and I was depressed all the time."
Norman said he threatened her life if she tried to leave. "A lot of these dangerous men are emotional predators. They have a sixth sense about how women operate," said Norman.
The local task force has worked on their community needs assessment survey since October. "We pulled people together from all walks of life," said Lubbock Rape Crisis Center Executive Director, Kim Stark.
The next step is to work with co-founder of Forensic Nurse Staffing of West Texas Dr. Carrie Edwards, to go over the specifics of the questionnaire. Stark says the task force wants to identify all factors before they provide the data to lawmakers, such as Rep. John Frullo.
Members of the task force will travel to Houston Tuesday to visit the Freedom Place, where victims of sex trafficking are in recovery. "They are also scheduled to meet with Houston's YMCA, who also has an effective human trafficking program."You don't want to duplicate services, of course, but you want to see if someone has done it before and are doing a great job at it. Then let's figure out a way to mirror what they're doing," said Stark.
Norman is now in the process of turning her life around and resides at the Federal Correctional Institution in Waseca. Norman is working on a memoir. She wants to share her story to help prevent girls from getting stuck in an abusive situation. She also offers advice to those already in enslavement.
She is in the process of writing a memoir, entitled "You Are Not Alone." Norman is also seeking out other training, such as public speaking, so she can be an advocate and spokesperson to help assist victims. She wants to share her story to help prevent girls from getting stuck in an abusive situation. She also offers advice to those already in enslavement. Norman shares with parents what potential warning signs to look out for. Click here to read Norman's full story: http://ftpcontent4.worldnow.com/kcbd/news/6-18-2012Scan.pdf
Her projected release date is August 4, 2015.
York will be attending film school in Australia in August. He feels compelled to educate others about what he saw firsthand, to help put an end to sex trafficking.
Galanos is in the process of writing a book about girls who have been sexually exploited. If you have been victimized and want to share your story, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Galanos said submissions can remain anonymous.
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