Human Trafficking in the Upstate: A way out

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GREENVILLE Co., SC –  Putting a painful past aside is never easy.

One Upstate woman wishing to remain anonymous, told 7 News in an exclusive interview that she know’s that pain all too well.

“I’ve seen mothers selling their 13 year old daughters,” she explained. “I would never have believed the things I saw, but you become numb to it.”

She said she sold herself as a prostitute for years and was arrested in Greenville County 22 times.

Her life story, one of rape, addiction, and trafficking by her drug dealer.

She said the “John’s,” she was set up with, or men looking for sex, were from all walks of life.     “I had lawyers for johns, doctors, business owners – prominent business owners in Greenville County.”

For this Upstate woman, it was a life that she saw no way out of.

“I had a little trouble at first accepting that people genuinely wanted to help me without anything in return.”

But she said she was saved by the kindness and persistence of a total stranger.

“So many of these ladies don’t even realize they may be in a prostitution or trafficking situation as a victim,” explained Beth Messick, Executive Director of Jasmine Road; a non-profit that helps prostitutes and victims of sex trafficking get off the street and back on their feet.

“It’s really hard for them to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she explained.

Jasmine Road plans to open up a safe house in Greenville for 5 women who are committed to leaving a life of prostitution, or are victims of human trafficking.

Those women would be able to get free healthcare, counseling, and job assistance, according to Messick.

Messick told 7 News that she meet’s with women in these kinds of conditions regularly.

Many times, after they’ve been arrested.

“The jail becomes a revolving door for these women who are caught up in homelessness, addiction, prostitution, and incarceration and it’s just a never ending cycle.”

But it’s people like Messick that change lives.

And that’s exactly what she did for this Upstate woman, who was open to grabbing a helping hand.

After reaching Messick, she explained that she was able to get a job and become drug-free.

She also has a strong message for others in a similar position.

And it’s one of hope.

“There are people who are able to reach down into the darkness and help us out. And all you have to do is ask,” she said.

A path out of the darkness for those who are ready.

“They want to help save your life.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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