Human trafficking victim shares her story - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

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Human trafficking victim offers hope for others

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Human trafficking is the second-fastest growing crime in the world and occurs in all 50 states. The victims are trapped in lives of misery - often beaten, starved and forced to work as prostitutes or take other grueling jobs for little or no pay.

A woman is sharing her story, and is now fighting back against human trafficking.

Kim Benson is a wife and mother. At age 18, she was betrayed by someone she trusted.

"You really believe that no friend would do that to you. She was my friend," Benson explained.

She said she went with her friend to a house party, where she drank until she passed out.

"I woke up the next morning with two-dozen used condoms all over and crawled out into the living room and there was no furniture, no people...the apartment was a set-up," she said.

Benson's so-called "friend" sold her to a commercial sex ring.

"She was handed a wad of cash as big as my head in a spiral knot," Benson remembered.

Ringleaders threatened to kill her if she did not continue to make them money. She said it took months to escape from the criminal enterprise that is now generating billions of dollars worldwide.

Ryan Dalton is with Operation Broken Silence, a group that tracks the most disturbing elements of this trade.

"If you're able to get a minor between 9, 10 and 11 years old, that child is going to be easier to control in the sex trade than an adult," said Dalton.

Many adult sex trafficking victims are often mistaken for prostitutes, who willingly sell themselves.

With the help of her husband Daryl and her son, Kim Benson formed A Bridge of Hope Ministries, which is a group dedicated to ending the cycle of abuse.

They target high sex-trafficking areas like Lamar Avenue in South Memphis, Tennessee.

"We want those individuals who have been harmed to know that there is hope," said Daryl Benson.

Roscoe and Deloris Johnson, pastors of Restoration Outreach Ministries in North Memphis, are also part of Benson's team. They help to spread the message of hope at school and church events.

"We know we're going to have people on Sunday and what better time to take it and put it as part of your message, part of your announcements, and give people the awareness of it and get people involved," said Roscoe Johnson.

"To a lot of people it's not even real, but now I know it's real. And to talk to the survivors, we know that it's real," said Deloris Johnson.

Kim Benson is real. And with a dedicated team, she is determined to turn tragedy into triumph.

"If you know something is going on and you choose to look away, you then become part of the problem," said Benson.

Remember - no one can force you to work in any job against your will or by threatening to harm you or your family. And your passport, birth certificate or identification card can't be taken away to control your movements.

You can help to stop human trafficking by learning to spot a person who may be the victim of human trafficking.  Click here to learn more.

For more information from the FBI, click here.

Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved.

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