Child Sex Trafficking Survivor Brings Her Message to OC
Think child sex trafficking can't happen here? Think again. Holly Smith of Little Egg Harbor was lured from her home at age 14 into a life of prostitution. Holly, an adult who now advocates for survivors, is the author of the book "Walking Prey" where she talks about her experiences.
Smith said she met the man who lured her into prostitution when she was 14 at a local mall after she graduated Middle School.
"So we talked on the phone for about two weeks and he said things that made me feel special, like, I was too mature for high school and I was pretty enough to be a model," Smith said. "He kind of described his lifestyle, that he traveled a lot, he went to a lot of famous clubs. Then he starting talking about the idea of me running away. I ran away with him but within hours of running away I was forced into prostitution in Atlantic City."
Holly said she's hoping to help parents prevent their kids from becoming victims.
"Traffickers target vulnerable youth. So, I think that my best advice to parents is, if your child is struggling in any way, you have to connect that child with resources and support. Otherwise, the child is going to seek support elsewhere," explained Smith.
Smith said the prostitution came to an abrupt halt when she was arrested. She described it as a blessing in disguise but said she was treated so poorly by the arresting officer that it was difficult to see. She's also hoping to educate law enforcement on how to handle "Willing Victims" of child sex trafficking.
Holly will be speaking at the Toms River Branch of The Ocean County Library on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 7:00pm. The program is free and open to the public. Information and registration can be found at the library's website at www.theoceancountylibrary.org or by call 732-349-6200.