Walking Prey

Walking Prey Cover

Walking Prey cover photo by David Baldeosingh Rotstein

Walking Prey is an academic non-fiction book about the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), including child sex trafficking, in the United States. Although I do share my personal story in Walking Prey, this book is much more than a memoir. I discuss predisposing factors, community risk factors, and the mindset of “willing victims”. A child victim who does not self-identify as such is often referred to as a “willing victim,” as was I at age 14 in 1992. In Walking Prey, I discuss the mindset of “willing victims” in order to offer insight to law enforcement, healthcare providers, and other victim advocates. My hope is that such insight will enable professionals to offer all victims compassion and appropriate care. Although this book was written with law enforcement and health professionals in mind,Walking Prey offers practical advice and information to parents, teachers, and community members alike. Without the involvement of the entire community, CSEC can and will continue to flourish in American communities. Order Walking Prey now on AmazonBarnes and Noble, or IndieBound.

Advance Praise for Walking Prey

“Rarely does a book synthesize the complicated world of the sex industry with such insight and thoughtfulness. Told from a survivor’s perspective, this book should be required reading for service providers, community members, and our young people.”

— Lisa Goldblatt Grace, LICSW, MPH, Co-Founder & Director My Life My Choice

“Walking Prey sheds light on the shameful reality of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking within the United States. Holly’s courage and resilience is powerful, as are her thoughtful recommendations for law enforcement, government officials, and parents.”

— Cindy McCain, Business Owner, Humanitarian, & Senior Advisor to the McCain Institute 

“Both as a parent and as the leader of a national organization concerned with the child sexual trafficking plague, I am grateful for this book and I urge parents and policymakers to read it.”

— Tim Winter, President, Parents Television Council

“In this thoroughly researched and profoundly moving account of sex trafficking in the United States, Holly Smith examines every statistic through a deeply considered reflection on her personal experience of being trafficked as a young teenager. By taking this courageous and generous approach she closes the gap between sensationalism and reality and opens the reader’s mind and heart past judgment and misconceptions to compassion and a desire to take action.”

Deborah Kampmeier, writer and director of Hounddog

“By candidly sharing her experience and her expertise, Holly Smith helps professionals understand how they can help, not hurt, child sex trafficking victims. She thoughtfully teaches parents, educators and all of us what is within our power to do to prevent this horrendous crime.”

— Melysa Sperber, Director, Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking

“In Walking Prey, Holly exposes how the manipulative tactics of sex traffickers is made easier by the media; this revelation still makes my skin crawl. Holly’s story adds fuel to my fire to continue to educate girls about media literacy.”

— Nicole Clark, Director of Cover Girl Culture

“Holly provides a vital voice to the anti-trafficking field and exposes the harsh realities of child sex trafficking in America. Her insight is courageous, thought provoking and timely. Anyone reading this book can use what they learn to become an active participant in ensuring a better future for our youth.”

— Staca Shehan, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

“Holly Smith’s Walking Prey is a brave and moving book. It stands above the traditional narratives of slavery and emancipation, achieving that mix of personal truth and intellectual analysis that marks the work of a special few like Frederick Douglass. Her story is chilling, and a strong reminder of our nation’s failure to protect its children. What makes “Walking Prey different is the deep and passionate, yet cool and logical, understanding of why and how our nation has failed, and what we should be doing about it. This is a book for everyone and one that is a must read for anyone hoping to see the final end of trafficking and slavery in our country.”

— Kevin Bales, Author and Co-Founder of Free the Slaves

“Walking Prey is by far the clearest and most compelling assessment I’ve read on the issue of child sex trafficking in the United States. It addresses the primary questions surrounding the issue and then offers practical points of engagement for those wanting to join the fight against it. I would say it’s a leading resource for anyone on the frontlines of protecting the innocence of these children in our nation.”

— Morgan Perry, Producer of Sex+Money: A National Search For Human Worth

“A brave and profoundly important book. In an engaging style and with wisdom gained from terrible personal experience, Holly Smith illuminates the issue of child trafficking and offers practical, compassionate, and useful advice for teenagers, parents, and people in the field. Countering the stereotype of the “victim,” she shows what sets many children up for abuse. She also illustrates how advertisers and marketers fuel the commercial and sexual exploitation of children and put all children at risk.”

Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D., creator of the Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women film series

5 thoughts on “Walking Prey

  1. This is a live changing thing and i believe it’s going to change many peoples lives, i love this.

  2. Everywhere I go cities and states are working on pieces of this multifaceted problem. Someone needs to pull us all together so we can join forces and multiply our efforts. Your book is the encyclopedic foundation for this start. Please get it out in paperback. I want to buy multiple copies but can’t at the hardback price. The kindle just doesn’t do it justice; there is so much to follow underline and cross reference. Thank you for sharing and educating. Let me know if I can be of help.

  3. I just viewed your interview on PBS channel 190 newscast here in San Francisco. After coming to and reading what you have on your site, I respect and appreciate the work you are doing. I am a 70 year young woman who was molested several times around the age of nine and repeatedly raped at the age of 14-15. One might say that I was a “willing victim” since I thought I was in love with the 36 year old married man. My parents had separated when I was 4, my dad was not present and my mother was paranoid schizophrenic who did not protect me. The men played on my need for attention. Had I received healthy attention from one or both of my parents, I most likely would not have succumbed. I am so glad you are helping to education the US and the world.

  4. Thank you so much! Your book is a wealth of knowledge for our team of advocates that wants to tackle the issue of trafficking in our community!

  5. i went to first grade in Tuckerton, NJ. My grandmother lived there on center street. Every year we visited for at least a week in the summer. I have such fond memorities of the steel pier and visiting Atlantic City. Reading your book I am learning the other side but not surprised. Every year my parents talk of voting to bring in gambling to Atlantic city. Sure never helped in my option and your book may confirm it hurt.
    Thanks for what you are doing to help youth. Or maybe in my future help me help youth by sharing your story.