Holly’s Story

Holly Austin Smith Photo

My name is Holly Smith, and I am a survivor of child sex trafficking.

When I was fourteen years old, I was lured into running away from home with a man I had met at a shopping mall in Atlantic County, New Jersey. After exchanging numbers, this man called at night while my unknowing parents watched television in the living room.

We talked more than once.

Convincing me to run away with him was not an overnight accomplishment. He took his time. He got to know me. He analyzed my troubles, and he asked me my dreams. I wanted to be a songwriter. I wanted to meet Julia Roberts. I wanted to see Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris, France.

The year was 1992.

I was on summer break from eighth grade middle school, and my freshmen year of high school loomed in the distance.

I was severely depressed.

And as the pressures of my fourteen-year-old world boiled to the surface, I fled. I laced up my size-five sneakers, and I ran toward opportunity, toward possibility, and toward freedom.

In reality, I ran right into the inexorable clutches of a sex trafficking ring. Within hours of running away with a man who turned out to be a manipulative pimp trafficker, I was forced into prostitution in Atlantic City, NJ.

I was later arrested by a law enforcement officer and treated like a criminal.  Although I was eventually recognized as a victim, the specialized aftercare needed for a victim of child sex trafficking did not yet exist. The journey toward healing was a long and bumpy road.

Twenty years ago, there were no anti-trafficking laws in place. This pimp, who raped and lured a child into prostitution, served only 365 days in jail. Two additional traffickers were arrested; however, one (a woman) posted bail and fled. She is still considered a fugitive in the state of New Jersey.

I am now breaking my silence.

Today, I advocate for stronger anti-trafficking laws and greater protection for survivors of all forms of human trafficking.

To learn more and to help me break the silence of child sex trafficking, order your copy of Walking Prey now on AmazonBarnes and Noble, or IndieBound.

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4 thoughts on “Holly’s Story

  1. Hello Holly,

    As a survivor of human trafficking too, I have been encouraged to contact you by Mary Ellison and James Dold with the Polaris Project and many other anti-human trafficking advocates I know. Last year, I sparked a movement to pass legislation in Wisconsin which will allow victims of trafficking with criminal records of “prostitution” to have their records cleared. As a victim of human trafficking with a criminal record, I contacted Melissa Broudo with the Urban Justice Center in NYC who had facilitated the passing of the first vacating convictions for victims law in New York in 2010. She referred me to Mary Ellison with the Polaris Project and we have all been in close contact since early 2011. After rallying several sexual abuse organizations in Wisconsin, I have put together a coalition that is working on getting new laws passed here which will help victims in addition to the laws which have been in effect since 2008.

    James and Mary, as well as many of my colleages here in Wisconsin have practically been hounding me to get in contact with you, so I finally figured I’d better do it! I have heard your name so many times! They have all been a great support system for me. It seems like Mary and James want me to become more involved on a national level. This is something I am willing to do.

    I’m curious, does your career revolve around anti-human trafficking work now or is this something you do part-time?

    Lisa Tritt

  2. Holly,

    Your story will touch more lives than you could have ever hoped for. I have been serving on mission trips to Guatemala and started learning about the sex trafficking this past summer. Talking out in the open about your experience lets all of us know what is truly going on in our world and right under our noses. Yes, some folks will put their heads in the sand and deny it’s an issue but there are those that will have our eyes opened and because of that we will look for ways to make a difference. May God comfort you and all of those in the hands of traffickers as I write this. May he lead law enforcement and our community members to those abusing the hearts and weaknesses to their gain. Thank you again, Holy, for stepping up and taking their power away and putting the power back where it belongs with the Survivors.

  3. Really am glad to know about the noble work you are doing for the mankind. Am in police in India. doing study and research work on the subject. thanks a lot. god bless u.

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