By Holly Austin Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Washington Times
On July 2nd, 1992 I was lured into running away from home with a man who promised me a new life. This man told me that he would introduce me to Hollywood celebrities and that he would help me travel cross-country to experience different cities and different cultures. He said he could help me become a model or an actor or a songwriter. This man promised to change my life and to make my dreams come true.
Within hours of running away from home, this man threatened me and forced me into a life of prostitution. Approximately 36 hours later, I was spotted on the street by Atlantic City police officers. I was arrested, strip-searched, and threatened with juvenile detention until I gave them my real name. Handcuffed to a bench, I waited for my parents to arrive at the station.
I ask you- did I choose to do this? Based on these facts, would you say that I, at 14 years of age, set out to be a prostitute in Atlantic City? No, I didn’t. If I was guilty of anything, I was guilty of naivety.