By Holly Smith — From her column in the Elite Daily
My name is Holly Smith, and I am a survivor of child sex trafficking in America.
At age 14, I was a shy, insecure and angry teenager. I had just graduated from eighth grade and I was afraid of starting high school.
I was afraid of getting beat up, I was afraid of never finding a boyfriend and I was afraid of losing my friends. I was depressed and in need of real help and guidance.
I grew up in southern New Jersey, in a town so small that I had known most of my friends since kindergarten. In middle school, my friends and I often hung out at the local mall, and it was at this mall where I met a man who picked me out of the crowd and asked for my phone number.
I felt special that he picked me, and he told me that I was special when we talked on the phone. He said I was too mature for high school, that I was pretty enough to be a model, and that he could introduce me to famous musicians to help me become a songwriter. As a kid who grew up on MTV, this was my dream.
After we talked on the phone for about two weeks, this man suggested that I run away from home with him. And I did. Within hours of running away, I was forced into prostitution and coerced into working on the streets and in the casino hotels of Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The first man to whom I was sold told me that I reminded him of his granddaughter.