"I was raped. I was beat. I was hit by a car. I've had guns pulled out on me. I was forced to do all kinds of unimaginable things."
These are the words of Jessica, who endured this terror as a child, on the streets on LA not that long ago. She is a child sex trafficking survivor, in a city where child prostitution persists--and some of the victims don't survive.
The video above was just released by LA County Supervisor Don Knabe as a part of a County-wide anti-child sex trafficking campaign. In 2010, 174 girls--all under 18 years old--were arrested on prostitution-related charges, according to the video. Another 2,351 girls ages 18-24 were involved in prostitution cases.
And it turns out that child sex trafficking is insanely profitable. A trafficker can make $140,000 annually selling one girl, and most traffickers have multiple girls in their "stable" -- anywhere from five to 10 or more. That means pimps sometimes make over $1 million a year.
A probation officer in the video explains how the trafficking starts: "They bring them in and, in the beginning, it's all about, 'Let's go to dinner. Let me buy you things. Let's get your hair done. And let's get your nails done.' And then it becomes, 'If we want to sustain this, this is what I need you to do for me.'"
Supervisor Knabe explains how it often ends: "At the end of the day, these girls are going to die. That pimp doesn’t care about them. Once they're used up, they'll just throw them to the side."
He continues that part of the County's message to these girls--who are sometimes as young as 11 or 12--is that if they come to the police, they will be protected. This is crucial because prostitute "sisters" will often tell on a girl for going to the police and the pimps will try to go after the girl--sometimes resulting in death.
Although she survived, Jessica, quoted above, shares that she was violently targeted after she made it known that she didn’t want to be a prostitute anymore. A fellow young prostitute wasn't as lucky--she was fatally shot, possibly by a pimp. "She never knew her self worth. She always thought that she was going to just be what she was. And she could've been so much more," Jessica recalled.
The County's campaign started earlier this month and includes ads on over 3,000 buses in English and Spanish and 77,000 brochures released by Metro. Clear Channel Outdoor also donated over 50 digital displays and 15 traditional billboards to display the anti-trafficking message across LA County.
New York City
New York City Council member Melissa Mark-Viverito places a child's shoes onto a stack children's shoes, used as a symbol for child sex trafficking, during a protest rally outside the Village Voice on Thursday, March 29, 2012 in New York. A coalition of religious and civic leaders demanded that the Village Voice stop running their adult classified section. The protesters say the section is being used by sex traffickers peddling underage prostitutes. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
This undated photo provided by New Mexico Attorney General Gary King
A 12-year-old prostitute cries in a medical center in Kinshasa, Congo, on Nov. 7, 2010, after she was stoned by another child prostitute. More than 20,000 children live in the streets of Kinshasa, a city of about 10 million. About one-third have been accused of witchcraft and rejected by their families -- a recent development in a society being undermined by poverty. (Photo credit: Gwenn Dubourthoumieu/AFP/Getty Images)
A newspaper advertising board outside a corner shop in the Lancashire town of Rochdale, England, after nine men were arrested for child sexual exploitation on Jan. 11, 2011. Greater Manchester Police arrested nine men as part of an investigation into sexual exploitation and questioned them on suspicion of rape, inciting child prostitution, allowing premises to be used for prostitution and sexual activity with a child. (Photo credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Firefighters help rescue a prostitute after she became trapped in a tunnel from an offensive against human trafficking at the Super Frontera bar late on April 21, 2012, in Guatemala City. (Photo credit: Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images)
Undated handout composite image issued Tuesday May 8, 2012, by Greater Manchester Police showing eight of the nine men who have been convicted for luring girls as young as 13-years old into sexual encounters using alcohol and drugs, top row left to right, Abdul Rauf, Hamid Safi, Mohammed Sajid and Abdul Aziz, and with Bottom row left to right, Abdul Qayyum, Adil Khan, Mohammed Amin and Kabeer Hassan. The nine men aged between 22 and 59 are convicted of charges including rape, assault, sex trafficking and conspiracy and will be sentenced Wednesday May 9, 2012 at court in Liverpool, England. The ninth man in the group, a 59-year-old man cannot be named for legal reasons. (AP Photo / Greater Manchester Police)
On Aug. 18, 2009, a bar girl waits for customers outside a bar in Sungai Kolok in Thailand's southern province of Narathiwat. The sun hasn't set, but already the music is pumping and the disco ball is rolling in the Sumtime Bar, where Malaysian men are enjoying the drinks and women available on this side of the Thai border. (Photo credit: Madaree Tohlala/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese police watch over a group of massage girls suspected of prostitution during a June 21, 2011, raid in Beijing, part of a vice crackdown ahead of celebrations for the founding of the Chinese Communist Party 90 years ago. Rapid social and economic changes have made China "prone to corruption." and the ruling Communist Party faces a major challenge stamping out deep-rooted official graft, an official said on June 22. (Photo credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A Bangladeshi sex worker takes an Oradexon tablet in a government-registered brothel in Faridpur, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) outside Dhaka on June 20, 2010. Whenever Bangladeshi brothel owner Rokeya, 50, signs up a new sex worker, she gives her a course of steroid drugs often used to fatten cattle. For older sex workers, tablets work well, said Rokeya, but for younger girls of 12 to 14 -- who are normally sold to the brothel by their families -- injections are more effective. (Photo credit: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images)
A man demonstrates with prostitutes and members of the Union of Sex Workers on June 2, 2012, at Paris' Pigalle square, asserting their rights to work with dignity and respect. (Photo credit: Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images)
Wendy, a Nicaraguan sex worker and member of NGO Girasoles Nicaragua (Nicaragua Sunflowers), waits for clients on a street in Managua on April 18, 2012. (Photo credit: Elmer Martinez/AFP/Getty Images)
In this Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011 photo, Holly Smith, 33, looks out form her porch after talking about her experiences when she was caught up in a child sex trafficking ring during an interview in her home in Richmond, Va. A new report says 41 states have failed to adopt strong penalties against human trafficking, and advocates say a patchwork of differing state laws makes it difficult for authorities to target the crime. Smith said a man at a mall promised her a job after she ran away from home at age 14. She said she was swiftly brought to a motel where two adults gave her a dress, put makeup on her face and dyed her hair.