Sex trafficking is often thought of as a third world problem, something that happens outside the United States. The ugly truth is that it's a multi-billion dollar business that's taking place all across America. Danielle Douglas was a 17-year-old college student when she met her pimp, and was trafficked for 2 years before escaping. She shared her story on HuffPost Live.
After making new friends on her college campus, Douglas was on her way to a party when she met her pimp.
"When I got to the party, the person who answered the door was an older man, and there was obviously nobody at the house, so I thought I just kind of had the wrong house," she explained to host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin. "He basically said 'oh no, I know your friends -- you just had the wrong date, they must've gave you the wrong one. But I'm on my way out, would you like to join me for dinner?' And as a starving student, I said 'ok, I'll join you for dinner."
Douglas and the man developed a friendship, going to the mall, to the movies and watching TV together. "And within two weeks, everything basically switched. Instead of being this normal guy, he turned into a violent, abusive crazy person, and I had no idea what was going on, what to do and I was basically completely surprised," Douglas said.
"And when I tried to kind of say 'this is not what I'm here for--I had no idea about this,' I got beaten very badly. And that's when the fear started to come in, and basically just wrapped around me and said 'I don't know what to do--I can't do anything.'"
Douglas was forced to work around the clock, sleeping for only 2 hours a night. After two years, her pimp gave her an opportunity to visit her family, which ultimately allowed her to escape.
"The pimp just had too much confidence. He trusted me to go on a vacation with my family," Douglas said. "There were just two or three things that were really out of anybody's reach that basically saved my life. One of them was that I was in Buffalo and it snowed 6 feet, and I was unable to leave. So instead of having one week there, I had almost two weeks, which basically allowed me to kind of let that guard come down, and I was able to kind of get back into a normal thinking mode, instead of a trauma mode."
She added, "And the other thing was that everybody there treated me as if I had never been gone, and I think because they weren't eagle-eying me or asking me a million questions I felt very comfortable. That allowed me to be more trusting and allowed that wall to come down even more."
"And the third thing was, I had the support of my mother. I know a lot of victims of sex trafficking do not have a support system at all, and I was lucky that I had my mother. So because I had her, she allowed me to come back and live with her instead of returning back to the pit."