For days, a 14-year-old girl walked around a Fayetteville motel on Skibo Road wearing nothing but a tight shirt and shorts that barely covered her bottom. She didn’t have shoes or any personal belongings. She didn’t talk to anyone. But she hoped a hotel employee or patron – anyone – would speak to her. She walked around the hallways, up and down stairs and into common areas. Her quiet pleas for help went unanswered.
After Fayetteville police rescued her, Kelly Twedell, director of the Fayetteville Dream Center, asked the girl why she didn’t tell motel employees, or anyone else, she needed help. “Because no one would have believed me,” she said. She didn’t run because she didn’t have shoes or proper clothes.
Her story isn’t unique. She was a victim of human sex trafficking, a $9.5 billion industry in the U.S. that awareness groups say is happening in more places than people realize – including Fayetteville. Victims struggle to get out while law enforcement struggles to get in. Awareness, law enforcement training and more effective legislation are increasing. But while society struggles to keep up, this cottage industry churns on, with lives damaged, profits made and no sure decline in sight.
Find out more about human trafficking.