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Sex trafficking in the mid-state

Ashley Kirklen

It's the fastest growing industry and second largest criminal ring in the nation. That's according to the advocacy group Tabitha's House, in Buford, GA.

The director of Out of Darkness Ministry, a local non-profit which rescues women and children from this industry, says they've helped children as young as 12 and adults as old as in their 60's who've been abused, held captive and sexually exploited.

It's not just a third world country problem. It's not just a big city problem. It's happening right here in Georgia. Right under our noses.

Angela Brown says she met a guy and thought he was pretty decent.

She adds, "He said that he would treat me right and take care of me."

At the time, 30-year-old Angela Brown went willingly from Florida to Savannah with the man she thought would care for her.

"But once I got there, he wanted me to be his slave, his sex slave" says Brown.

Sex or human trafficking is the modern day slavery.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, last year, Georgia was ranked sixth in the nation for the most human trafficking.

They say there have been 2,059 victims of human trafficking in the state in the last decade.

This year, 150 human trafficking cases have been reported.

The FBI has identified Atlanta as one of the cities with the highest cases of child sex trafficking, in part, because of its busy airport.

Cynthia smith, the director with Out of Darkness Ministry Middle Georgia, says Georgia's highways make it a prime location for traffickers.

"Georgia and California are the only two states that have an intersection where five major intersections come together."

Those intersections include I-16, I-85, I-75, 1-20 and US-80. Macon is smack dab in the middle of a circuit for traffickers in the state.

Smith adds, "Traffickers move under-aged girls, and not just them, but adult women that they have under their control. They are Macon, Savannah, Augusta, Columbus and Atlanta."

Through sex trafficking, Angela was taken from Savannah to Augusta.

During that time, Angela says she was feeding a drug and alcohol addiction to numb the pain.

She says one of her traffickers held her captive for three days in his home, adding, "He would just rape me every night. Then he just let me go."

She lived in fear.

She says this same fear causes many sex trafficking victims to remain in that lifestyle.

"People think when women prostitute, it's a choice. I've seen a guy get murdered when I was out there. I've seen how they will beat people up."

Today, she educates people on how to spot the signs of human trafficking.

She serves on the board of Out of Darkness Ministry, helping other women like herself get out of trafficking.

She wants to give those women hope, the same hope which she says saved her life.

"Just continue to cry out to the Lord and He will answer."

Angela continues, "I don't think nobody can really set you free but Christ."

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