The genesis for my current WIP was Natasha Herzig.
But then it was infused by the horrors of Ariel Castro, Michael Madison, Jeremy Mack and Ashley Onysk, and the Ashland County woman who was kept prisoner for two years as house slave, sex slave, and all-around punching bag. Topped off by recent prostitution stings. All happening in and around the northern Ohio area where I live. All were uncovered while I was researching sex slavery and preparing to write my book.
The Mall in Gullybrook is my attempt to shine a spotlight on the very real problem of kidnapping everyday American teenagers to serve the sex slave industry. My story follows three teenagers from the fictional town of Gullybrook as they are kidnapped and forced to sell their bodies to survive. Here are some of the things I discovered while writing it.
1. Natasha Herzig, an all-American teenager in California, was approached by a woman working a cosmetics counter at the mall, complimented on her looks, and offered a job working with make-up. She went to a job interview in a seemingly legitimate setting where she filled out paperwork, giving personal information about herself. It was when she was called in for a second interview that she was kidnapped.
|Spyder. The man eventually convicted of trafficking Natasha Herzig. From YumaSun.com|
3. Twelve to fourteen is the average age that girls get lured into prostitution. That scary statistic is courtesy of Michelle Hannan, director of professional and community services for the Salvation Army. She says that while traffickers might make an average of $500-$1,000 per girl/per night, the girl might get a trip to McDonald's or a nail salon for her efforts.
4. According to the latest Ohio Human Trafficking Commission study, a female was usually involved at some point in the kidnapping process. Kidnappers and their accomplices find their victims online, at malls, amusement parks, schools. Any place that kids gather. No place is off-limits.
5. Kidnappers are savvy at snagging their victims and forcing them into compliance. Pimps and their accomplices pretend to be an understanding friend or boyfriend, get their victims addicted to drugs, beat them, rape them, imprison them, deprive them of basic necessities like clothing and food, humiliate them, and threaten to harm or kill the victims' loved ones. For instance, in Pensacola, FL, 16-year-old Shauna Newell was invited to a sleepover by a new girl in school. The girl's "father" drove the girls to an empty house and gave the thirsty Shauna a drink of water. She blacked out, coming to while being raped by a stranger. Three days later, after repeated rapes, beatings, and continual drugging, she was found barely alive and airlifted to safety.
|Shauna Newell from http://www.bittenandbound.com/2008/10/09/shauna-newell-sex-slaves-in-the-suburbs-video/|
When you were a kid, were you aware of sexual predators? Did they ever worry you?