Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Five things you might not know about the child sex slave industry

by Kim Van Sickler

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.
vernon-james-joseph-spyde
Spyder. The man eventually convicted of trafficking Natasha Herzig. From YumaSun.com
2. On July 30, 2013, the FBI announced that it had just rounded up 105 teenagers ranging in age from thirteen to seventeen and 152 alleged pimps in a three-day sweep of seventy-six US cities in Operation Cross Country. Since 2003, the FBI claims to have rescued 2,700 children from prostitution. So many others are still out there or age into adults.

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
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?

17 comments:

  1. This is all so sad, Kim. I try to warn my daughter of all the dangers out there, but I know I won't stop worrying, especially when she goes away to college. This is a reminder that women and girls have quite a ways to go before we are truly treated equally in society. And let's not get into how it is in other countries.

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    1. Like the bus gang rapes in India. [Shiver]

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  2. Kim, This seems like a tough book to write. I admire your courage.

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    1. If I was writing it from the viewpoint of one victim in linear fashion, I think I would be overwhelmed by it. But I'm alternating points of view and moving backward and forward in time. Trying to get those elements right makes the project more palatable.

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  3. It happens to young boys, too. And when they age out of their desirable youth, they are "disposed of."

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    1. Good point, Kathy. Not to the extent that girls are lured in and kidnapped, but they are not immune.

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  4. My mother ensured I was aware and that I could talk to her if anything happened to me. Also it was not bad to stand up to adults. This problem is both sad and prevalent. It's great that yo decided to shine a light on it.

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  5. I was the most naive kid on the block. I had no idea of any of this until high school. Even then, I was barely aware of the tip of an iceberg floating far away.

    It's a good thing you're doing by writing a book to expose much of this. If it helps one person, all your effort will be worthwhile.

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    1. Some young girls are so naive, so trusting. They're cute and they know it and they desperately want to be perceived as adults. They don't realize how easy it is to prey on their vulnerability. In general, I wish young girls weren't so eager to grow up, but I don't know that anything can be done to combat that--not in today's culture. The next best thing is to educate them to the dangers out there. I don't want anyone to become paranoid or to change their personal style, but there are some smart decisions everyone can make to minimize their chances for trouble.

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  6. Yes, those are stunning facts and very sad. I wasn't worried about sexual predators as a child (I grew in Bloomington IN), but I had a little problem when I was college age. A guy forced me into an alley, but never did anything except tell me he *could* do something if he wanted to. I've been through a lot in my life, but thankfully nothing nearly as bad as being assaulted. Good luck on your book. It's important to work on something you're passionate about. :-)

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  7. Im Shauna Newell. I just want to say, im thankful to have shared my story. I hope Ive saved lives, or given people courage to stand up & join the fight against this horrid battle.

    Sbby01@gmail.com

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  8. Im Shauna Newell. I just want to say, im thankful to have shared my story. I hope Ive saved lives, or given people courage to stand up & join the fight against this horrid battle.

    Sbby01@gmail.com

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  9. We have to be aware of our surroundings at all times ! I was almost kidnapped by 2 men 10am one morning as i was leaving home depot just as i approached my car. Thats been almost 3 years ago , i can't get over that traumatic event i think about it everyday!

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  10. We have to be aware of our surroundings at all times ! I was almost kidnapped by 2 men 10am one morning as i was leaving home depot just as i approached my car. Thats been almost 3 years ago , i can't get over that traumatic event i think about it everyday!

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  11. How gullible can you get, mentioning Natasha Herzig in the same breath as the Cleveland Captives? This woman became a prostitute then a porn star.

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  12. You are soooo gullble, swallowing these invented statistics and the testimony of that "whore" Natasha Herzig:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4524780/reviews-1

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