Former Teenage Trafficking Victim Inspires Lawmakers in MN

June 16, 2011 
Minneapolis, MN - A 35 year old Minnesota woman was 10 years old when her stepfather sexually abused her. Soon after that her mom began telling her she didn't care if she ran away. Amber believed what she heard and began searching for love and protection in other places. At age 13 she met her pimp, a smooth talking man who wore nice things and told her all the things she wanted to hear.

Her pimp got her a fake I.D., transported her to Dallas, and forced her into the sex trade he ran. When she didn't bring back her $1000 a day quota[...]

he beat her and sent her back to the streets until she did.

"Basically, what I was just doing was just searching for someone to love me. I was searching for a father figure," Whitefeather said. "He said, 'We're going to be together for life. We're going to be doing this as a family.' It was more like a family team effort, like I'm a part of something."

Instead of being treated like a victim when police found her, she was put into jail with adults and had to fend for herself until she could finally escape from her pimp shortly before her 18th birthday.

"It's just a horrible thing when they get them young, because it just sets a pattern of destruction," she said. "It's just a hole in your soul."

Though she searched for a better life, the woman soon found herself stripping and doing drugs so she could support herself. She believed this was all her life was to amount to. Now, at 35, she is working to support kids and overcome the emotional and physical trauma she endured as a teenager.

This woman's story is one of the reasons Minnesota lawmakers are considering changing trafficking laws to help domestic minor sex trafficking victims. If the law is passed, Minnesota would be the fifth state to protect children from being prosecuted for prostitution. Current Minnesota law treats trafficked minors as both victims and delinquents.

In most cases, minors that are coerced and forced into the trafficking world are looked upon on delinquents, not victims. They have two options to escape from the trafficking world - to go to jail or return to the streets. It is important to realize the best option may be the one that Minnesota is hoping to give - a way out for victims, a place to receive treatment for all that they have endured.

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