Human trafficking victim uses past experiences to raise awareness
TAMPA, Fla. - As early as five-years-old Kim Figuroa was sexually abused at home. From 18 through her mid-twenties she was trafficked across the country for sex.
" It's mostly learned through a trusted adult. So that can be a family member, a friend, somebody that you trust with an organization or an agency," Fiuroa said.
Today, Figuroa spends her time as a mentor who helps other women escape the cycle she wound up in. It's not easy.
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"A lot of times we're being forced into that engagement. It's not something that we just woke up one day and say, Hey, I think I'll be a prostitute today, right? No, no little girl has that dream," she said. "And so we are the victim. And then we serve a lifelong journey of trying to heal and regain our lives," she added.
She was part of a panel Wednesday aimed at increasing awareness of sex trafficking. Still, for all the headlines it garners sex trafficking continues to grow, often under our noses. Sadly Florida ranks 3rd in the nation, Tampa Bay in particular is a hot spot for it thanks to our interstates, beaches and major events including Super Bowls.
READ: Woman who was human trafficked as a baby helps other victims: 'They are scared'
"Most of the time, people that are going to the Super Bowl, we all know the Super Bowl is expensive, you know, So it's bringing in big money. And that's what we're trained," Figuroa said.
"What advice would I have for parents is for parents to be involved in their children's lives, not let your child just be on their phone all the time because that phone is the gateway to the world, the computer," said Dotti Groover-Skipper, the anti-trafficking director for the "No More Foundation."