Sex trafficking survivor shares her story - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Sex trafficking survivor shares her story

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Sex trafficking is rarely talked about. It's a silent crime that can be unknown and unseen by others until exposed. Jenny Almquist, the executive director of Fierce Freedom, said sex trafficking is closer to home than most people realize.

"It's a really big trend at the high schools where boyfriends are selling their girlfriends to their friends for money for favor, and for revenue, for drugs," Almquist said. "We know that also in the Eau Claire area, fathers are paying their daughters to bring home their younger friends for them. There's force, there's coercion, there's money to be exchanged. And that's the essence of human domestic sex trafficking."

Harmony Dust, a survivor of sex trafficking, shared some dark memories about her experience. "At the time, all I saw was this guy coming around, he made me feel protected he bought me food, he took care of my brother and I, and it was ultimately that relationship that led me into the sex industry at 19."

Dust said the Super Bowl is a magnet for sex trafficking. It's arguably the biggest sporting event of the year but it's also become one of the biggest nights of the year for sex trafficking. She said, "If you have an event, that draws in a bunch of tourists, the majority of which are men, then there is going to be an increase in sexual services and in that city."

Dust said she knows this to be the case from personal stories that other women share with her. "Women are brought in all over from other cities to serve the tourists and in that city at that time. So, it is interesting because some people are saying, 'It's a myth, oh that's not true, that's not really happening', but it is."

And what you watch or buy can contribute to sex trafficking. Dave Malone, the vice president of Fierce Freedom and former chief of police for the Eau Claire Police Department, said he thinks there is a cultural bias towards sexuality. "If they (men) think about it, and realize that they're actually contributing to slave industry, the second most largest crime in the world, perhaps they'll stop and pause, and that when they go to strip clubs, when they watch porn or buy it, they're supporting that very industry."

Dust will speak about her story as a sex trafficking survivor at UW-Eau Claire at 7p.m. in Hibbard 100. The event is free and open to the public.

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