“Can this city really change?” This was a question I asked a young woman named “Dee” a little over a year ago. When I first met Dee she was working in a local “gentlemen’s club” and making a living the only way she knew how…by selling herself. After being kicked out of her house at the age of 17, she was recruited by a local pimp who began to take her down a dark path that she would not have chosen for herself. But being manipulated, threatened, and beaten tends to do that. And unfortunately, Dee isn’t the exception in this case. According to the Center of the Missing and Exploited Children, 1 out of every 3 runaway youth will be approached by a pimp within 48 hours of leaving home. After explaining to me how she escaped her pimp, we began to discuss how prevalent human trafficking is in Houston. With more commercial sexually oriented businesses than any other city, Houston is a hub for Human Trafficking, especially when it comes to domestic minors like Dee. In the midst of Dee exposing me to an underground world that few know about and even fewer talk about, I ignorantly asked, “Can this city really change?” Her reply was jaded and cynical. “No.” Over the course of year I managed to stay in contact with Dee. After a 3 month period of not hearing from her, I received a phone call from her requesting she come in to the CHILDREN AT RISK office. “I’m ready to tell my story” she said. A few of the CHILDREN AT RISK staff huddled around a small camera as Dee began to tell her incredible story of victimization and ultimately her freedom and recovery. I hardly recognized the young woman who now has a steady job and spends her weekends volunteering with a local homeless shelter. As I walked Dee out of the office and the elevator doors began to close, I blocked the doors and asked her one last question. “Can this city really change?” She smiled. “I did…” and the doors slowly closed. CHILDREN AT RISK will host our annual human trafficking summits on September 8th in Houston and on September 15th in Dallas. The summit will follow the Dee’s story that she courageously allowed us to video. Local experts will dialogue a simple question. How do we really change this city? Click here to register for the Houston summit. Click here to register for the Dallas summit.
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