Toledo, Ohio, may appear to be your typical midwestern city, criss-crossed by interstates, and marked by homegrown American pride.
But on those winding interstates are 18-wheelers carrying something so much more valuable and vulnerable than cargo—sex slaves, who are dying to break free.
The horrifying reality of human trafficking may appear to be far removed from our first-world country, but the truth is, this is happening all over America, to girls just like your very own daughters.
Meet one Toledo teen who’s experienced that traumatizing reality firsthand after being kidnapped by a local prostitution ring, in a time and place she would’ve least suspected it.
The 15-year-old girl was simply on her way to Wendy’s to get Frosties with her cousin before dinner, when a Lincoln pulled up and changed her life forever. The man snatched her and her 14-year-old cousin and coerced the two frightened girls with their harsh threats.
The cousins quickly realized that their only way to survive was to do as they were commanded.
“In the very beginning, they drilled it into my head, they drilled it into her head, that if we try to act up, something really bad was gonna happen,” said the teen.
Recounting one terrifying incident, she explained that he threw her into the dining room table, and proceeded to drag her cousin up the stairs by her hair, throwing her down the stairwell multiple times until she agreed to submit.
“I didn’t want to end up dead. I didn’t want her dead and it be my fault. It’s like they had us wrapped, completely controlled to where we were brainwashed.”
After being forced to “work the truck stop” countless times, selling their bodies to dirty men who threw them around like worthless rag dolls, the cousins began to lose hope that they may ever escape the living hell they were in.
“It was just an awful experience how many truck drivers, ya know, was okay with it. Not thinking that this is somebody’s daughter, this is somebody’s family member that is missed. You don’t think of that.”
But thankfully there was one God-sent trucker who did. Noting that the girls were really young and seemed to be coerced into a situation that appeared to be of their own free will, the trucker made one phone call that became their saving grace.
“That trucker, the one that made that phone call, I think about him all the time,” said the teen’s mom at their emotional reunion.
“I have never met him. I don’t know who he is, but I owe him a lot.”
The trucker’s call saved not only these girls but also broke open a case that convicted 31 offenders, rescued seven minors and shut down a 13-state prostitution ring.
And he’s not the only one.
Now Truckers Against Trafficking are making a difference nationwide with their passionate efforts to end human trafficking through partnership with The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and their Freedom Drivers Project. Over 100,000 minors are prostituted in the United States each year, and they are determined to make a difference.
See more from this powerful story in the video below and check out their website to see how you can help this worthy cause.