'I am here, I won': Sex trafficking victim speaks out after an FBI Wisconsin sting
Wisconsin police departments and FBI agencies worked together this week to rescue two Racine sex trafficking juveniles and arrest 82 suspects.
This week’s efforts are part of a nationwide sex trafficking sting called Operation Cross Country. It focuses on saving underage victims and stopping perpetrators across the country.
Milwaukee native Laura Johnson is just one victim who has been trafficked. It started when she was 14-years-old. A Milwaukee neighbor and young man that she thought had cared for her brought Johnson into a hotel room full or other women who were also trafficked. That's when Johnson saw her fate. She was trafficked for years.
“I was forced to eat dog food and I was tied up in the bathroom,” Johnson said. “I'm like I’m going to die, I don’t know why I am here, god can you help me.”
At the time, she could not get away even though she had tried many times. Her pimp had threatened to harm her family.
“He put a gun to my head. He said he would shoot me. He will kill me with no one knowing,” Johnson said.
Johnson is now 31 years old. She’s a mother, a wife and speaker. Johnson speaks across the country to bring awareness to sex trafficking, educate the public and help young women.
“I don't want this to happen to someone else,” Johnson said. “If I can help them, educate them; tell them what signs to look out for.”
The Milwaukee organization Exploit No More has been helping victims for the past five years. They educate people in schools, hospitals and events in the area. The group also works on prevention to help young women learn the signs and educate themselves. The group is also working on constructing a home where they can house victims, which should be up and running next year.
“When the victim is rescued out of this life, what's going to happen to them, what kind of resources and help is there for these individuals and so that need for helping someone coming out of that life is really important,” Executive Director of Exploit No More Jarrett Luckett said.
All in hopes to help woman like Laura Johnson be strong again.
“Look at me,” Johnson said. “I am here. I won.”
You can follow Laura on her Facebook page: I am Laura Johnson.