Toledo sex trafficking victims speak out - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Toledo sex trafficking victims speak out

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TOLEDO, Ohio – Seven years ago, Michelle Moore, a victim of sex trafficking, walked a North Toledo street in search of men who would buy sex from her.

"There were a lot of nights walking down that street knowing I couldn't go back until I had made what I had to make," Moore said.

Moore has the physical scars, two glaring gashes across her neck from a man who stabbed her.

"He attacked me and he tried to rape, rob, and murder me," she said.

But she also has the emotional scars.

"You just get to that point where my self-esteem was so low."

Moore described the traffickers in her Toledo community as evil and deceitfully charismatic, using drugs and alcohol to keep young girls under their control, ready to trade them for quick cash.

"Once they get you under their control then the gloves come off," Moore said. "They're very charismatic until they get what they want…until there is no turning back."

No turning back for Moore, instead she is moving forward. She walks the same streets where she once sold sex, giving out her business cards to sex trafficking victims.

Moore is a senior at the University of Toledo, studying to be a counselor. And she works for Second Chance, which is a social services program for victims, providing food, comfort, and hope to young girls.

"My job here as a survivor is so important because they can look to me and say they we know you were in the life we know you have been there and you are where you are today," Moore said.

Just a few miles away, under a stained glass window at That Neighborhood Church, Lee Ann Campbell describes her childhood, which she says put her on a path that led to being trafficked.

Her step-father started taking photos of her and selling them when she was just six years old.

"Sex for money. It was quick and easy. You don't have a choice. There's no options. And the options aren't good and evil, it's just all bad," Campbell said.

Campbell said she abused drugs and alcohol as a way to cope.

"I actually threatened to go and kill my mom and my five kids," she said.

That incident led to jail time and eventually to recovery at Cedar Creek, a Christian healing center. Now Campbell is sober, has custody of her children, and volunteers in the community. She started a non-profit called Rayhab's Heart aimed at helping other women.

"Just walking with them, humbling ourselves to walk with them to start building that relationship to show them there is another way," she said.

While some survivors have changed their lives, the Toledo community has not been transformed yet, leaving serious work to be done to combat sex trafficking.

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