BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) –
It has been compared to modern day slavery, and it is happening right here in Louisiana. Human trafficking afflicts people of all walks of life.
“Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, human trafficking exists in our community and within our state,” said George Mills.
Mills runs Hope House, a rehabilitation center for victims of human trafficking tucked away in the woods of South Louisiana.
“They come from all walks of life, they come from all different social economic bases, all different races, all different communities,” Mills said. “When they come here, they’re broken, they are beaten, they are fragile. Their life has literally been snatched away from them.”
More often than not, the victims of sex trafficking in the United States are U.S. citizens. They are often young girls. Mills said one of the girls he worked with was first victimized at age eight.
Olivia is one of the victims currently residing at Hope House. Her name has been changed for her own protection. Although she is from out of state, her story is in many ways symptomatic of the life of a victim.
She grew up in what she described as an average, middle class family. She went to church and was working to finish her college degree.
That all changed almost overnight when she was in her late twenties. Through a dating website, she eventually connected with the man who would one day become her pimp. She met him over drinks. He was a friend of her date.