TAMPA - A woman who was forced to work as a prostitute says she was a sex slave for five years before escaping.
The woman, who doesn't want her name revealed, used the name "Marie" to talk about her life as a hooker. "I was a slave," the woman said. "I am a victim of human trafficking."
Marie was a teenager working at a strip club in Miami when she was recruited by a man she thought of as an admirer. He turned out to be a pimp.
He drove the girl to Cleveland, made her change clothes and forced her on to a street corner minutes after arriving in Ohio. Marie says she turned her first trick before she really understood what was happening to her.
"I worked seven days a week. The only day he gave me off was Christmas," the woman said. "He would beat me. He would mentally abuse me. If I did what he wanted he complimented me. I thought that was love."
Marie claimed she was frequently shuttled across the country. She mentioned several cities she was forced to work, including Boston, Miami, Las Vegas, and Cleveland. It was not uncommon for the pimp to force her to turn 20 to 40 tricks a night.
Teenagers are frequently a target in the sex slavery trade. "We have rescued 43 children from the ages of 13 to 17 in Tampa Bay since 2009," said FBI Agent Dave Couvertier. "They were being utilized for the purpose of prostitution. In essence they were slaves. Modern day slaves," said Couvertier.
Marie managed to escape and is now living in Tampa. She decided to speak out because she's worried about other young girls. "It's an atrocity against our children that are being abducted and they are being sold into slavery daily," said Marie. "Right now, a child is probably being raped by a man for money somewhere in Florida. Slavery doesn't care about age, color, sex. It only cares about money. It's all about money."