Christa Hernandez finally escaped after 20 years in the commercial sex industry.
“Once you are in it. You end up crossing lines you never thought you would cross,” she said.
She said she was lured in by money and drugs and became a victim of human trafficking.
“I wasn’t in chains or captured in some cage. Actually less than three percent of cases look like the movie Taken.”
Eventually she said she found religion and a way out. She also came away with the desire to help others do the same.
For the last three years, her non-profit group Loving You Where You Are At, visits strip clubs and massage parlors in Pasco County, and a handful in Tampa too.
She said they bring gifts. And although they are faith based, they don’t preach.
“We go with a card that lets them know they are loved, valued and purposed. And that support is only a phone call away.”
Earlier this month President Trump announced federal agents are escalating the fight against human trafficking, with hundreds of arrests. Christa still sees the problem first hand.
Her group operates with the help of churches and private donations. And her big push now is to try and raise money for more safe houses where victims can stay.
“If we can save one girl than it’s worth it all. But it’s going to take a monumental change. It really is.”
She said she’s seen about 30 woman leave the life, and even one strip manager quit too.
Beginning Thursday, two men are running 120 miles in 4 days to raise money to help the group.