MILWAUKEE - The FBI estimates hundreds of thousands of U.S women and children are at risk of sexual exploitation through human trafficking, some of which is taking place right here in the city of Milwaukee. With summer serving as a threat to the increase of this kind of activity, A Cry for Help, Inc. is trying to bring awareness to the issue.
"The only thing I'm selling is love and hope," Laura Johnson said.
This after three years of being subjected to selling her body. 31-year-old Laura Johnson was lured into a life of sex trafficking at 14-years-old.
"It was a lot of trauma, a lot of nightmares," Johnson said. "[I was afraid] all the time and not being able to speak, and so today I have a voice. I am more than just a story."
Johnson was born in Chicago, but lived in Milwaukee for most of her life. It's here, in Milwaukee, she was forced into human trafficking. Back in Chicago, traveling down I-94, is where she made to perform her first job.
"It's easier to traffic girls through different counties," Johnson said. "It's just easier."
Preventing the ease of human trafficking that comes along with using I-94 as a corridor is in part why Johnson decided to walk Saturday. She and her partner, Bianca Williams, say they're stepping out in inclement weather because women and children who are sold for sex are often forced to do the same.
"Right now, Milwaukee is a hub for prostitution and human trafficking," Williams said. "We just want to bring more attention to it and let people know what's going on right here in Milwaukee."
Williams said her organization, A Cry for Help, Inc., also plans to promote awareness with the use of billboards displayed throughout the city and her hope is to help put an end to the illegal industry of human trafficking.
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