Laurie Rea was trafficked for sex at ten years old and was prostituted for 20 years in 40 states. As a child, she believed it was her only way of survival since her mother was unavailable to care for her due to severe depression. Ms. Rea knew another girl in “the life,” making it seem like a “normal” way to get money to pay for her basic needs. She attended grade school on minimal sleep and while addicted to drugs, which she used to numb herself to her brutal experiences in the sex trade. After more than 20 years, she left “the life” through the support of Breaking Free, a sex trafficking survivor program.
“It’s important for those going through hardships to know that others have been through something similar and to believe that ‘if they can break free, maybe I can too.’ This gave me hope and I want others to feel the strength of that hope as well.”