As Massachusetts lawmakers weigh new legislation on human trafficking, we take a closer look at how local girls are being targeted.
"I am proud I run a program for girls that have been through all I have been through," said Audrey Morrissey, the survivor-turned-advocate who works for My Life My choice.
State Rep. Michael Day is sponsoring legislation to get prostitution convictions vacated for victims. It's an important issue to Morrissey, who was trafficked herself in Boston more than two decades ago.
"When I was in the life, we were in an area called the combat zone," Morrissey explained.
She says her fear now is how to find victims today
"At least on the street, we were visible," she said. "The pimps are now putting children in hotel rooms, behind four walls — he's the only person who knows she's in there."
Morrissey told us how teens are trafficked across the state through elicit internet advertisements. One victim, who wants to remain anonymous, described the advertisements used to sell her.
"I remember they would use words like 'young, fresh,'" she said.
That victim also described the brutal violence she suffered when she tried to get out of "the life."
"I've been beaten, tortured," she said. "I've been left for dead."
"I thought was going to die in the combat zone," echoed Morrissey.
That's why Morrissey makes it her mission to teach the vulnerable before they are victimized, by educating young people.
"It is really a multi-billion dollar industry, and our children are being sold on a large scale," she said. "People don't understand this is happening right here in the United States."
The staff at My Life My Choice has helped 204 victims and vulnerable young people this fiscal year. But Morrissey fears for the victims still unknown.
"I never once in my life, when I was a kid, said 'When I grow up, I want to be a prostitute.'"