Inside the Lives of American Sex Slaves


"Every single person that walks the face of the Earth has an aspect of vulnerability," Mourning said. "We all have something that can make us vulnerable. Traffickers and pimps and anybody that is in that industry knows how to find that weak spot."

Jessica Ford, another young woman who is a sex trafficking survivor, told van Zeller that she was trafficked for years by pimps at massage parlors all over the country.

"Thinking back, it makes me sick how many different people got in all the different places in my body," she said.

Ford said she was one of hundreds of victims in her ring and that the that the youngest girl she saw being trafficked was 13 years old, but passed as older.

"We had girls in Las Vegas. We had girls here in Houston, Texas. We had girls in Oklahoma. I mean, there was girls just coming in from all over the place."

She also told van Zeller that while she was being trafficked, she was "branded" with a very large panther tattoo with the name "Big Jon" on her back.

"I was just a piece of property, that's why we got branded," she said. "I have a panther on my back. That was their little logo. Majority of us girls had a panther tattooed on us with their names or nameā€¦ you can't cover it."

In 2009, the FBI indicted the gang of pimps responsible for trafficking Ford, and in 2013, three of the traffickers were sentenced to eight years in prison.

"They should have gotten the death penalty," Ford said.

Thousands of times every day, young American women are bought and sold. Mark Blackwell and Amiee Johnson, local activists in Charlotte, work the streets regularly to try to rescue girls from being trafficked.

"They may not change their lives right away, they may go back to the streets, they may give up," Johnson said. "But they had an opportunity there that someone loved them unconditionally, and they'll realize that someone is always waiting for them to come home."

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