Posted at: 01/11/2013 10:38 PM
Updated at: 01/11/2013 10:42 PM
By: Steph Crock
(ABC 6 News) -- She was taken into the trafficking world at age 19. Now, that woman is spreading her message across the country. Stacy Jewell Lewis had been walking home, just like she had every day, when an elderly man offered her a ride. He had been paid to take her directly to her trafficker.
That's what brings her to Rochester. She performs in an awareness event called Breaking the Chains. It's a portrayal of her real life story and effort to spread an important message, that trafficking is still happening everywhere.
"He looks very harmless, maybe I can accept a ride to the train station," said Stacy Jewell Lewis about her abduction. Only 19 at the time, she thought this was just an act of kindness, but when the car passed the station it quickly turned into a nightmare. "They delivered me to the trafficker who held me at gunpoint at that time," she said.
From there it all happened so fast. "As they’re transporting me to another city, I am immediately drugged and I’m told the rules of this lifestyle," said Stacy.
A lifestyle she couldn't break free from for more than a year, being threatened and brain washed. "There's nothing short of rape, of beatings, of trauma," she said. She was one of the oldest girls there too. "I saw 13 year old girls and 14 year old girls," she said.
Girls just like her who were tricked and taken. Something that many don't realize happens all over the United States. “Minnesota's deemed number 13 as far as highest level state where trafficking incidents happen," said Stacy.
That's what brought her to Rochester, to spread awareness of this issue on stage. "We just go around and we use the performing arts to bring awareness and it’s powerful because it gives survivors a chance to speak," she said.
She and Rochester officials were there letting people know this is a real problem. It can happen to anyone. "They bring us together to share that, yes in fact, it is going on here. It's happening here in Rochester. It's happening in Olmsted County. It’s happening in our region," said Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem.
Stacy wishes someone would have warned her and that’s the number one reason why she travels across the country to share her story. "It's happening every day and it’s happening right here," she said.
There was a panel discussion at the end of the event with city officials including undercover agents. We were asked not to show them so they could remain anonymous. If you missed tonight's event, there's another one Saturday. That begins at 8:30am at Assisi Heights in Rochester. It goes until 1:00pm.