Minneapolis Police Step Up Efforts to Fight Sex Trafficking

Updated: 01/16/2013 11:14 PM KSTP.com By: Katherine Johnson

At 15, Joy Friedman thought her life had ended.  

"I ended up being raped by a pimp and two of his friends and held captive in a basement for over 24 hours," she said.

She felt trapped and tarnished after being used for sex. One day,  she didn't see a reason to run anymore and she gave in.

"Because if I get out, then who am I? who will I be important to? Who will need me?"

The FBI ranks Minnesota in the top 13 states for sex trafficking of minors.  But Friedman isn't a statistic. She's a real person.  She grew up in Minneapolis, and she was sold for sex on the streets of here for more than 20 years.
 
"I recognize that many of those cases sitting in my bin at my desk may be a victim that desperately need our help that we have not been able to reach," said Sgt. Grant Snyder with Minneapolis Police.

Minneapolis Police just finished a new round of training for hotel and motel owners and are working to change the stigma that goes with the word, "prostitution".

"At 15 years old if somebody put me out on the street with nothing at all, if somebody had thrown me to the curb and I was out there on my own, I don't think I would have faired as well as these children," said Sgt. Snyder.

"How many unreported case are still going on as we speak? How many kids are being recruited into this right now?" said Friedman.

The actual number of women and children being trafficked through Minnesota may never be known, but Friedman will always keep her doors open so those looking for a place to run can finally come home.

Friedman works at Breaking Free, a shelter specifically designed to help sex trafficking victims in the Twin Cities.  For more information, click here.