By: Kimberly Davis, News Channel 5
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Human trafficking is a problem statewide and Wednesday advocates spread awareness to help anyone who may be a victim.
Tennessee announced a collaboration between organizations in each of the state's regions.
End Slavery Tennessee is an organization that helps sex trafficking survivors here in Middle Tennessee.
"Sometimes traffickers will literally brand their victim. They will put a tattoo on their neck. I saw one on the face but the neck is a common place… sometimes it's other parts of their body," said Derri Smith, End Slavery Tennessee, Executive Director.
The brands tell a story, often times one that many survivors of sex trafficking don't want to be told.
"That's basically a mark of ownership," said Smith.
But at End Slavery Tennessee, woman are taking back that ownership and are providing freedom for someone else who was previously branded.
"This is a community problem it's happening in hidden ways in our community. Once eyes are opened people will notice and identify victims," said Smith.
Identifying victims like Randy Carter who now works at "American Addiction Centers" in Nashville. At 8-years-old he was lured into the world of sex trafficking by his friend's older brother.
"When I came back to the room somebody locked the door behind me. They threw me on a bed, and hand cuffed me to a bed and put a gun in my face, a sawed off shot gun and told me if I didn't do what they said do they would kill me and they would kill my family," said Randy Carter, A Sex Trafficking Survivor in Las Vegas.
So he did, and four men molested Carter that day.
Though Carter wasn't branded, it was a nightmare that would turn his world upside down.
"Human trafficking in the case of a minor involves and minor in the use for commercial sex in exchange for anything of value," said Smith.
It was a nightmare Carter wouldn't wake up from for the next 5 years.
"If there's anyone out there that's being molested that's being forced to sell themselves, or doing things they don't want to do search out some help and tell somebody," said Carter.
"If you see a couple of those things happening and something doesn't feel right, it's really worth making the call to the hotline. It's better to be wrong than to miss an opportunity to help somebody," said Smith.
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