Former teen sex slave devotes new life to helping others

May 20, 2013 8:23:50 PM PDT
Each year, thousands of women fall into the hands of human traffickers and become sex slaves. Because of Houston's proximity to the border and location on I-10 -- a major cross country highway -- and its large and diverse population, the city has become a major hub for human trafficking.

According to the justice department, one of every five victims of human trafficking pass through Houston. But one woman who became a sex slave was able to save herself and tell us all about it.

On the streets of Houston lies a dirty secret. And at night, the secret is exposed. This booming city is a hub for human trafficking.

"It's called survival sex and that's how a lot of our kids get caught up in sex trafficking," sex trafficking victim Cheryl Briggs said.

According to the FBI, the average age of a child sold into sex -- 12 to 14 years old. Many of them are runaways.

"My story begins at a very young age. I was sexually abused from birth until five," Briggs said.

At 12 years old, Briggs ran away from home in Ohio and began hitchhiking. She was at a truck stop when she met a man who would become her pimp.

"We had to go have sex with people who paid him money," Briggs said. "They started shooting me up with something called MDA. It's a component of ecstasy now. It's kind of an opiate hallucinogenic, and they did that so I would be able to make pornographic films.

"They were making us dance by day, and selling us at night," she said.

She tells us she endured years of sex slavery.

"A 13-year-old sitting there and going 'Oh my God, I cant believe this is happening to me and nobody's coming, nobody's coming to help me,'" Briggs said.

Until one day, she was rescued by a patron in a strip club.

"When I told the guy I was only 15, and he was like, 'My granddaughter is 15,'" Briggs said.

It would take several more years before she was able to get off of drugs and off the streets.

Nearly 40 years after Briggs was forced into human trafficking at just 12 years old, she has a different role on the streets. She's an advocate, saving other girls and women.

Now with a college degree, this married mother-of-three has started a non-profit and is about to open a safe house and long-term treatment program for sex trafficking victims. She's calling it My Daughter's House.

"One young lady had been trafficked since 9 years old. She had her first baby when she was 11. That baby was born dead," Briggs said.

It's happening everyday on the streets of Houston. And now Briggs is using her past to shape some other victims' future.

"It was the blackest, emptiest, scariest time I've ever had in my life," she said. "I understand where they're coming from. I can talk their language."
___________________________________________________________

Find Samica on Facebook at ABC13SamicaKnight or on Twitter at @SamicaKnight13


Load Comments