Sheila White ultimately worked through her trauma with the help of a case manager, who helped her understand exploitation.
Sheila White ultimately worked through her trauma with the help of a case manager, who helped her understand exploitation. Sheila White
Each week, Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.
Sheila White grew up in a troubled home. She was abused and ended up in foster care as a teenager. Not long after that, feeling low and confused, she met a man who soon became her pimp.
During the years she was forced into sex work, White was exposed to extreme violence. But, she explains, some victims have a hard time leaving their exploiters.
"As awful as the situation may be, there are needs that are being met," White says. "If a girl is ... homeless, if she doesn't have nowhere to go, and she doesn't have clothes or food or shelter, or if ultimately, if she doesn't feel loved, those are the things that her exploiter is giving her. And he's the only thing that's consistent in her life."
After several arrests, the court ordered White to work with Girls Education and Mentoring Services (GEMS), or go to jail. Since then, she has turned her life around, and she now works with GEMS to help other victims of sex trafficking escape and rebuild their lives.
The FBI recently led a nationwide sting that rescued more than 100 girls from child sex trafficking. The FBI contends that many of these children are trafficked through sites like Backpage, an online marketplace that NBC News dubbed "the current Craigslist for prostitution ads in the United States."
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