San Antonio tennis coach April Fricke is bicycling the entire length of I-10 in Texas, from Beaumont to El Paso, more than 1,000 miles, to call attention to the disturbing fact that I-10 is the busiest sex trafficking corridor in the entire country, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Fricke is a volunteer with Ransomed Life, a new non-profit that intervenes to help victims of sex trafficking return to as close as possible to a normal life following their ordeal.
Ransomed Life CEO Dawn Coleman says most people that sex trafficking victims are illegal immigrants, homeless children, or young prostitutes, when, in fact, the opposite is true. She says the average victim is introduced to sex trafficking between the age of 12 and 14, and most of them are normal kids who probably go to a middle school near you.
"The traffickers look for the vulnerable girls," she said. "Sometimes these girls are just looking for attention, somebody to listen, somebody to treat them special. And along comes someone who gives them the attention that they want, gifts perhaps, they just prey on the vulnerabilities."
She says traffickers are often what she calls 'Romeo types' who claim that they love the girl, or, in many cases, the young boy, and offer than 'glamour' and 'excitement' and 'travel' in their new life. That can sound enticing to even a middle class child in a normal home, who sees brights lights and wealth on TV and believes that accurately depicts the life they can attain.
Coleman says there are 78,000 young people being trafficked for sex in Texas at any one time.
She says this industry would not exist without buyers, and she says the buyers, disturbingly, are just as normal as the victims.
"They say the average buyer profile is a middle aged man, college educated, with money to spend," she said. "Somebody who has expendable income."
She says it isn't just truck stops and strip bars where little girls and boys are trafficked for sex. She says the trafficking can happen 'any time any place.'
And she says sex trafficking should make us rethink what many of us consider to be 'victimless crimes.'
"This 'harmless' pornography people think they're looking at, that's someone's sister, that's someone's cousin, that could be someone's mother, because that stuff never goes away."
Coleman praised the Legislature for trying to come up with ideas on how to make it easier for people to notice and to report instances of human trafficking. She ssays that's a good way to cut down on the number on young victims.
"One thing I tell people, is that if what you're seeing makes the hair on the back of your head stand up, its is probably wrong," she said.