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Young girls selling their bodies for money

Youth advocates say "survival sex" common

October 08, 2012|by Sara Forhetz, KY3 News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.--  Troubled teens are taking drastic measures for survival.  It's a sad reality that local experts say they're familiar with.

Many, they say, are turning to prostitution just to make money to live.

Local advocates say it might not look like your stereotypical street walkers, but they say young women-- Springfield-area teenagers are absolutely victims of sex trafficking.

Just a few clicks of the mouse and evidence that Springfield does have plenty of women selling their bodies for money.

"It's not happening in public... a lot of it is happening online," said Loni Brewer, Safe Place Coordinator and Rare Breed Youth Services Director.

Springfield's listings for backpage.com-- a site similar to Craigslist-- show hundreds of postings for women selling sex.  But what may not be so obvious by the endless postings is that many of these so called "women" are just girls.

"So many times their faces are blurred out because if somebody saw their face they could identify them as maybe that's a 16 year old runaway from Springfield," Brewer said.

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She is working to instill selfworth-- and hope.

"It is a situation that they don't even recognize that they are being used and abused, it is survival," Brewer explained.

Brittney Oliver fits that bill.  She is 19 years old, homeless, hungry and desperate.  We met her at the Rare Breed in downtown Springfield-- where some 12-hundred homeless youth have been served in the last six months.

"I wouldn't have chose it as my first choice but I had no other choice so…"

Survival sex is what Brittney calls it.

"It probably wasn't the best idea, but you gotta do what you gotta do to survive… and I'm pregnant so I got to make money for me and my kid to live," Oliver said.

She says she is impregnanted by her pimp.  Now, she says, he is gone.

Robyn Taft is a Juvenile Officer with Greene County and she has two clients like Brittney.

"It's our job to teach them that there are resources for that and you don't always have to make a bad choice.  You can make a good choice and there are resources in the community to stay away from things like this," Taft said.

But the girls vulnerability is Taft's biggest battle, and it's reality for countless young girls right here in Springfield.

"A child can get used to anything and if that danger of being used and abused by these pimps slash boyfriend is safer than going out and making it being on their own because then they don't have a protector and maybe that pimp is abusive… but at least they know the type of abuse that is coming," Brewer said.

There is a group of people trying to bring awareness to sex trafficking, and do whatever they can to stop it.
They are hosting a conference coming up on Saturday, October 13, in Springfield at Heartland Covenant Church, 1700 South Campbell Ave.

The group says each person really can play a role in making a difference, you can register here for the upcoming conference.

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