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Ex-prostitute reveals her story, new healing option for sex-trafficking victims

8:44 PM, Feb 18, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - Child-sex trafficking is not a foreign problem. It's an issue in America too. It happens more often than many Americans would like to think about.

In 2012, the FBI Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force (RMILTF) and their local partners rescued and identified 49 children who were victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The RMILTF alone rescued and identified 33 of these children.

"Starr" was one of these children. She just turned 17. Because of her young age and an active court case, 9NEWS is not revealing her real name and will not show her face on-air or online.

Starr first ran away from home at 12 or 13.

"I liked the attention from like guys," she said.

Eventually, she came back, but she ran away again at age 16.

"I was just really bad into prostitution and escorting - like on the streets of Colfax and backpage.com," she told 9NEWS Crime and Justice Reporter Anastasiya Bolton. "I got into the hands of some pimps."

She was also into drugs, fighting and robberies she told 9NEWS. During her years on the street, she was arrested multiple times and sent to juvenile detention. She can't remember exactly how many times she was in there.

A recent arrest placed her not in juvie but a residential-treatment program. That program finally pushed her to change, Starr said.

"I've gotten so far and have gotten so much help, I actually found who I am and what my values are," Starr said.

Now 17, Starr attended one of the treatment centers that helped girls get through various issues.

Until Monday, Colorado didn't have a residential-treatment center that specialized in helping girls who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

"This is a dream come true," Loren Fardulis, founder and CEO of Amy's House, said.

Amy's House just opened its doors and will be a home to eight girls.

"This is a brand new look," Fardulis said. "In fact, it's so brand new, [there are] less than 50 beds in America to serve the kids."

It's the first residential-treatment center in Colorado to specialize in girls like Starr and other domestic victims of sex-trafficking who are minors. Amy's House serves girls ages 12 to 17.

"Twenty-four hours a day, they're in a safe secure place and the whole concept [is to] healing this enormous trauma," Fardulis said. "This just isn't typical trauma happening. Imagine [a] 13-, 14-year-old girl that's been abducted and forced into turning up to 30 tricks sexually with a stranger a day."

The girls at the residential-treatment center will get counseling, education and support. The girls will stay there for two years.

"The demand for children for sex is a man's problem that's embarrassing, and I feel called to do something about it," Fardulis said.

While Starr attending a different program than Amy's House , she said it changed her life.

"They taught me so many life skills," Starr told 9NEWS. "I could've been killed [on the street]."

She's planning to go to college and become a victims' advocate, so she can help others like her.

Experts say the problem of child-sex trafficking is larger than the arrest records. Those statistics only show the kids police have been able to save.

Between 2006 and 2011, Denver Police conducted 144 human-trafficking investigations, rescued and identified 120 victims - 47 of which were children.

More than 120 people were arrested for pimping, pandering and or sex-trafficking related charges.

9NEWS intentionally won't disclose the exact location of the home. It's supposed to be away from people who pose danger to these girls. The house mostly operates on donations. If you are interested in helping or getting involved, learn more here,
http://kairosyfs.org/programs-services/amys-house/

READ MORE ABOUT CHILDREN LIVING AS PROSTITUTES FROM PREVIOUS REPORTS BY 9NEWS

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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