TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Each year, organizations across East Texas help save hundreds of victims from sex trafficking. Shannon Trest, executive director of The Women’s Shelter of East Texas, says you would be surprised by the number of sex trafficking cases in East Texas.
“It’s a huge problem,” Trest said. “It’s not only a big problem locally, but there’s so many prostituted women and children that are brought into our area from the larger cities.”
Trest says women and children are often brought to local hotels where they are forced into prostitution, many of them without the power to choose. Trest says in one East Texas case, a woman’s child was used to keep her from walking away.
“Her abuser, her pimp, was holding her baby basically hostage,” Trest said. “The only way she would to get to see the baby is after she would show him the money.”
Trest says their shelter currently has three victims who found the courage and ability to get out. She says finding that courage is often the hardest part.
“If someone tells you that it’s going, the first thing we have to do is believe them," said Trest. “Then we can figure out all the other things. But the first step is believing them.”
A recent study found that Texas was one of the top three states across the country for sex trafficking.