AUBURN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Every year in Maine, between 200 and 300 young women and girls are being trafficked for sex.That's according to the Maine Human Trafficking Needs Assessment, a report put together by Hornby Zeller Associates for the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault.In recent years, more and more people in social services and law enforcement have come to realize that most women who engage in prostitution are being forced into it, whether it's through organized crime, or an abusive boyfriend.But until now, there was no good sense of how many people we were talking about, and what happened to these women before they were trafficked.I hope that we can all get behind the idea that when individuals have a safety net, they are less vulnerable to exploitation.," Sprague said. They have a story like everybody else."Grant's life since her traffickers let her go hasn't always been easy.Grant said, looking back, all she needed was one person to say "are you OK" and things might have been different. She said, "Instead of looking at teenagers -- teen moms in particular -- like they're a problem... And it took 17 years for her to tell anyone what happened to her. Grant said, "It's just healing for us to know that people are listening to us and that this is going on.Not knowing what this job was, they went to a brown apartment building the next day. And that was all they needed to say."For other women, the trap can be health care they can't afford... Keller said, "Most women don't want to be doing this.
When nomadic herdsmen in the arid plains of Somalia need fresh water and green pastures for their herds, they rely on an ancient tradition called sahan.
They come from a dysfunctional home, and often, though not in Grant's case, grow up in foster care.
About half of them, though again, not Grant, become addicted to drugs. Portland Police Officer Mark Keller says he wants the men who purchase sex to understand that.
PART 2Destie Hohman Sprague, the associate director of the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said, "For people who want to make decisions for what comes next, this is more than just a number.
It can be a road map."Sprague said knowing, for instance, that being a victim of child sexual abuse or growing up in foster care increases your risk of being trafficked means advocates and the state can work on prevention with that specific group of people.
"These are women who have experienced sexual trauma and you, essentially, when you purchase sex with them, you are making that trauma worse," he said.