JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After years of living on the streets and being sold for sex, a young Jacksonville woman is opening up about her past.
Alyssa Beck is 21 and was sold in the sex trade as a teenager.
It began when Beck ran away from home. She lied to a police officer about who she was. When she went into juvenile detention centers and foster care, she met other girls who were in the sex trade.
"I didn’t receive the services that I needed as a child," Beck said. "I think I was looked at as a bad girl. I think I needed a mentor. I needed someone to listen."
Her first trafficker held her hostage in a Jacksonville hotel where she was barley fed, or bathed.
"I was held captive in a hotel room. I felt really alone, like I had nobody," Beck said.
Beck was first sold in the Arlington area. Then her trafficker would take her all over Jacksonville and wait for her outside.
"It happened everywhere there were customers. In luxurious places like The Strand, customers by the Town Center, customers at the beaches at Ponte Vedra. It wasn’t really one bad place," Beck said.
Men -- one after another -- paid to have sex with her.
"I think they have a whole different mindset," Beck said. "I think they objectify women and girls they are paying for. I wasn’t a human. I was just an object to please them," she said.
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She eventually escaped.
"I ran. I fought. I fought for my life," Beck said. "I fought for my freedom. There was one day I said 'I can’t do this anymore. I have to get out. I have to.'"
During that time, Beck was in and out of juvenile detention centers and jail. She said she was treated for her substance abuse but never for the trauma of being trafficked.
At one point, when she felt worthless and hopeless, she was lured back into the sex trade.
“I just felt so dirty and disgusting and, to be quite honest, I didn’t know what was happening to me," Beck said. "I didn’t know it was human trafficking."
Her attorney Shannon Shott said the system ultimately failed Alyssa.
“Not every child that’s arrested needs to go to the detention center," Shott said. "Some kids are going to do worse when you incarcerate them."
But after leaving her dark past behind, Beck, who's an expecting mother, is hopeful.
"Hope is the biggest thing in my life right now. That’s what I hang onto," Beck said. "I think when I was a victim of human trafficking and when I was incarcerated, that was a 4-letter word I didn’t know. Now, it’s the biggest thing I live by."
For a complete resource center on sex trafficking, click here.
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