The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Chancellor John Sharp during a Board of Regents meeting discussing the appointmet of interim dean Mark Welsh and discussion of a McElroy settlement on Sunday, July 30, 2023 in the Memorial Student Center.
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Sex trafficking victim tells her story at A&M forum

Integrating stories of her own experiences as a victim, author Holly Smith came to campus Tuesday to spread a message—trafficking is happening here in the U.S.
Smith spoke about her book “Walking Prey” and gave what she called a “trafficking 101 informational” in the MSC.
Smith said she hopes students walk away with the knowledge that child sex trafficking is happening in their own backyard, and not just in foreign countries.
Sex trafficking, Smith said, is often portrayed in the media as something initiated by force, fraud, or coercion. Contrary to this, Smith said these means of initiation don’t always apply to children.
Having been a 14 years old when she first engaged in prostitution, Smith said she was lured into prostitution rather than forced or coerced.
Smith said sex trafficking is not just violence and that often times, the kidnappers develop a relationship with the victim, only to later exploit them.
“I was inspired to put my story into a book, to help people understand my mindset at age 14,” Smith said. “Because the more that society understands that these kids are victims, the more that they will be treated like victims and will get the services they need.”
Smith said she also advocates for care of victims after prostitution. Smith said this is in part influenced by her own experience of being arrested by the police for prostitution. Smith said she was not seen as a victim for quite some time after the arrest.
Smith said she was released from police custody with no victim services to help her cope. Smith said part of her advocacy for victims is promoting law enforcement education and aftercare for victims.
Smith’s visit is a part of a lecture series hosted by Preston Wiginton, a local political activist.
Wiginton said he first gained interest in combatting sex trafficking when one of his friends was almost sold into sexual slavery along the Mexican border. He said he hopes to be able to use the series as a forum for awareness and a means of bringing up subjects that are taboo.
“I hope to break the bounds of political correctness and create a forum amongst students that can be open and honest about these issues,” Wiginton said.

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