Fighting against sex trafficking: A survivor shares her story

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Anna Brewer, a former FBI Special Agent, spent a lot of time investigating sex-trafficking. She recently joined the board for Magdalene Omaha - a safe haven for sex-trafficking victims. She decided to get involved because she saw first-hand what kind of impact this lifestyle has on a victim.

"But I'm also fed up with the buyer and the consumer, and the fact that those people live among us, yet they think they go unnoticed," Brewer said. "And that's just not tolerated, anymore. We need to have a call to action to stop this. So no buyers, no trafficking."

That's what Craig Loya, the board president for Magdalene Omaha, is trying to accomplish. His goal is to build a community of women who have survived this very crime.

"The community not only transforms the lives of the women who are survivors, but the women who are survivors, transform communities, and help us all to challenge a culture that fosters different forms of addiction and that tolerates different forms of violence against women," said Loya.

But what does that violence against women look like? What does a day in the life of a sex-trafficking victim look like?

Sakura Yodogawa-Campbell is a Victim Advocate in the Sarpy County Attorney's Office.

"I am also a survivor of sex trafficking," Yodogawa-Campbell said.

Her story starts as a child.

"I wasn't sure who I was, didn't really like myself, always trying to fit in," she said.

Low self-esteem set her up for a string of unhealthy relationships - abusive, at best.

"It led me to what would ultimately be my trafficker, which was then, somebody I was dating at the time," she said.

No two days were ever the same, with her trafficker.

"Just because some days you could go through laughing and joking around, having a good time, relaxed, for the most part, and nothing would ever happen," she said.

But because she was able to work full time, it was "pay day" she dreaded most.

"That was when things would get really intense, because it was very common for him to take all of my money from my paycheck, and I would have to do certain things in order to earn the money back," she said.

It wasn't just her money he would take. Her trafficker started making money off of her.

She said, "At first it was having others watch, and then it was involving others."

There was always violence, she said, but it eventually took a turn for the worse. Her trafficker nearly strangled her to death on more than one occasion. Sakura finally walked away.

"But I had to get to the point where I recognized that I deserve to live, and I don't deserve to live like this," she said.

Today, there are only faint reminders of what she went through. She has scars from cutting herself back then in an effort to numb the pain, but they are now covered in tattoos.

Her voice now serves as hope for others who are looking to get out.

"And stay out of these situations, because there's heavy drawback into it, when you start hitting those barriers, of not being able to find steady work, bills are coming up, rent's due, utilities getting shut off. It's very easy, sometimes, to resort back to what we know," she said.

Magdalene Omaha is expected to be up and running before the year 2018. They are relying on donations to make it a reality. If you are interested in learning more about Magdalene Omaha, visit their website HERE.