Sex trafficking survivor discusses challenges of breaking free at Mesa conference

Just 14 years old. That’s how young kids typically are in Arizona when they are forced into the sex trade.

But for Lakeya Shumate, it started even earlier. She was just 13.

“I was sexually trafficked and I dealt with pimps – women pimps, men pimps. I dealt with being beaten. I dealt with being raped,” Shumate said.

After running away from home, Shumate said she was taken to a hotel by an older boy and sold to a pimp for “$20 and some crack.” From there, she felt trapped.

“Pimps have this thing – it’s like handcuffs without the handcuffs on,” she said. “It became a ‘normal’ for me, so I couldn't get used to real life. Every time I would get a reality check, I would run right back to this fantasy world.”

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