Breaking Free is a non-profit organization that helps women out of prostitution established by Vednita Carter, a woman who knows first-hand how girls can inadvertently fall into the dark world of sex trafficking.
"It's a very evil place to be, it's very ugly," Carter said. "After I graduated, I'd taken a job as a dancer, they called 'em dancers back then and me and a girlfriend thought we would do that because we were both going to go to college and they said dance and make $1,000 a week dancing, and we said, ‘Wow, we do that anyway that's easy.'"
However, the work quickly turned dark and ugly.
"We went for an interview and we were fully clothed and that's what we started doing. One thing happened after another and both of our lives changed. I was able to get out and that's not the story unfortunately for many women," Carter said.
For the last 17 years, Carter has dedicated her life to Breaking Free and helps 500 women every single year.
"That's not who they are, we help them to understand, you're created for a better purpose," Sen. Amy Klobuchar said at the Breaking Free Breakfast, an event aimed at raising awareness to the issue that ranks high on Klobuchar's agenda.
"It's not just Minnesota, as Vednita pointed out this is a crime that knows no boundaries, this is about the world, and has victims coming in from all around the world so it cries out for federal action," Klobuchar said.
Klobuchar will take Minnesota's Safe Harbor law and introduce it at the federal level, highlighting four main goals:
1. Victims are never treated as defendants.
2. Immigrant victims are protected across the country
3. increase damages that can be paid out when someone is a victim of sex trafficking
4. Create a national registry of the pimps and johns
"The next thing you know, they got to another state and next thing you know you find them in Atlanta," Klobuchar said. She hopes by expanding the Safe Harbor law she will in turn expand services available to survivors with efforts like Breaking Free employs.
"We do understand sometimes if you are with a pimp you have to sneak away, you have to try to make a call that he doesn't know about, and we understand that we might have to pick you up somewhere. I just encourage you to get the strength to do what you have to do to get out of that life, there is something better," Carter said.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
To donate or volunteer, you can call 651-645-6557.
Visit Breaking Free's website at http://www.breakingfree.net