MIAMI (CBSMiami) — January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and a forum was held in Miami Thursday to discuss the growing issue here in South Florida.
Speaking her truth before a crowd of hundreds, Shanika Ampah had powerful words and even stronger voice but it was not always that way.
She says she was 11-years-old when it happened to her.
“After being sexually abused at home I was that runaway girl,” she said.
Ampah ran away and fell into the hands of a pimp.
“Raped multiple times, I was the girl that would end up in the abandoned houses, I was the girl that would just be shared,” Ampah recalled.
Ampah spent the next 7 years being prostituted, used and abused by multiple men before escaping at 18.
“I was disciplined because you know what side of the street to walk on or you’re gonna get whooped. Southwest 8th Street is where it started for me,” said Ampah.
At just 20-years-old Kayla Hatm is also a survivor, she was rescued from the life at 15.
I started hanging out with the wrong crowd basically, that’s all it took and then slowly I started doing drugs and cocaine and then it kept escalating,” Kayla recalled.
The women shared their stories in the hopes of protecting kids in a crowd where they saw themselves.
It was a party like atmosphere but with a serious message at Florida National University Hialeah for the 3rd Annual Human Trafficking Walk and Rally.
Students from schools around the county were brought in for a day of education.
Speakers explained that where they live, South Florida is a hotbed for human trafficking.
Modern day slavery, Ampah says is her story, she does not want it to be anyone else’s.
“To the kids that don’t think it could happen, to them the parents that don’t think it could be their kids, it devalues everything I thought of myself and it took a while for me to become who I am today.”