CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Sex trafficking is a dark side of Charlotte and is a horrible reality for some women in the area, but one woman is working to open a safe house for those affected.
As it can be a difficult topic for survivors to talk about, a woman sat down with WBTV and told her story.
This happens, as another woman in the city is working with her and others, to turn things around.
"Once you get in it, you're in it. They pretty much threaten you, they own you," the woman said.
The woman lived trapped in a Charlotte brothel and it started when she went to jail.
"My life was already very broken anyway from childhood, and so they kind of made you feel like you belonged to something," the woman said.
A man bailed her out, but she quickly learned, it came with a terrifying price.
"When he got me out he told me I had to go earn the money back," the woman said.
Two years in the brothel, and two eyes, she says, open to Charlotte's underground world.
"They're everywhere. I mean, they're just absolutely everywhere," The woman said. "I mean there was like seven or eight brothels right there together."
Across town from her nightmare, a woman named Gayle Smith, with a dream to help women like her.
"To have a place where there's a community, where they learn to love life again," Smith said.
Smith runs a nonprofit mentoring women of domestic violence, drug addiction and sex trafficking.
Her latest effort is to purchase a property to run as a wedding venue.
All profits go to sustaining a safe house for the women.
"I don't want to see women trapped in situations because they think they don't deserve better or they can't do better," Smith said.
A survivor of domestic abuse herself, Smith found her strength, and raised two children on her own.
"If I could do this anybody can do this, there is healing available," Smith said.
The woman affected says the road to healing is long, but she hopes Smith's new project will become reality for the many other women she met.
"It's just really sad. Because so many of them won't be saved," the woman said.
Smith said it is no simple task to make a reality out of her dream of that wedding venue and safe house.
She has a few investors, but not quite enough to make it happen.
Contact information for those who wish to help can be found below.
- Dahlia Grove
- Gayle Smith 704-891-3033