CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. - A woman who survived sex trafficking in South Florida is now working to rescue young women from the growing billion dollar industry.
Katarina Rosenblatt started her new foundation, There is H.O.P.E. for Me, to help women trapped in the world of sex trafficking.
"I go into the jails, I go into strip clubs, I go into group homes. I go wherever there are victims of trafficking, I go there," said Rosenblatt. "I share my story and girls automatically come forward because it is someone they can trust."
South Florida has become a hot spot for sex trafficking, especially Broward County. The industry generates billions of dollars a year for major organized crime.
"We see girls that are raped, 20 to 30 times a week, for $20 to $30 a trick. It's absolutely horrible the stories that we see," said Homeland Security agent, Carmen Pino.
Local 10 cameras found one girl being trafficked on the streets of Fort Lauderdale.
"Eight out of the nine kids that I recently worked with in a jail facility are returning home, not to foster care, only one was in foster care. Eight," said Rosenblatt. "Their parents had no clue that they were being trafficked. You know how difficult that is to break the news to a parent."
Rosenblatt said recruitment often happens online, including on Facebook. But traffickers are known to use victims to attract others. At age 13, it's how Rosenblatt found herself being sold for sex by her friend Mary.
"I remember when she introduced me to her pimp, he told me I could call him 'Daddy,' and he gave me a dollar for chips and that was it. He said, 'Well, now you're going to owe me,'" said Rosenblatt.
By the time she was 15, Rosenblatt said she was deep in the life and addicted to cocaine -- until her friend was arrested.
"She had gone to jail, and that scared me straight and I never did drugs again," said Rosenblatt.
Rosenblatt escaped trafficking, and is now an instructor at Trinity International University in Davie, where she teaches a course on human trafficking.
"You can make a difference in someone's life," said Rosenblatt. "And it's just a matter of going out there and telling them the truth and that someone loves them and that you don't have to live with this... If there is hope for me, there is hope for you, and I know there is hope for them, and that's why I do what I do."
On Saturday, a panel session will be held at First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale will be held beginning at 8 a.m.
Rosenblatt is looking for donors to help with her foundation. To help, email email@example.com.
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