The hidden hell of a Houston sex slave

11:37 AM CDT on Friday, April 10, 2009

By Rucks Russell / 11 News

HOUSTON—It’s easy to pass by Houston’s hot-sheet motels without giving them much thought.

Houston’s dark secret: Inside the life of a prostitute
April 9, 2009

But many of them are harboring a dark secret behind their closed doors.

It’s a secret world a young woman who calls herself Miley knows all too well.

“Cigarette burns all over the comforters, roaches climbing up the walls,” Miley said. “This is happening. This is going on right under our noses.”

She’s talking about sexual slavery.

Miley says she got sucked into that life as a rebellious teenager who grew up near Washington, D.C. She says she was slightly overweight and insecure, and her parents were often too busy to notice.

“I was experimenting with a lot of things, listening to crazy music and wearing crazy clothes,” she said.

That was when she met her first pimp, and in the beginning, she says it all seemed innocent.

“I met my first pimp, I met my first turnout pimp, the man who turned me out. I met him at a mall,” Miley said. “He said, ‘You’re so pretty.’”

Miley says those words were followed by compliments and gifts. Eventually, she ran away from home and moved in with him.

“He took me shopping a lot, out to eat and just really took care of me. Treated me like a princess,” Miley said.

But that fairy tale was about to end.

“When I turned my first trick, when I had my first date, I was 15,” Miley said.

She was told that was the price she had to pay, and that nothing in life is free.

Miley says she was given fake IDs and shuttled from state to state, sold for sex by a pimp who got her hooked on drugs and treated her like spent property.

“They were doctors, lawyers, policemen and fire chiefs,” Miley said of her clients.

She said her pimp’s behavior became more and more abusive.

“He’s beat me over the head with a baseball bat, beat my back,” she said.

Miley says he even branded her with his street name before trading her for a pack of cigarettes to a pimp called Money Hungry.

“He told me that this was to be my new pimp, this was my new daddy,” Miley said.

She said her new pimp advertised her on the Internet, using display photos and a fake biography.

“I did awful things for money. Awful things for money. And I never saw a penny,” Miley said.

But she did see the seedy underside of cities across the country, including Houston, where she landed in March.

“I’ve been choked. I’ve been spat on. I’ve been left for dead,” she said.

At 27, Miley found herself lost in a hidden hell.

But in the midst of the squalor, inside a rundown hot-sheet motel, Miley says she hit her rock bottom. A dozen years of torment, abuse and turning tricks culminated in the decision that it was finally time to get out.

“I said, ‘You know what, I’m just done. I’m either gonna kill myself or I’m gonna leave, and this is it. It’s now or never,’” she said.

Miley says she called the police for help, and officers put her in touch with Kathryn Griffin, who runs a halfway house for reforming prostitutes.

“I know there’s a chance for some of these women to turn their lives around,” Griffin said.

Kristin Reyler agrees. She supervises the FBI’s Innocence Lost Initiative, a multi-agency task force that tries to rescue kids from the sex trade.

“Each story in and of itself is heartbreaking,” Reyler said. “This is a system of recruitment, and it is based on emotion and it is based on psychology.”

It’s also based on violence.

Miley played for 11 News a threatening voicemail from her pimp in which he said he was going to beat her, and she was going to “get it.”

But she says she doesn’t care.

“I’m done with fear. I’m done living my life in fear,” she said.

That’s why she says she’s speaking out.

“People patronize us. They come and they spend their money and they don’t know the truth. They don’t know the truth,” she said.

Miley’s truth is haunting. It’s about a child who becomes a woman who can’t run fast enough to recapture the innocence she never knew.

“I’m never going to get that time back,” she said.

She is a woman who, after so many years, still misses her mom and dad.

“I want them to know that I’m still their little girl, and I’m not a whore. I’m more than that,” she said.

What she is – finally – is free.

Link to original and video on Texas Cable News

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