LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Arkansas lawmakers and advocates are holding a 2-day summit focusing on human trafficking in Arkansas.
Senator Missy Irvin and Senator Jason Rapert are leading the first Akansas Human Trafficking Summit.
Tuesday, the summit began at the State Capitol with legislators, and leaders from Not for Sale, PATH, Shared Hope and Polarish Project sharing information and ideas.
"I remember wishing there was a window. There was no window. It was a little half bathroom."
Kathy Bryan of Heber Springs recalls when the nightmare of human trafficking became her reality. At 15 years old, she began a relationship with a man she thought she could trust.
Just weeks later, it became clear something else was on his mind.
"And then the next thing you know, there was this other man that came in. He'd been hiding there. They'd set that whole idea up. And from that point forward for about two hours they raped and sodomized me. And that's what most people in human trafficking call 'my induction'. "
Bryan knows she is one of few victims who actually escape--much less speak out about their past.
"One percent. Only one percent of victims are ever rescued. OR freed. Only one percent!" says Bryan--now proud mother of 3 and grandmother of 6.
In 2011, Arkansas scored an F on the report card for human trafficking prevention and punishment, along with 25 other states. These lawmakers and advocates know it's past time to stop the crime.
Sen. Irvin says Arkansans have a big task in front of us but it's something we MUST change for future generations.
"The fact that bordering states have really dealt with their laws on human trafficking and strengthened them, then those people are going to come to OUR state where it's easier to commit the crime of human trafficking because our laws are so lax... Also, human trafficking is really an episode of crimes. It's not just one crime. There's rape, abuse, there could be torture. There's kidnapping, there's exploitation."
But the perpetrators don't see that victim's pain. They see money.
Nationally, human trafficking is a $32 billion-a-year business.
Bryan says, "It's an enormous issue. But at the same time it's a silent issue. The reason it's silent is just because the crime itself is so...damaging. It's so soul-sucking that the people who are in it don't know that they can even reach for help."
Also on the agenda Tuesday, will be a film showing at First Baptist Church of Little Rock and on Wednesday there will be a coalition building workshop.