‘I was only 12’: Sex trafficking survivor now hopes to help other victims

This story originally appeared in Spanish on Tampa Hoy.

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A woman who was a victim of child sex trafficking starting at age 12 is now on a mission to help save other girls.

Sufiyah Yasmine joined a group of women who are dedicated to recovering missing and exploited girls. Her story is unique. She said it all started when she was just a little girl.

Her brother joined a gang, and because of that, she got sucked into a life she did not sign up for. Gang leaders kept selling her to other gangs, who physically and sexually abused her.

“I was only 12 years old,” Yasmine said. “One gang leader sold me to another. They locked me in a room, and they abused me. I escaped but I was caught by other criminals, who hid me. They tried to sell my body, they tried to force me to recruit other young girls. I would not do it, so the abuse got worse.”

She said the gang abuse continued until she was 17 years old, when she managed to get free from her captors.

Now she is part of the Selah Freedom Team, which is a national organization based in Sarasota. The group has already helped more than 6,800 human trafficking survivors.

Her story is not uncommon.

According to the Florida Department of Education, about 300,000 children are at risk of being sexually exploited starting at the ages between 11 and 13.

Yasmine said anyone who needs help or knows someone who needs help should contact Selah Freedom, by visiting their website.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WFLA.