Owosso woman shares human trafficking experience to help others
They are coerced and manipulated into selling their bodies for money.
We 're talking about people who are drawn into human trafficking.
Jeannie Kennedy of Owosso was 22-years-old when she was lured into the dark world of sex slavery.
"My story took place in 2006 I was a student at Flint Genesee Job corps."
Jeannie Kennedy grew up in Durand. A job training placement program took her to Las Vegas where this small town girl would find herself caught in the big web of human sex trafficking.
"The first day I was there I was approached . This man that approached me he looked presentable. He was dressed nice, in a nice car, had a beautiful woman in his seat so I was comfortable right away."
That man immediately preyed on Jeannie and began grooming her which experts say is the most common way victims are lured into this 32 billion dollar global industry.)
"He's encouraging me and telling me how great I will be and all of these things. We end up at his house where there are eight or nine other women living there and they love him and he loves them, so they think. "
After examining her body, he then took her to a nearby mall, spending $600 on clothes, shoes, and jewelry. These were items she would wear only hours later at a hotel with customers already scheduled to meet with her.
"Of course these were things he wanted me to wear, accessories, heels. He tells me 'now you have to pay back.'"
Amy Rouleau with Restoration Place is on a mission. She educates groups on human trafficking while raising money to build a ranch where victims will one day seek shelter to rebuild their lives.
"We see kidnapping on the news but that's less frequent than what we mostly see which is grooming, boy-friending in, and family members selling their own," says Rouleau.
"So many people aren't educated about what human trafficking is, what it looks like in our communities, what it looks like in our malls, what it looks like in the store. what it looks like at home," says Rouleau.
Kennedy spent three days drugged up and moving from hotel to hotel. On the third day she had her chance to escape while being allowed to take a nap and left alone at a hotel.
"My mom somehow made contact with the job corps and within two hours of the phone call they had somebody at my room to pick me up and take me to the airport," says Kennedy.
Jeannie is now the face of human trafficking. Drivers can see her face on a traveling billboard along expressways.
Now a mother of four and eleven years after her ordeal, she involved with the Shiawwassee Human Trafficking Task Force and says she wants her story to continue to raise awareness.
"I was only there for three days. Not everyone is that lucky. That's just my story. The average life span of a prostitute is seven years."
Michigan ranks second behind only Nevada in human trafficking cases.
But Rouleau believes this has to do with the fact that Michigan is pushing hard in awareness so more cases are being identified, driving case numbers up.
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