A woman, who helped police break up a human trafficking operation, testified in front of Connecticut lawmakers on Monday.
The woman, who was only identified as Jennifer said she hopes to create awareness and strengthen existing laws.
"I have to accept what happened to grow to move on with my life,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer shared her story to stop young women from being sold for prostitution and drugs.
"I had no idea the day I left with him that I was already his property,” Jennifer said. “I didn't know I was sold to him."
Jennifer was 18 when she moved to Connecticut that's when she met Brian Forbes, who wanted to be her boyfriend. Forbes brought her to an apartment in East Hartford where she learned he already had a girlfriend. Jennifer was locked in a room, shot up with heroin and was forced to have sex with several men.
"We did calls. They would come over and have sex with us and Brian kept ending drugs,” Jennifer said. “And if we didn't want to do it, or put up fight, there was physical abuse."
Jennifer said she ended up in jail before convincing police she was part of a human trafficking ring with leaders Forbes and Dennis Paris who is now serving a 30-year federal sentence. Twelve people were indicted for selling 70 young women for sex.
Connecticut has a human trafficking law. It requires hotels to post signs on the dangers, but there are no penalties.
“We don't want to know it exists,” Rep. Russ Morin (D-Wethersfield) said. “We in suburbia don't want to know it's going on in our neighborhoods.'
Jennifer said she is now clean. She is married with two children and wants to help others.
"If these laws pass and these women will get the strength to step out because they are not going to be looked at as just a whore or drug addict,” Jennifer said.
This bill would impose penalties on hotels that don't post signs warning about human trafficking. It also would require more training, not just for police, but educators and health care professionals.
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