Human trafficking does happen in Connecticut and a victim is becoming one of the strongest voices on the issue.
A young woman named Jennifer was sold for sex.
“I was easily manipulated,” the victim who was only identified as Jennifer.
Jennifer said she was 18 years old when her life became a nightmare. It started when she left her hometown in Vermont to live in Connecticut.
“I had a family member down there, who I trusted, who said they were going to protect me,” Jennifer said.
She had a rough home life and was looking for a change. But, nothing would ever prepare her for what was about to happen.
Her aunt introduced her to a man named Brian Forbes, who said he could give her a job in his salon, he seemed like a nice guy until she got to his East Hartford apartment.
It was at that East Hartford apartment where Jennifer met a woman named Tony, who claimed to be Brain’s girlfriend. Jennifer quickly realized there was no job. Then, she found herself locked inside a bedroom and she was shot up with heroin.
“It pretty much felt like there was no way out,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer told Eyewitness News she didn’t know that she had been sold by her aunt to Forbes, who then sold Jennifer to other men.
“They were random guys off the street. They were his club buddies,” Jennifer said. “You would have to do whatever they wanted. Whatever it was. If you didn’t, you didn’t get heroin.”
The addiction was powerful and withdrawal was worse.
“The pain is just incredible when you don’t have it and then you are forced to still let these people have sex with you or you have to do disgusting things to them to make them satisfied,” Jennifer said.
The next few months were hell, according to Jennifer. She said she was brought to homes of wealthy men and different hotels. Some of them were on the Berlin Turnpike where men were waiting and Jennifer said she felt trapped.
“Life was over. How was I going to get out of this? Who can I call to help me? There were things I could have done,” Jennifer said. “But they had me so messed up in my head. I didn’t know what was left or right.”
“These traffickers know how to mentally manipulate these girls,” Deb Scates, who is a former Hartford detective, said. “They know how to do it for each girl- they know how to read them.”
Scates was a detective in Hartford when she met Jennifer. They had an incredible bond. Eyewitness News brought them together for the first time since all of this happened to share their stories.
“Debbie was there for me the whole time if I needed her she was there,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer said she finally had someone who wanted to help her. She testified at the first human trafficking trial in the United States. It was in Hartford.
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