Natalie, protagonist of The Long Night, has shared her experience being a survivor of domestic minor sex trafficking with ABC News’s Nightline in a special report entitled Daughters for Sale: How Young American Girls are Being Sold Online. The report reveals how the website Backpage.com is used to sell underage girls for sex.
I’ve never been to a football game. A high school football game. I’ve never had a prom. I’ve never been to homecoming
Natalie, the central figure in the report, tells the news program how she came to be sold on the site and what the her life became as a result. At only 15 years old, she was controlled by a violent pimp. She was being sold for sex constantly, “all day, everyday,” earning him as much as $4000 a weekend. Natalie estimates she was sold for sex more than 100 times before finally being rescued by a Seattle Vice Squad sting.
“I’ve never been to a football game. A high school football game,” Natalie says of the life that was taken from her. “I’ve never had a prom. I’ve never been to homecoming, and I see all my pictures. All my friends’ pictures on Facebook, and they have all that. They have memories… It makes me a little bitter.”
The program shows viewers exactly how easy it is for users of Backpage to flout rules stating that users must be at least 18 years old. They capture a sting led by the same officer who rescued Natalie designed to lure in men looking to purchase sex from underage girls. Backpage resolutely defends its site and practices. While Congress attempts to take down the site, Backpage battles on.
Natalie’s attorney Erik Bauer says, “Reports of child sex trafficking have increased over the last five years due to the internet. According to the AIM Group, Backpage controls 80 percent of that market… this is a big business.”
Today, Natalie is determined to stop what happened to her from happening to other young girls. She is part of a major lawsuit against Backpage and continues to speak out about the site.
However, in a bright point in the report, we see how far Natalie has come since her darkest days. Heartwarmingly, she is the doting mother of a young daughter with another child on the way. And she remains in close contact with the officer who rescued her, who calls her every year on her birthday.
See 108 Days an excerpt from The Long Night and learn more about Natalie’s harrowing experience with commercial sex exploitation here: