Updated: 11/19/2013 7:33 AM
Created: 11/18/2013 4:55 PM KSTP.com
By: Todd Wilson
A hidden crime is growing in Minnesota. The FBI ranks Minnesota in the top 13 states for sex trafficking of minors. So why is this illicit business rampant here? Jeff Bauer of the Twin Cities based family Partnership Organization says, it's geography.
In 2011, the Minnesota State Court Administrator's Office reported 614 trafficking related charges and 390 trafficking related convictions.
It happens in cities from Minneapolis and St. Paul to Mankato and up to Duluth.
Joy Friedman says as a teenager she was forced into sex trafficking. "I was taken at the age of 15 by a pimp and two of his friends, and held captive in the basement and raped repeatedly," she said.
Friedman says for the next 22 years she lived every woman's nightmare, from here to Canada.
"I've been beaten by 2x4's, metal pipes, baseball bats, gasoline thrown on me, surrounded by 15 guys and left for dead," said Friedman.
The FBI ranks Minnesota in the top 13 states for sex trafficking of minors. So why is this illicit business rampant here? Jeff Bauer of Twin Cities based family Partnership Organization says it is geography.
"We've got the 94 corridor running up east to west through our state. You've got the 35 corridor running north and south through our state and so a lot of traffic comes through here," said Bauer.
Bauer says the traffickers are on a Midwest loop. The circuit is from Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee to Minneapolis, and since the oil boom, North Dakota.
Bauer's organization, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office and the Ambassador for the State Department's Anti-Human Trafficking Office were at The Women's Foundation of Minnesota Conference at the Minnesota History Museum to break down barriers to work together.
"The first step is to recognize that these are victims, they need help. And I think that's one of the things that's going to make this fight successful," Ambassador Luis CdeBaca said.
Friedman says by the grace of God she was able to break free. She wants other women to know there is a life beyond all that pain.
"I've regained everything, my family, my self respect, my self worth," she said.
Click here to learn more about the growing problem of sex trafficking in Minnesota.