You wouldn’t think that young American girls raised in normal, healthy families would ever find themselves lured into sex trafficking, but it happens more often than you might think.
Premiering Sept. 26 at the Seattle Aquarium, “Chosen,” is a short film that intended to warn them how easily they can be manipulated.
“Chosen” is produced by Shared Hope International, an anti-sex trafficking organization founded by former Congresswoman Linda Smith.
The film is narrated by Brianna Meyers, a girl who almost became a victim herself. I asked her how this guy named Nick managed to wangle his way into her life, to the point that she was almost sold as a sex slave.
“When I met Nick, I thought I was meeting him for the first time, however I didn’t realize they had identified me a year in advance and were actually setting me up,” says Meyers.
“He told me that I’m too pretty for that small town, that I should come live the life of the rich and famous, that I should come up to Seattle now and start living out my dream of living in Seattle and going to school in Seattle now, why wait, he kept saying.”
Meyers says she didn’t talk to her parents about Nick.
“He would help me create lies to tell. He told me to tell my parents I was going to the mall for the day with my friends,” says Meyers.
She was attracted by a cool older guy’s attention and hid the relationship from her parents because she knew they wouldn’t approve.
“I thought he really wanted to hang out with me. He was a cool older guy,” says Meyers. “He’s a manipulator. These guys, they’re con artists working our children […] all the while I didn’t see the deception and the manipulation.”
After telling a friend about her plans to move to Seattle, Meyers says her friend told his father who got in touch with police and Congresswoman Linda Smith.
“She came out that night because we’re in the same area. She started talking to me and I was so put off by the whole thought that these could be bad guys because they were so kind to me and so nice. I felt like they were the only people on my side and it was like they had me in a trance,” says Meyers.
Smith says it was Christmas week when she got the call from the police about Meyers.
“They had information she was on her way to Phoenix, Arizona. They were bargaining and had sold her in whole. She was going for the New Year’s parties and she looked maybe 13, 14,” says Smith.
They estimate that Meyers’ price was to be around $40,000 to $60,000.
Smith told me a little of how her conversation that night went with Meyers.
“I used the language with her that night of what they would have said, how they would have isolated her, what would have happened with her phone, some other indicators and she kind of turned white,” says Smith.
Smith says the traffickers came looking for Meyers that night at her family home.
“She had told them everything about her at that little restaurant where she worked, not realizing she was being preyed upon,” says Smith.
Meyers had been vetted and groomed by men who saw her waitressing at a local restaurant and picked her out, thinking she’d be marketable.
Because she was worth a lot of money to them, Smith says Meyers had to be kept in a secure place for awhile.
“They would have gotten her,” says Meyers. “That was kind of frightening.”
Meyers says she was completely fooled.
“What freaked me out the most was that this had happened to me and I was 18 years old,” says Meyers. “Come to find out the average age in America of girls being manipulated and drawn into this life is 13 years old.”
Meyers says she’s very happy now to be a part of “Chosen” to help educate others about how these traffickers work.
In hindsight, Meyers says there were many red flags that she didn’t spot.
“That’s what we’re looking for, to educate our youth, so girls like me, or friends like Evan, who saved my life, will know the signs and be able to get out of it before the violence begins.”