'Something Needs to Change': Survivor Says Oakland Police Scandal Shines Light on Sex Trafficking | NBC Bay Area
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'Something Needs to Change': Survivor Says Oakland Police Scandal Shines Light on Sex Trafficking

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    A 24-year-old sex-trafficking survivor says the Oakland Police Department scandal is shining a light on a problem that is bigger than most think. Jodi Hernandez reports. (Published Wednesday, June 22, 2016)

    A 24-year-old sex-trafficking survivor says the Oakland Police Department scandal is shining a light on a problem that is bigger than most think.

    The survivor was just 15 years old when she found herself being victimized on the streets of Oakland by men who didn't care about her age.

    "Sometimes things happen and you find yourself in a situation where you have to do things you never would have done or would have wanted to do," she said.

    The scandal involving Celeste Guap, a teenage girl who says she has had sex with more than a dozen Oakland police officers, hits close to home.

    While the Oakland survivor was not sexually victimized by officers, she now counsels other young girls who have been.

    "I work with a lot of girls now who have said police have attempted to have sex with them," she said. "So I know it's real and it's happening."

    Vanessa Russel, who runs a nonprofit that helps survivors, said the OPD scandal has exposed just how big a problem sex trafficking is in the East Bay.

    "Until we start to care about seeing that young lady, not that prostitute on the side of the road, nothing is going to change," Russel said.

    The survivor said she still lives with the trauma of her past and hopes the young woman at the center of the scandal gets the supports she needs. She also would like to see the community and the police department wake up.

    "For it to be public, it's letting the world know something needs to change," she said. "This is something that's happening that's not OK, and we need to fix it."

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