Havonnah Johnson, News 9
EDMOND, Oklahoma -- Experts say Oklahoma is a hot spot for the newest form of slavery: Human trafficking.
In 2003, the Sooner state ranked fourth in the nation for human trafficking cases. States are no longer rated by incidents, but there's no doubt people are being bought and sold for sex here in our state.
One local business is doing something about it by raising money and awareness. An Edmond pizzeria owner says the taboo crime wasn't in his backyard, but his kitchen. One of his employees was forced into a life of drugs and sex.
During routine day at the restaurant, Matt Heard, the owner of Humble Pie, made a startling and humbling discovery.
"One afternoon we were prepping, cutting up green peppers and I noticed track marks on her arm and I asked, ‘What's up with the track marks?' And she told me basically she had been prostituted."
The 19 year old, who wanted to remain anonymous, tells News 9 she was pimped out by her father.
"My dad started to not be able to afford the stuff he was addicted to, so he started using me to pay for his drugs. [A] certain amount of time equaled certain amounts of whatever it was he was feeling that week. He was just a trash can addict and would use whatever he could get his hands on," she said.
She says he started using her as payment for sex when she was just 3 years old. The abuse lasted nine years.
Debra Forshee of Oklahoma County Youth Service says, unfortunately, the young woman's story is not rare.
"It's a sad but common story. Oklahoma is a major hub for human trafficking because of our three major highways," said Forshee. "These are children and nobody has taken the time to help them realize that this isn't normal."
"I thought that it was normal," said the young woman. "The only reason I freaked out is because it hurt so bad because I was so young."
Because she was raped at 3, she never developed properly and won't ever be able to have children. To silence her screams, her father gave her drugs, which she eventually became addicted to.
Instead of firing the young woman after hearing her story, Heard increased his charitable efforts. For every dollar donated at Humble Pie, the owner displays it on the ceiling and matches it.
Human trafficking is an issue this young survivor says people in Oklahoma should face.
"We lived in the city there where people feet away. It could be in your neighborhood."