CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - A former sex slave is "one million percent" sure human trafficking will occur during the NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte.
Police acknowledge forced prostitution is "going to be an issue" with the influx of people coming to the Queen City. Joy Anderson, 32, knows firsthand the horrors of sex trafficking.
"It's money to them," said Anderson. "We're money."
Anderson became a victim when she was 17 years old. A runaway, she was lured into the world by a friend with the promise of money, protection and a place to live. She spent eight years as a sex slave, bouncing between abusive pimps, with no way way out.
"He threatened to kill me and my family," said Anderson, of a pimp, who she had to call "daddy." "I was scared to death. I was so scared."
Untl the day she was rescued during an FBI sting.
"I just broke down completely," she said.
FOX 46 has previously reported that Charlotte is the number one spot in North Carolina when it comes to human trafficking.
CMPD works with the federal government to combat sex trafficking. Since 2015, police have investgated nearly 60 cases. Last year, 126 human trafficking cases were reported statewide, according to the National Trafficking Hotline, making North Carolina the eleventh highest state for reported calls.
Standing inside a church, Anderson says she is alive thanks to her faith. Now, she's speakng out to share the warning signs of human trafficking.
Anderson says she is "one million percent" sure that sex trafficking will take place during the NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte.
"It's already happening," she said. "It happens 24/7 in every hotel. And I know that for a fact."
Among the things to look out for:
- Lacking personal posessions like a purse or wallet.
- Avoiding eye contact or social interactions.
- Signs of physical injuries or abuse.
- Scripted or rehearsed responses.
Anderson said she was forced to prostitute during previous All-Star games and other big sporting events.
"I've been to The Masters [which] is huge in Augusta, Ga., All-Star Weekends, NBA games, everything," she said. "You know, big football games, big, any big events. I know there's trafficking going on because I was at all of them."
She was moved all over the country including the Queen City where she lives now. Anderson says pimps booked hotels room for big events "months" in advance. She and other women were advertised on Backpage, a website that has since been shut down. Now, she says pimps have found different websites and other ways to sell women.
"They said, 'We're going to Charlotte. That's where the money's at,'" she recalled being told by her pimp.
She has a message to victims who are still trapped.
"There's a way out," said Anderson, in tears. "They deserve to be out. And they can get out."
If you suspect human trafficking, call 911, police, or the National Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888.