ST. JOSEPH -- Two guest speakers shared their harrowing stories about their connections to underground sex trafficking tonight at the College of Saint Benedict.

Edwina Gateley and Brenda Myers-Powell were the featured speakers in "Two Women's Stories: The Long Journey from Drugs and Prostitution to Healing and a New Life", an event which is part of Sex Trafficking Awareness Week.

Gateley says she had a "strong calling" from God to help victims of sex trafficking and has done so for the past 30 years.

"There's another side to the story -- these women have a story," Gateley says. "We haven't heard their story."

Myers-Powell, who spent 25 years as a prostitute, is the subject of the Emmy-nominated documentary film Dreamcatcher and now speaks about her personal experiences and advocates awareness.

She says having the opportunity to inspire other victims of sex trafficking means a lot to her.

"It's my life, it's what I do," Myers-Powell says. "My passion is to help women in human trafficking."

"This is what I live to do."

Both speakers say more awareness has been raised about the world of sex trafficking but Myers-Powell says there is a lot more to be done.

According to the FBI, there are an estimated 300,000 child prostitutes in the United States and the number is growing.

 

Edwina Gateley speaks to the crowd. Photo by Isaac Schweer, WJON