For one Central Texas mother, sex trafficking was once something she believed only happened in other countries and definitely not here at home.
That all changed when her own daughter fell victim and ultimately gave her life to protect those she loved.
"She was scared. She wanted to come home. Many times she said she wanted to come home, but she was afraid that they would hurt us. So, she didn't come home. She literally risked her life to save ours," Janiece Charlez, mother of sex trafficking victim Natalie Fisher, said.
Fisher was a student at Temple High School when she fell victim to sex trafficking.
"She started like going out the back door, and you know, she just started sneaking around.. which was not anything that had ever happened before," Charlez added.
Natalie was being trafficked and eventually left home. But, her mother never gave up on getting her back.
"So, I found an ad, I found a phone number, I started tracking her... and I would call her, I would answer her ads," Charlez said.
It was heartbreaking for Charlez to see how much control Natalie's pimp had over her daughter.
"It's so hard to understand how fast and how deep they can get into their psyche. They literally steal them. They steal their being."
Charlez says her daughter was beaten, starved and ultimately murdered on Sept. 23, 2016.
Her death and tragic story are what sparked her mother to start the Now I'm Free Ministry.
"I wanted them to know who she was and what happened to her, and Natalie journaled a lot and at one point she said, "I know my story can help other girls,'" Charlez said.
So, that's exactly what Charlez is doing.
"I want to shake people up and let them know that this could be your daughter. I'm nobody special... and you know, we're not... we were just like your neighbor, and it happened to her," Charlez added.
The Now I'm Free Ministry is partnering with the Bell County Sheriff's Department to host a sex trafficking awareness movie and presentation at the Beltonian Theatre on Sunday night.
Lieutenant Michele Cianci of the Special Crimes Unit will be talking to people about what sex trafficking is, what it looks like, and how we as a community can help combat this ever-growing issue.
"Texas is the second leading state in the nation for human trafficking. The first is California. So, we do have a large increase in this area mainly due to the thoroughfares or corridors within Texas that go from north to south Texas to east to west Texas," Lt. Cianci said.
The free event starts at 6 p.m. on Sunday at the Beltonian Theatre. Anyone and everyone is welcome to attend.
Fifty percent of the concession proceeds will be donated to the Now I'm Free Ministry.
If you would like to donate to or volunteer with the Now I'm Free Ministry, you can do so here.
Natalie Fisher's murder is still under investigation. If you have any information regarding her death, please call the police.
If you or someone you know has fallen victim to sex trafficking, you are encouraged to visit the Now I'm Free Ministry or the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
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