EUGENE Ore. -- A survivor of human trafficking shared her story Wednesday, May 23, at a panel hosted by the Emerging Leaders of United Way Lane County so that others could know the signs and avoid the nightmare she lived through.
Mckenzie didn't want to give her last name but says she lived as a victim of sex trafficking in Lane County for two years. Speaking at the event, she described how hard it is to get out of the lifestyle.
"A lot of people fall back on it because it's all they know, and so that's what breaks my heart," said Mckenzie. "Girls just go back to the abuse because they are so used it. You shouldn't have to go through so much to where abuse is what you want."
A special agent with the FBI told the group traffickers will utilize the I-5 corridor to find victims and Eugene's homeless youth population is at an extreme risk. For eight years Hope Ranch has been helping resources to victims in Lane County, including a place to live. Diana Janz, the nonprofit's founder, says they work five to ten different cases at any given time.
"Sometimes I wake at night because I can't sleep because of what's going on here," explained Diana Janz of Hope Ranch. "But we can make a difference, and the key is we all need to be educated, we need to be aware, but awareness without doing something is just apathy."
Over 20 people attended the panel.