T Ortiz, a trafficking survivor who is now an advocate and policy consultant, speaks at an event raising awareness of child sex trafficking victims. A federal audit last year found states often failed to follow a federal law that requires screening foster care children for sex trafficking when they return after going missing.
When she was a 10-year-old foster child, T Ortiz often rode a public bus around the San Francisco Bay area, alone.
She’d frequent a bus stop by a barber shop. Little by little, the barber, who was 15 years older, befriended her, she said — buying her snacks and meals, giving her attention, gaining her trust. It wasn’t too long before he started selling her on the street and taking explicit photos of her to post online.
Ortiz wasn’t a stranger to abuse: She’d first been sex trafficked by her birth mom when she was 5 years old, and she was abused by foster parents throughout her childhood, she recalled.