Activists, organizations working to stop sex trafficking

As festival season gets underway in Austin police are warning the public to be on the lookout for suspicious activity that could be linked to sex trafficking.

Activists say the fast growing criminal enterprise shows no signs of stopping and that's why during this legislative session they're fighting to make a difference.

Allison Franklin is a sex trafficking survivor. She says turned to the streets of Houston after dealing with abuse at home which led to her meeting the wrong people.

"I had gang members kidnap me in Houston. Forced me to prostitute, rape me, beat me, all those things," Franklin says.

Once Franklin became an adult, a man came along that she says she thought was there to rescue her.

Franklin says the man "pretended to be my knight in shining armor" and bought her things until "one day I owed him for everything he had given me."

It wasn't too long before Franklin realized the man was using her in the world of sex trafficking.

Sex trafficking is just one of the types of human trafficking. The crime affects adults and kids.

According to the Texas Attorney General's Office there are at least 79,000 Texas children in the sex trafficking enterprise at any given time.

PR Director for The Refuge for DMST Steven Phenix says, "Texas has the second highest number of reported cases of child sex trafficking in the nation."

"There are over 13,000 animal shelters in this country but only 600 beds for these children," Phenix adds.

Phenix works for The Refuge in Bastrop. He says they are the largest facility of their kind in the nation.

At The Refuge, they rehabilitate and help survivors of child sex trafficking start a new life.

It's something that can help victims start fresh which is something police is also on board with.

Austin Police Department Sgt. Kevin Covington says sex trafficking in Austin happens more often than people think. Especially with large amounts of people coming into town, police will have their work cut out for them.

"Any big event you come across is going to be rich for this type of crime because this crime could go on in front of you and you not even realize it," Sgt. Covington says.

Sgt. Covington says the cases he runs across are especially heinous. He says one girl told him once that she was being forced to have sex upwards of 50 times a day.

The aim, Sgt. Covington says, isn't to arrest the victims but to help them.

Franklin now works for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and she's pushing for lawmakers to bring more attention to this crisis.

The message police and activists want to send to the public is that if you see something say something because it takes a community to fight sex trafficking.