NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Tennessee sex trafficking victim is featured in an upcoming documentary that hopes to expose the truth about the epidemic in America.
The nightmare began at only 9-years-old for Lexie Smith, with a teenage family friend in her Grandmother’s Chicago neighborhood.
“Kind of started out as a normal little friendship,” she explained.
However, she says it soon turned sexual.
“In my mind, I thought of myself as his girlfriend,” said Lexie.
She now realizes she was being groomed.
Lexie says the boy and his friend raped her, filming it and she believes that was used to market her to other men.
“They were very strategic about it and he was obviously involved in some sort of organized crime group.”
She recounts men exchanging money for sex with her on numerous occasions.
“Most of them would come in almost like on their lunch, take off their suit jacket, they had a ring on, some of them were really nice, others were really mean and awful, but for the most part they looked like normal men.”
Fearful of surviving and threatened that they would do the same to her little sister, the then 10-year-old girl did as she was told.
“They were pedophiles and they were looking for a child,” Lexie explains.
She says the abuse went on for a couple of summers until her body started to mature.
“It just ended once I hit puberty, they weren’t interested anymore. I can remember them being so angry and having so much hatred that I grew breast and I couldn’t fill their sexual fantasy anymore.”
The boy and the men essentially disappeared as Lexie went on to struggle from the abuse.
“I struggled with anxiety and depression and anger, I had an eating disorder, I was harming myself,” she explained.
After years of therapy, Lexie found the courage to share her story of hope.
“These people are still out there and that’s probably the hardest part of my story is knowing they are still out there.”
Lexie now has pity for those men and a tattoo on her forearm that serves as a reminder of her forgiveness.
“I have five birds to kind of represent those main 5 people that bought me and it’s, for me, a signal of forgiveness and redemption. For me, justice wouldn’t be them in jail cells, but for me, justice would be them acquiring the same God that I have and their heart would be changed because that’s the only way that I am today and as whole as I am today,” she said.
Lexie’s story is one of six that is shared in an upcoming documentary, Blind Eyes Opened.
“As you listen, you will hear they are all different there is not one way that it happens to a particular person with a particular type of vulnerability. It happens so many different ways and I think it’s important for people not to put a box on that and realize how it happens and how it works,” she explained.
The film intends to expose the darkness that fuels demand, highlights survivors’ transformations and offers hope to end the epidemic.
Blind Eyes Opened is showing for one night only, January 23rd at theaters across the country.
You can report a potential trafficking case using the Tennessee human trafficking tips hotline number at 1-855-55-TNHTH.
The TBI says last year they received 720 tips compared to 323 in 2017.