A victim of sexual trafficking was on campus last week to share her story and raise awareness to the nationwide problem.
Herzig spoke Wednesday at Southern Oregon University as part of a seminar on sexual abuse and human trafficking hosted by Soroptomist International and the Ashland Police department.
Natasha Herzig thought she was pursuing a career in modeling or make-up when a man approched her at a shopping mall nearly 10 years ago.
Though her parents wanted her to go to college, they supported her in this choice to pursue a modeling career.
In the four to five month hiring process, everything about this job and company appeared legitimate. It was at a dinner meeting with her new employer that Herzig began to feel uncomfortable.
She tried to walk away, and was forced into a car at gunpoint.
“My only thought was ‘Please don’t kill me’” Herzig said.
Her captors broke her down mentally and emotionally and she began a life of forced prostitution.
Throughout the year in which Herzig was a prostitute, she witnessed acts of severe brutality, was given an entire new identity and moved around the country to various clients.
Herzig feared for her life and family. She experienced run-ins with government officials and dirty cops.
After Herzig was rescued by police with the help of a potential client, she attempted therapy and moving on with her life by going back to college.
However, after two years, she mentally relapsed, turned to drinking and dropped out of college to get a job in the adult industry.
“I do not regret my journey,” Herzig said. “It made me who I am.”
After she went through her own 12 steps to recovery, she is now happily married with a 2-year-old daughter.
“I want to emphasize how courageous Natasha is,” said Ashland Detective Carrie Hull. “She doesn’t need to stand up here and subject herself and her family to the ridicule.”
Human trafficking in the United States is an increasingly serious issue.
Law enforcement has learned more about it in the last year than ever before. For more information on the subject, visit www.soroptomist.org