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Victim of sexual abuse speaks out to encourage sex trafficking victims to do the same

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KENTWOOD, Mich. - On the same day that convicted West Michigan sex trafficker Eddie Jackson received a 30 year sentence for 'pimping' teen girls from Muskegon to Grand Rapids a victim's advocate is speaking out on the issue.

Carol Veenstra said she suffered in silence for more than 60 years after being sexually abused so she can understand why many victims of sex trafficking remain silent.

"There is a shame and a guilt that really doesn't belong to the one that has been abused," said Veenstra.  "It's deep inside and you know what that does?  That kept my mouth shut for a long long time.   And it's keeping the mouths shut of these girls that don't ask for help and don't tell anyone, so they don't find a way out."

Now, Veenstra has dedicated a good portion of her life to raising awareness about the issue and making sure victims are getting the help they need.

"They will always have scars," she said.  "But they don't always have to be victims.  There is something you and I can all do and talking about it will hopefully bring some shame to those doing the buying (of the girls)."

An event will be held on Saturday, September 20th, at 7pm in downtown Grand Rapids to raise awareness of sex trafficking.

Organizers are calling it the 'Blue Candle Prayer Walk Against Sex Trafficking."

Everyone is invited to meet in the parking lot of LaGrave Christian Reformed Church on 107 LaGrave Ave. and walk to Ah-Nab-Awen Park holding a blue candle that will be provided for participants.

Along the way people will have a chance to see art from four Michigan artists who have created pieces for ArtPrize that deal with the issue of sex trafficking.

For more information on what you can do to help stop sex trafficking visit www.manassehproject.org

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