Backpage.com’s adult ad section is the largest online site for child sex trafficking in the U.S. Young girls and boys are regularly bought and sold for sex on the site.
Backpage.com is owned by Village Voice Media, but despite investigative reports and numerous testimonies, Village Voice Media has refused to shut down the adult ads section of Backpage.com, claiming that they can’t control what happens on the site. But who exactly is Village Voice Media? Who stands to profit from Backpage.com?
Village Voice Media is owned by a handful of US companies, including Goldman Sachs (who sold their shares when they were about to be exposed), Alta Communications -- Boston-based firm whose founder William Egan is also the owner of the Boston Celtics, and Brynwood Partners, which also owns famous brands like Balance Bar, Pretzle Flipz, and Turtle.
I would like to share with you a reason that is driving my personal passion to defeat this injustice. At 15 years old, I was drugged and forced into prostitution. While initially I had no idea what was really going on, and no idea where I really was, after some time I came to realize what was going on and I was horrified. I was ashamed, afraid, and lost; I felt like it was my fault because I had accepted the invitation to go “hang out” with these men. I was so angry, but I felt so trapped, that I just wanted to die. I did not understand that I was a vulnerable child that had been taken advantage of; and that is what they wanted. When I was found, I was placed into state custody because I was considered to be so “damaged.” My parents were told that I would never have children. My entire family was destroyed, and I would never know what it meant to attend a high school, a prom, or even go on a simple date with a boy.
These same types of predators who had me figured out are the same types of predators that are using the Village Voice to exploit and change forever the lives of innocent young people today. And, yes, today, right this moment, young girls or boys are being subjected to abuses the same, or worse, than those I endured.
My entire life stopped, and it is only within the last 3 years that I have begun to transition into a place of recovery. I am now a 31 year old woman, with a child of my own. I attend a top-tier women’s university and I am finally picking up the pieces and trying to discover what it means to be “me.” Each day I deal with the scars of the abuse that I suffered over 15 years ago, yes, each and every day. And there is one thing that I do know: I will do anything in my power to stop any young person from enduring anything like the abuses I endured. The pain that I endured and that I carry with me goes beyond words, but I hope that I have been able to say enough on behalf of all of those who have suffered, are suffering, or may suffer, to encourage you to protect them.
Join me in calling on Alta Communication and Brynwood Partners to use their power and money to speak out for victims of sex trafficking and urge Village Voice Media to close the adult ad section of Backpage.com.