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Human trafficking victim shares her story with local students

Chris Caya/WBFO News

A victim of human trafficking shared her experience Thursday with students at Cheektowaga Central High School. Mandy Palmer says four years ago when she was a senior in high school, she would escape reality through social media sites. Palmer says the attention she got online was addicting and she ended up running away from home.

"When I first met Ryan, his personality was exactly the way it was when we had spoken online and we were texting. I felt really safe with him, like I could trust him. I got in his car willingly. There was no use of force or dramatic kidnapping like in the movies. I thought I was making a sound decision, so I went with it," said Palmer

Ryan turned out to be a gun-carrying pimp who forced Palmer into prostitution and threatened her family if she didn't go along.

"Human trafficking is a real and prevalent danger," added Palmer. "If it could happen to me, it could happen to you."

Law enforcement officials also spoke to the students about how to avoid becoming a victim as part of "Human Trafficking Awareness Month."