Tyra was the oldest of six in her family.
Her mom was always gone.
Tyra tried to help out by doing the cooking and cleaning up.
She loved her siblings, but they were a lot of work.
She would get up at 5AM, make breakfast and lunches, and then walk them to the bus station.
Tyra sometimes was too tired to go to school after getting them ready.
By the time Tyra was 14, her mom was only coming back a couple of nights a week.
She would give Tyra some money and food stamps, but it was never enough.
Tyra needed to make her own money, or they would go into foster care.
Tyra’s best friend, Jessie, went into foster care and got sent far away.
Tyra heard that Jessie got beat up by the other girls in the house, and then ran away.
Tyra was scared that would happen to her and her siblings too.
Tyra’s friend showed her how to make money by sleeping with guys.
She would just hang out downtown and meet these men in the parks, hotel lobbies, and bars.
No one even noticed. Some were really nice to her. Others were mean and would hit her.
She was arrested when she was 16 and sent to juvie.
When she got out, she had to go live in a group home.
She kept tricking to make sure she had the things she needed.
She hated the life but slowly started to feel it was all she was good at.
When Tyra was 18, she met the cutest guy, Thomas.
He let her move in with him.
He was 27, so he had a car and nice stuff.
He started bringing Tyra to see his friends.
It was nice to be wanted and just to be able to party some.
Pretty soon, Thomas was pressuring her to help him make money.
She had to do it, she told herself.
At first, he let her keep about half of it so she could give money to her siblings.
She would come see them a couple times a week.
Pretty soon, Thomas stopped letting her leave.
He kept all the money. He hit her if she didn’t make enough.
One day, Tyra met a girl named Lina.
Lina said she was was 18, but Tyra didn’t think that was true.
Thomas showed Tyra how to take photos of Lina and post her online.
He said that if Lina didn’t make enough money, then Tyra should hit her.
He also said if Tyra didn’t make enough money, he would hit her.
Tyra made sure they both made money. She watched Lina and threatened her not to tell anyone.
She felt lost. Thomas acted like he liked Lina more than her sometimes.
When the police did a sting operation, Tyra was arrested for sex trafficking of a minor.
Lina was 15.
Tyra was the one with the money and the one who had posted the ads online.
She was the one who had driven the car and the person Lina said had hit her.
Lina got counseling and support because she was a minor.
Tyra was convicted and sentenced to 7 years in prison.
She had to register as a sex offender.
Thomas only got 4 years in jail. He said it was all Tyra’s idea.
Tyra knows now that she meant nothing to him but fast money.
She is hoping to finish school and someday help other girls.