From life on the streets to time in schools

TUCSON, Ariz. - "You can't put a price tag on a person," that's what Lisa Hansen preaches.

Her story begins in Tucson. At just four-years-old, she became a victim of sexual abuse. Ten years later, she ran away from home for the very first time, terrified her parents would find out and reject her.

"If they knew what I believed about myself as a result of sexual abuse, just the disgusting person that I thought that I was, they wouldn't love me anymore," Hansen said. "So it just was a survival mode of I've gotta get out of here before I'm figured out."

The first time, she didn't go far. She ran to her then-boyfriend's house in town and only stayed for about three weeks. Her father came and convinced her to leave and come back home. She took some time to get her life back together but soon was doing well in school again.

But three years later, when she was 17, she ran again. This time, she went much farther -- to Kansas -- down a much darker road.

"I didn't have a place to live when I got there, so that's why I ended up on the streets," she said. "I'd be standing outside of bars, hoping that somebody would pick me up. I was dancing in strip clubs, hoping that somebody would take me home."

"I did not plan on living past 21, I figured something was going to happen at some point and I was just going to die."

Years passed, and Hansen eventually had kids. Thanks to them, she found a new path, one where she learned the value of love, and the value of a human being.

"What I see in each individual kid," Hansen said. "Is a kid that has more value and more worth than they believe they have in themselves."

Ever since then, she's made it her mission to engage kids and teach them their value, and how to protect them from predators.

"Kid after kid is now suffering from what's They hope sextortion," she said.

This is a new branch of sex trafficking, now in the digital age, according to Hansen. How it works: predators meet kids online, they make them feel accepted and "liked," in the means of building trust. They soon gain the trust and have "online sex."

"A lot of them are sending completely nude or very sexually explicit images of themselves," she said. "It is to show love, or it is to get approval, or to get attention. It's to get into a relationship."

Often times, kids fall into these traps because they've never met the person they're having "online sex," with in person. Other times, they've met before, and they become a victim of "sextortion."

"It was never a real, 'I'm interested in you because you're an important person,'" she said. "It's, 'I'm interested in you because you have something that I want.'"

"The most important component, to me, is teaching a kid what a healthy relationship looks like."

This is where her father, Jerry Peyton, comes back into the fold. He works alongside his daughter at Sold No More, an organization created to teach people about the dangers of human sex trafficking, both in the physical and digital senses.

They go into Southern Arizona schools and give presentations about the topic, in the hopes that the students have an understanding that this is going on in their world, and giving them the tools they need to protect themselves. Often, they're greeted with uneasiness.

"[They say], 'you're bringing someone into your school to talk about what? Sexual abuse and the sale of kids? We don't sell kids for sex in America, I mean, that's Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia. Where are kids being sold for sex in America?'" Peyton said.

Many people don't want to hear the answer, according to Peyton. He explained it is happening all over the country, both in person and online.

Peyton and Hansen agree there is no easy solution to this problem, and they believe it will take a strong effort from many different corners of society.

"I can't think of a segment of our society that could not be involved in stopping the sexual exploitation of our children," Peyton said.

Their hope is that students will leave their presentations armed with self-defense tools, and a new perspective on their own self-worth, and the value of their peers.

"Why wasn't I worth just saying, 'hey you know what kiddo, I'm concerned about you, and I'm going to give you a safe place to stay free of charge,'" Hansen said. "That person, that individual, is priceless. You can't put a price tag on a person."


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