How much would you pay for a piece of a person's humanity?
"No little girl wakes up and says, Oh I think I'll grow up and become a prostitute," said one-time sex trafficking victim Louise Allison.
How far can a soul bend before it breaks?
"I knew I would rather die than live like that. It's a bad place to be," Allison said.
Those questions defined Allison's existence from the age of 14. She was locked into a life without love, deprived of dignity, a slave to the streets.
"It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't lived it how, how scared and shame-filled a person is when they're actually living the life," she said.
After 25 years of trying to forget, she's now stepping out from the shadows of shame to change the fates of others caught in the human trafficking trap.
"If there is anyway one life could be changed. One life can be saved by me getting out and talking about the horrors that happened to me, at that time. I'm willing to do it," she said.
"Many of these girls are runaways and they have no place to go. They are befriended by someone they know who they think is their friend. The next thing you know they are being sold," said Doug Chenault during an opening ceremony for his and Louise's new organization.
Chenault and Allison have formed the Partners Against Trafficking Humans (PATH) Initiative to rehabilitate rescued victims. During an unveiling ceremony on November 3, 2011, Louise Allison publicly revealed her past horrors for the first time.
"I was a living example of what happens to young girls who play grown up," she told a room full of about 100 strangers.
According to the FBI, more than 300,000 children have been sold by sex traffickers in the United States. In the global trade, one in four sex slaves are Americans who simply vanished. And each year 13,000 new victims are snatched up and sold for sex.
Many of us would like to believe these are stories and stats happening somewhere else like in New York or Los Angeles. But the truth is, for many of us our daily commute runs right through a major trafficking corridor.
"Some of these kids end up like that," he said driving through downtown neighborhoods.
Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay is familiar with human trafficking in Central Arkansas, dating back to his first VICE squad sting in the 1980s.
"The first prostitution that I arrested was a 17-year-old runaway from Hot Springs," he said.
It's a pattern that's continued to modern day slaves soliciting undercover officers.
"No one deserves to be bought and sold in this fashion, in any fashion," Holladay added.
"He told me this is what I'd be doing," a woman arrested during a Pulaski County Sheriff's Office prostitution sting told Dharma Eye Media documentary maker Marise Nazzaro in September 2011.
The woman, who we will call Beth, believed she was coming to Little Rock for a job training seminar.
"I told my friend, who I met online that I needed money," Beth said. "He told me that he could get me trained to work from a home office so I could be at home with my son."
The man gave her $60.00 in gas money to drive down to Little Rock. When she arrived, he forced her to turn her first trick to pay him back.
"I never thought he could do something like this," she said as she cried.
The second night she was in Little Rock, he forced her to go out again to sell herself. That's when she was busted by Pulaski County Sheriff's officers in a prostitution sting.
"The only way he said I could go home is if I did this. It's the only way I could get the money to go home," she said.
Like many victims of trafficking "Beth" had a family history that made her vulnerable.
"My parents divorced when I was about two, and my uncle started molesting me when I was three. It went on for about 10 years," she said. "When I met him (the trafficker) online, he listened, he was understanding."
A majority of victims are runaways, missing persons, or people who are vulnerable -- looking for love and security from someone who offers them that in their life.
"They are befriended by these individuals, and then they are brought into a world where they are bought and sold and told what to do," Doug Chenault explained.
"It's hard to explain to someone who isn't living that life," Louise Allison added. "Do I think people want to be bought and sold? Absolutely not. I think they get trapped. They get lured in and then they are convinced this is the life they have to lead."
Arkansas serves as a human trade hotspot because of Interstate 40, which spans the United States. Particularly between Little Rock and Memphis, law enforcement see a lot of traffickers use the freeway as a funnel for the trade.
"So, a van next to you could be carrying someone who's been bought and sold against their will?" we asked Louise Allison.
"Vans, trucks, anyway to transport a victim, yes," she said. "Anywhere there's a lot of traffic, either automobiles or just foot traffic too. It can happen at airports and at malls, places where big groups of people end up in the same place."
Interstate 40 offers countless truck stops for selling what's known as commercial companion services.
Journalist Dorothy Cox, with The Trucker Newspaper, has been investigating the truck stop sex trade and trafficking's role in Arkansas. She's found it happens more than we might like to imagine.
"You can only sell a drug once, but you can sell a human being over, and over, and over," she said.
With the shocking realities of what these victims endure, it's hard to believe there's not a facility in the state offering a real refuge for those rescued from the clutches of crime.
"They are brutalized. They're held against their will and they are used to make money," Cox said.
"We have a lot of places that offer counseling services and social services," Chenault said. "But we don't have any real place that offers medical services, social services, and a place to stay and get them back on their feet all in one place."
In the United States there are only about 1,000 beds available for sex trafficking victims which number in the tens of thousands. Without a safe place off the streets, many will return to what they know.
"You can't just bring somebody in off the street who has been beaten into submission and expect them to be able to walk out in two weeks and be back to having a normal life," Chenault said.
"If these girls are rescued from this life, but it's all they've known for years, then if they don't have a place to go they'll return to that life," Allison said.
"My clothes were dirty. I felt and looked like trash," Allison said of a memory she had of living life on the streets. "That's what I felt like I was worth. That's what I felt like was my life."
The bruises may fade, the broken bones will mend. But without therapy the scars on these suffering souls can be much harder to heal.
"I don't want anybody to have to spend 25 years, like I did, hiding behind the shame of what happened when I was too young to know any better," Allison said of her mission to create the PATH Initiative.
"We need people with time and big hearts," Doug Chenault said. "We need people with resources, and I mean money, and those who have training in counseling, law enforcement, and the medical fields. Basically, if you want to help, please contact us, because we really do want to partner with as many people in the community to make this place a reality for these rescued victims.
In the end, those like Louise and Doug are simply trying to help victims who escape from this dark underworld driven by greed, where hope and dignity are always for sale.
To learn more about the PATH Initiative and how you can help, click here. You can contact Louise and Doug through the website if you'd like to become involved in the PATH Initiative.
The Truckers Against Human Trafficking Organization has partnered with PATH in the effort to fight trafficking in Arkansas. They have put together some helpful tips on recognizing trafficking victims in your community.