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Main story: Human trafficking in the heartland: Hidden labor, sex trade alive in Midwest

Two human trafficking survivors — both their names have been changed to protect their privacy — told Center reporter Julie Strupp their stories on camera. Both met their traffickers on State Street, blocks from the state Capitol. Below are excerpts from those interviews. They were held at Project Respect, a Madison nonprofit that helps sex workers, in mid-2011.

Both women said they were sharing their stories not for sympathy, but to deglamorize prostitution and sex trafficking, and to give a fuller perspective to the public. The two are now using their experiences to help other women in the sex trade.

Warning: The videos below contain descriptions of violence and explicit language that could offend some viewers or be inappropriate for children.

Survivor: ‘Kelsey’

Kelsey left Madison at 17, then was picked up by a man who raped her and pimped her.

Survivor: ‘Laura’

Laura met a man on Madison’s State Street who ended up beating her and selling her for sex.

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism ( collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

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Kate Golden, multimedia director and reporter, specializes in environmental stories and data visualizations.