Bobbi Larson, whose sex-trafficking ordeal was detailed in a four-part series in the Star Tribune last week, has fielded well wishes, offers of help and public speaking requests since her story was published.
Larson, 19, said that, so far, she is encouraged by the feedback from friends, acquaintances and even strangers who sent her messages on Facebook and posted comments on Twitter.
In Two Harbors, Minn., where she lives with an aunt and uncle whom she calls “Mom” and “Dad,” people have said “I’m proud of you, and I hope things get better,” Larson said in a phone interview this week.
Many in the small North Shore town hadn’t known her history until reading the stories, her uncle Scott Larson said. Almost all have been supportive, he said, and complimentary to them and to Minneapolis police Sgt. Grant Snyder, who tracked down Bobbi when she had run away and fell into sex trafficking.
Scott Larson said he felt it was important to share details of what happened to show how quickly and easily teens can get coerced into sex trafficking and how difficult it is to recover.
Speaking out “I think is the only way that we’re going to make an impact on this problem,” he said.
Bobbi Larson said she is exploring how she can take on an advocacy role and will respond to a couple of public speaking requests. A few girls she doesn’t know in the Twin Cities sent her messages through Facebook, she said, saying they’ve been through similar ordeals. She advised them to talk to somebody about it, she said, and told them she was there to listen.
She also told them about Breaking Free, a St. Paul nonprofit that helps women and girls out of sex trafficking.
For now, she said she hopes her story will save other families from trauma and give people a better understanding of how sex trafficking works: “That was my goal in telling my story, is just for all this junk to stop.”
Pam Louwagie • 612-673-7102