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Leah Albright-Byrd, now 29, spent her teenage years trapped in the sex trafficking trade, but the tragic death of a friend has helped her turn her life around and she now help save other victims
A woman who spent her teenage years trapped in the sex trafficking trade has revealed how the tragic death of a friend she helped recruit caused her to turn her life around and find a renewed sense of purpose saving other victims.
Leah Albright-Byrd, now 29, has spent the past 11 years recovering from the harrowing experience and processing the terrible guilt she felt after her friend Bridget Gray was strangled to death by a client in Los Vegas on her 22nd birthday.
Albright-Byrd now runs a charity dedicated to trying to save young girls in the same position and has named her non-profit ‘Bridget’s Dream’ in honor of her dead friend.
‘What I wanted to tell Bridget I now tell other girls to help them get free,’ she recently told Katie Curic.
"'You [the girls] deserve so much more than being sold on the streets.'"
Like many of the young girls who are manipulated into a life of prostitution, Albright-Byrd came from an abusive family background.
At the age of just 14, she ran away from home and while on the streets met a man in his 60s who said she could stay at his home as long as she continued to attend school.
Bridget Gray, right, was found strangled in a Las Vegas hotel room on her 22nd birthday, James Flansburg, left, is currently in prison after being convicted of her murder
But soon after, he insisted that she needed to start contributing to the household and gave her two choices - sell drugs or herself.
‘You are sold a dream and concept that "this is glamorous life," but you’re being accosted by men twice your age and you start to lost confidence, hope and humanity,’ she told Katie Curic.
Albright-Byrd describes being caught in a physiological trap which she felt she couldn’t leave. She even started to recruit other underage girls, including a 14-year-old girl called Brigit Gray.
‘I had no idea what I was helping her get involved in,’ said Albright-Byrd, who spent four years working for a series of pimps in and around Reno, Nevada.
Gray was in foster care and dating Albright-Byrd’s cousin when the girls first meet and Albright-Byrd introduced her to ‘the life.’
Leah Albright-Byrd, center, spent her teenage years working as a prostitute after running away from home at 14 years of age
Albright-Byrd, right, now runs 'Bridget's Dream' a non-profit setup to help other victims of sex trafficking and named after her 'inspiration' Bridget Gray, left
They later went their separate ways, but kept in touch and Albright-Byrd recalls Gray's unsuccessful attempt prostitution behind.
‘Recidivism is high with the girls,’ she toldREJ.com . ‘Most get out and get back in. ...There’s a lot to overcome. You’ve messed up your credit, have no financial literacy, no ID, basic stuff.’
On March 3, 2006, the day of her 22nd birthday, Gray's body was found in a Las Vegas hotel room.
She had been strangled by a client - James Flansburg – who claims she was trying to steal from him. He was convicted of her murder and is serving a 10-to-life sentence.
Albright-Byrd had already left prostitution by then, but the shocking news set her back.
‘I went into the worst grief,’ Albright-Byrd said. ‘I was so angry and I felt responsible.’
Leah Albright-Byrd appeared on a recent episode of Katie Curic's show to talk about her experience of being trapped in the sex trafficking trade
It took years of intensive therapy and medication to help her recover from the trauma of living ‘the life.’
First she found God and then in 2009 she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology and Counseling Psychology from William Jessup University.
She is now executive director and founder of 'Bridget's Dream,' an organization dedicated to helping victims of sex trafficking.
The group provides crisis care and family support in the Sacramento and Reno area and according to Albright-Byrd the most important thing she can do is offer these girls love and not judge their situation.
Christian Pedophile, Christian murders, Christian sex trafficking, Christian drug dealers, wow and the list goes on. What a religion. How come they never mention the religion of this guy?
Great way for her to give back and help others...I wish her luck.
Everyone can change!!! Life different out there !!!! It is easy to fall into that life !!!! me na wear her shoes me na judge !!! Has to be hard enough with losing a friend !!!!
please this hoe should be in prison too .....
Thank God she is alive.
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