NEW YORK -- According to a United Nations report, sex trafficking has become a $99-billion-a-year industry -- a figure that has more than tripled in the last seven years.
Kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart spoke about the trade at the UN yesterday and afterwards sat down with CBS News.
"They're kidnapped, they're stolen," Smart said of sex trafficking victims in an interview with CBS News. "Many times they are given drugs, many times they are manipulated through threats, just, I mean, like me. I was manipulated through threats, threats to my life and my family."
Twelve years ago, when she was 14 years old, smart was abducted, raped and held in captivity for nine months. She now crisscrosses the country, speaking and talking to victims about her experience.
She's turning her ordeal into a powerful weapon against an exploding criminal enterprise -- human trafficking.
"I often look back to the nightmare of my own kidnapping, to the very night that I was taken at knifepoint from my bed," Smart told the UN.
Training with Navy SEALs to help with rescues, Smart is merging her own foundation with Operation Underground Railroad.
That group sets up stings with local law enforcement to free children, like a recent mission in Colombia that rescued 29 kids under the age of 18.
Many trafficking victims are orphaned by war and natural disaster, or lured with the promise of modeling and film jobs.
"There are so many feelings of worthlessness, of being devalued, of wondering if life will even be worth continuing to live and if you do survive, will people accept you back," Smart said.
Now age 26, Smart says she's conquered that fear of acceptance. While she still has flashbacks when she talks to victims, she feels sharing her story is liberating.