La Grande native and Eastern Oregon University graduate Dawn Schiller spoke about an increasing problem in the nation - modern-day slavery.
Schiller presented about human trafficking, specifically sexual exploitation, in the United States last week. She spoke from a place of personal experience, she said. She was used as a commodity in her teenage years.
"It's known as modern-day slavery," she said at EOU on Thursday. "It's the illegal trade of people for exploitation. Asa society, we haven't been able to identify this as a basic human rights violation because it didn't fit into domestic assault."
She said the reason why this is still a taboo subject is that many people believe the women, children and men who are trafficked have a choice in the matter.
"People don't see this as coercion," she said. "Folks believed the people who were commercially exploited were there because they choose to be."
In Schiller's case, she was in Los Angeles in the 1980s and met pornographic film star John Holmes, who began selling Schiller for sex to pay off his debts, she said. She said she thought she was in love with him. Then he used fear tactics and torture methods, like withholding food, to keep her from running away. She said the ordeal lasted more than five years.
"I was abused, beaten and sexually assaulted," Schiller told the crowd at EOU.
Holmes was arrested then acquitted of being involved with the Wonderland murders in Los Angeles in 1981.