Sexual violence survivor makes documentary about sex trafficking in small town Iowa

Local News

Earlier this week, an Erie man was sentenced on charges of sex trafficking in Millcreek. Now, Gridshock, a new documentary, examines the sex trafficking industry in a small city in Iowa.

The film coming from sexual violence survivor Vanessa McNeal.

Gridshock is an investigative documentary that shows the grim reality of sex trafficking.

McNeal says, “I wanted to make this case that if sex trafficking could happen here in good ol’ Iowa, it could happen anywhere in the country, and it is.”

The film takes an inside look from both the buyers perspective and the point of view of the victims who are being trafficked.

In the trailer, it’s said that sex trafficking is “a money generating business. You can sell a human for hundreds, if not thousands, of times. you can only sell drugs a couple of times before they’re gone.”

McNeal says, “the nature and severity of trafficking is horrifying, but what I think is scarier is that people don’t know about it or they believe that it is not happening in their communities.”

With the topic of human trafficking having many misconceptions, the documentary is meant to bring awareness to the subject.

“There is a study done that says the average buyer profile is a 30-50-year-old white man that is married and has kids at home. I think that is pretty alarming. “

McNeal saying that currently, the way we view sex trafficking is the same as society did when the domestic violence movement first started.

Paul Lukach of the Crime Victims Center saying Erie needs to take notice of the movement, especially in light of Erie County first conviction of sex trafficking by 31-year-old Thomas Petoff.

Lukach says, “Erie County is on the hub of a major highway that makes it  all the much more prevalent for people to be moved in and out in sex trafficking scenarios .”

The documentary was shown at Gannon University today. 

To learn more about how you can view the documentary, reach out to the Crime Victims Center at (814) 455-9414.

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