MILWAUKEE -- The fight against sex slavery abroad has become a calling for Milwaukee Brewers reliever Blaine Boyer, and a local group battling the epidemic in Milwaukee. Both are trying to save lives.
"When you have young boys and young women that are somewhere in this world right now that are being raped over and over and over, as bad as that is, we come back here to play a baseball game. In my human eyes, there's something wrong with that," Blaine Boyer said.
During the off-season, Boyer and former Major League player Adam LaRoche put their lives on the line when they went underground with cameras in southeast Asia to battle sex slavery.
"Here's a fight going on, and who wants to join it? We can sit on the sidelines and watch from abroad, or we can join it," Boyer said.
"Milwaukee is the national hub for the human trafficking industry," Kenza Hill said.
Hill is a class facilitator for Convergence Resource Center in Milwaukee, which provides support services for victims-turned-survivors of sex slavery.
Their task is daunting.
"This is where people come to learn the trade. This is happening like, every day. All day long," Hill said.
In fact, Dana World-Patterson, chair of Milwaukee's Human Trafficking Task Force has called Milwaukee "the Harvard of pimp school."
Wisconsin is the hub of human trafficking, which has been documented in all 72 counties in the state. There is a great distinction between prostitution and sex slavery.
"One is a 'free will' and the other is you're being forced. You are being held captive and forced to engage in these acts for money that you don't benefit from," Hill said.
That's what happened to 20-year-old Shannon Mayweather, who was a 4.0 student at a local college two years ago when her nightmare began.
"Two young men who were also students sexually assaulted me. I felt a lot of guilt and shame and the college was a smaller college so word got around quickly. I ended up dropping out of school. I wasn't sleeping. I ended up having night terrors, very paranoid," Mayweather said.
That led to an addiction to medication. Before she knew it, Mayweather had gone from an A student in the classroom to homeless on the street.
One day she was in Chicago, and that's where Mayweather met her trafficker.
"He offered to give me a ride home, and I told him I didn't have a home, so he took me back to his home in Brookfield. He let me stay the night, and then he said 'since you have nowhere to go, why don't you just stay here," Mayweather said.
Things were good at first, but then, the trafficker brought friends Mayweather described as notable and wealthy. She performed sex acts, and the trafficker kept all the money. He would give her gifts, and beatings.
"It progressed into more and more violence -- very terrifying things a lot of times. I wondered if I was going to wake up the next morning," Mayweather said.
Mayweather was brainwashed and isolated from other people. Her self-esteems was so low, that she had to be told when to sit down.
A chance phone call led her on a path to Convergence Resources, and a way out.
At first, she resisted.
"We talked and I cried, but part of me was just 'he's not going to do this again. He loves me. Why else would he risk his freedom for me?'" Mayweather said.
Over time, with the help of caring people, Mayweather experienced real love and compassion. She started to regain her value and self-worth, and broke away from her menacing trafficker.
"On my own, I wasn't seeing it. I came here every day and people were genuinely concerned. They even invited a survivor to come and talk to me. She shared her story, and I was identifying a lot with it," Mayweather said.
Today, less than a year later, Mayweather is a survivor. She is going for her degree online, and getting perfect grades. She also speaks with others who have gone down this path of destruction -- offering hope in the midst of her own pain.
"Does it bring back certain memories when I talk about these things? Of course, but just to know that someone has identified something and now they may divert that course of going along with the same kind of man, it means the world to me," Mayweather said.