Her pimp "shot seven bullets into my nanny’s car, then called and told me next time it wouldn’t be a car that gets shot." It took Megan Lundstrom a full two years to get out, but she managed to escape him—by aligning with another pimp. Otto paid a "$5,000 choosing fee" to free her from the first pimp's grasp. But the reality was she was still being trafficked. The now-36-year-old Coloradan didn't have it rough from the start. She had a typical childhood, "with fresh-baked cookies awaiting her return from soccer practice or orchestra rehearsal," writes John H. Tucker for Elle. But she became pregnant at 18 and was divorced with two kids by 23, when she joined a website called "SeekingArrangement" to make money to supplement her work as a teacher's assistant.
Tucker outlines the series of events that led her from that site to her first pimp, and then her second, who would send her via plane to the oil boomtown of Williston, North Dakota; she couldn't come back to Vegas unless her $1,000-per-day quota was met. Tucker details how she finally left that pimp too, went home to Greeley, and got a full scholarship to the University of Northern Colorado at 29. There, she met a professor who was curious about Lundstrom's knowledge about sex trafficking and suggested they team up on a study—but how to get data from women who were being trafficked? It wasn't an issue for Lundstrom, who had access via a private Instagram account she had started years earlier to connect with other prostitutes. The result: a forthcoming peer-reviewed article with staggering findings. Among them: 18% of women had buyers who worked in law enforcement. (Read the full story for much more on Lundstrom's path to academia; she now has her master's.)