Savannah Gattis disappeared after leaving her home to meet a man promising her a modeling job, and now family members of the Georgia special needs teenager fear she may have been lured into a sex trafficking trap.
Gattis, a 19-year-old student at Heritage High School in Rockdale County, left her home after midnight last Thursday morning. Investigators believe she may have left her home with a man promising her work as a model, but Savannah’s social media activity showed that the pair left for Tennessee and may have been headed toward Pennsylvania.
Friends and family members say they are terrified that someone may have taken advantage of Savannah, who suffers cognitive impairments that give her the mindset of a child.
“She has no money, she has no job,” family friend Heather Frederick told My Fox Atlanta. “She functions on a 5th grade level so her skills are much lower than what you would think of a 19-year-old.”
“Our biggest fear right now is the person she went with has offered her a modeling job. Obviously this day in age, that’s not what’s happening.”
Family members are now terrified that Gattis may have been taken by someone involved in sex trafficking.
The teen has left some vague clues to her whereabouts. Savannah Gattis sent a message to a friend at around noon on Thursday saying she was traveling to Pennsylvania and was going to cut and change the color of her hair.
The possible abduction comes amid a widening spotlight on sex trafficking. The dark and often under-reported world received a spotlight this week thanks to Windie Lazenko, a former stripper who said she was first brought into the dark world at age 13.
Lazenko left home at age 13 and was later bought and sold as a prostitute. She used to perform at remote strip clubs catering to oil field workers in North Dakota, then moved to Montana where she became one of the most outspoken activists against sex trafficking.
Lazenko is now leading an effort to create an emergency shelter for sex trafficking victims and has worked hard to raise attention to the issue. She also works directly with victims to help them escape the grips of the world.
“I speak their language from the get-go,” she said. “I’m not law enforcement. I’m not out there to bust them. They don’t have to play the game with me. They’re going to respect me and I’m going to respect them… I know what it is to be out there.”
In Georgia, family members are worried about what could happen if Savannah Gattis doesn’t return home soon. The teen left without her medication, and without it they say her mental capacity will suffer even more.
[Image via 11Alive]