A Kingston native, who now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, founded a non-profit organization that works to prevent sex trafficking through education. The issue hits home to 25-year-old Jillian Mourning, who was raped by her modeling manager when she was just 19 years old.
"He and a couple other men raped me in a hotel room one night, and they video taped it," she said, "and then they used the video tapes and photographs to blackmail me to continue to get me to do that for five months before he was sentenced to prison."
From May through October of 2007, Mourning said she kept secret that she was being beaten, burned with cigarettes, and forced to sleep with men while pursuing her career in fear of what else might happen.
Mourning would later graduate from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with degrees in International Studies and German. Her thesis focused on human trafficking and sex slavery.
In fact, while Mourning initially vowed to never share her tragic experience with the public, she said her educational background and personal healing helped form a passion that would lead to the creation of the non-profit "All We Want Is Love" in 2012. Mourning said "All We Want Is Love" aims to bring awareness to the issue, especially the fact that sex trafficking is not foreign to the United States and is commonly an "underground" operation.
"While it's out there on the Internet for people to find, it's not as much on the street corner like people would think of in their heads, so it's happening in hotels, (and) it's happening a lot of times in the back of trucks," said Mourning.
The efforts of "All We Want Is Love" have recently gained national recognition: Mourning is one of 5 finalists for VH1's Do Something Award, in which the winner will get a $100,000 grant for his/her nonprofit.
The recipient will be chosen based on the number of votes received by the public and announced on VH1 at 8pm on July 31st.
To vote for Mourning, text JILLIAN to 38383, or to learn more about her non-profit, log onto www.allwewantislove.org.
(Photo Credit: Joe Odell/Joseph Bradley Photography.)