The extraordinary young woman cut ties with her parents after they wrote the last check for her UC Berkeley undergraduate education. She's now a graduate student there in social welfare and contemplating a doctorate in writing. She's only just getting used to the idea that she can have a bright and beautiful future.
Minh Dang, now 28, watched her appearance on the Katie show with ABC7 News reporter Heather Ishimaru. "My parents began selling me for sex at the age of 10 after years of preparation," she recalled. "My father raped me from the age of three until I left at the age of 20."
Dang somehow thrived academically and athletically in South Bay public schools. Her parents made her sign a contract and threatened her life. At age 11 they took her to a café that was a front for a brothel. "I was taken into the backroom and raped, and heard the negotiations for my sale," she recalled.
"Watching something that reminds me about how every day, I wish that it wasn't true," Dang said. She went public with her story and became an advocate and activist about three years ago, but it's still hard to face her past. "Part of healing and thriving is admitting to myself that it happened, and that I deal with the consequences of that," she said. "I have tons of shame. At some point I believed that this is what I deserved."
Dang hopes telling her story will bring attention to the fact that children are being sold for sex in the bay area. "Maybe it's not directly money, children being sold in exchange for somebody's debt, for drugs, or even their their rent," she explained. Dang has high hopes for making an impact as an activist and simple hopes for her future. "Marry partner who I love, hopefully my current partner of almost 7 years. I would have children," she said.
A big step in building that future came Monday, when Dang signed on as executive director of a non-profit called "Don't Sell Bodies." It was founded by actress Jada Pinkett Smith, who is putting her star power behind this issue.