By Athena Jones, CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sheila White was beginning to feel numb. She had been beaten numerous times by a man who forced her to work as a prostitute on the streets of New York City.
"I done got beaten up in front of the Port Authority in Times Square," she said, a reference to a bus terminal on the city's West Side. "When stuff like that happens out in the open, you really feel like you're not even a person."
White was eventually able to escape her pimp and now works with victims of sex trafficking throughout New York state. But her story is proof that slavery is alive and well in America, 150 years after it was supposedly abolished.
While modern slavery may look different from the old images of plantations, slave cabins and auction blocks, abuse, coercion and manipulation remain the order of the day.
The most valuable weapon in the fight against human trafficking may be you.
CNN is celebrating the work of ordinary people inspired to do something, to take action; to stand up against slavery.
People from West Africa, South America, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, have all joined the fight.
Watch the "Taking a Stand, Making a Difference" show here in three parts. In the first segment, viewers horrified by our expose of working conditions for people cocoa farming in West Africa campaign for more Fair Trade products.