"Straight hell." It's the existence of a child prostitute. Girls as young as 10 years old, manipulated by networks of pimps who force them to the streets - often all night - to sell their bodies to men several times their age.
"Branded," a documentary that details the horrors of the Valley's child sex trade, made its premiere Saturday night at Collins College in Tempe to an audience of more than 100.
The film shares the experiences of the girls, pimps and law enforcement agencies ensnared in one of the nation's hotbeds for child prostitution.
The documentary's creators said the objective of the project, which took more than a year to complete, was to raise awareness about the issue. They worked closely with child prostitution rescue groups and the Phoenix Police Department vice squad.
"It's to give these girls a voice," said Peggy Bilsten, former Phoenix city councilwoman and vice mayor, who helped produce the documentary.
The film's title is derived from the way many child prostitutes are marked by their pimps, branding them with tattoos or crude scalding irons to mark them as their property.
Police officials said child prostitution is becoming one of their biggest concerns in the Valley, with hundreds of girls forced to work the streets.
Police couldn't give an estimate of how many child prostitutes are in the Phoenix area. It's difficult, they say, because the Valley is part of circuit in which pimps move girls from Los Angeles to Florida to Las Vegas.
"We are a stop in between," said Phoenix police Lt. Bill Schemers, a vice squad supervisor.
Several former child prostitutes relate their stories in the documentary. They reveal the nature of their lives and how they were drawn into it.
"Pimps sell a dream to these girls," a former child prostitute says in the film.
That's exactly how girls police find in the Valley describe what led them into the sex-for-sale business, Schemers said.
"The pimps are very flashy," he said. "They throw around money and promise them jewelry, nice clothes and a better life."
Many girls begin working the streets before they are teenagers, and police say that prostitutes continue to get younger because that age group generates more money.
Child prostitutes are sometimes runaways or girls with unhappy home lives, police said.
These girls are referred to as "throwaway children" - they have no family that cares for them, and are alone. But police also are seeing many coming from middle-class and sometimes wealthy families.
"It's gotten to the point where there is nothing specific or definite about what girls end up in prostitution," Schemers said.
Pimps, usually men younger than 25, recruit the girls from shopping malls, schools and over the Internet. When drawing girls into the sex trade, pimps make them feel like part of a family.
But then pimps turn on the girls and use threats and physical abuse to enslave them.
"It's so powerful that once they are brought into that environment, there's no getting out," Schemers said.
He said Phoenix takes the lead among Valley police departments on the issue because other departments aren't large enough to support units dedicated to the underage sex trafficking.