How One Woman Survived Sex Trafficking

For most of Jessa Dillow Crisp's life, she faced sexual abuse. Her family was a part of a group who sexually abused her as a child, and after growing up in the world of child pornography, she was forced into sex trafficking. Crisp was taken to different cities and countries and sold to friends and pimps, and this is just the beginning of her story. She recently opened up about all of it in an essay and accompanying video for the "Real Women, Real Stories" project for Global Citizen. The "Real Women, Real Stories" project seeks to promote awareness of women who fight their battles and have overcome significant hardship. "Significant hardship" sounds like an understatement for Crisp, who managed to escape the sex trafficking of her youth, only to be tricked back into it during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. While Crisp had entered a safe house in Vancouver after being rescued abroad, it shut down due to lack of funds, and she was once again on her own. "A woman approached me, and the first thing out of her mouth was, 'Oh, I think you've been abused,'" Crisp remembers in a touching video (above). Crisp followed the woman back home where she found she had once again been pulled into human trafficking. "The individuals who held me against my will were defining what was happening, and although I was the one experiencing the pain, they owned my body," she writes in her blog post. Crisp didn't believe that her life could be anything more than the abuse she had already experienced, but after finding herself at a safe house in the US after her second trafficking experience, she heard the words she needed to hear: "If you can read, you can learn anything." Crisp wrote that on her arm in Sharpie every day for over a year. Last May, Crisp was giving a speech as the valedictorian of her graduating class. She graduated with a BA in Clinical Counselling and went on to get married. She's currently pursuing a MA in Clinical Mental Health Counselling, a step towards her goal of obtaining a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology that focuses on trauma recovery. "My past no longer has the power to hold me captive," Crisp concludes in the post. "I am a leader, I am an agent of change, and I am a confident woman who longs to make a difference in society." You can learn more about Crisp on her website, and contribute money to her education here.

More from Mind

R29 Original Series