From the time she was little, Jessa has always been used and abused. Her family was part of a group of people who sexually abused her on a regular basis, and as a child, she was forced to pose for pornography. As she grew up, posing turned into performing, and Jessa was no longer appearing to do sexual acts in front of a camera, she was being raped on camera.
The spiral continued, and the pornography turned into profitable exploitation. By the age of 10, this beautiful young woman was being sold to pimps.
Jessa grew up in Canada, and lived in a suburban neighborhood where she was sexually exploited on a daily basis. Her neighborhood was “normal” and probably looked similar to where you and I live, but Jessa had no idea. She wasn’t ever sent to school, and never had the opportunity to even see her hometown. The closest thing she had to an education was a sixth-grade mathematics textbook that was thrown at her.
“I was trafficked domestically in Canada, just as I was often taken to the USA and other international countries for the sole purpose of being trafficked.”
When Jessa was 21, a woman approached her after recognizing that she displayed signs of an abused or trafficked person. She gave Jessa a slip of paper with her name and contact information before telling her to call for help anytime. That woman owned a safe house in Colorado where she helped to protect and rehabilitate survivors of human trafficking.
Escaping wasn’t something the 21-year-old had ever considered at the time—she simply never realized she had a choice.
“I didn’t know that there was an opportunity to get away,” Crisp said. “Growing up I thought it was a normal existence because it was normal for me.”
After months of building courage and communicating back and forth with the gal in Colorado, Jessa finally left. The woman helped her get to the airport and got her a plane ticket.
“My escape wasn’t a fairytale like a Disney movie; instead it was encapsulated by fear and months of preparing. I was terrified of the unknown, frightened that I would be hunted down by my pimps and abusers, and scared of what the future would hold. But in addition to being afraid, I also felt freedom for the first time. Freedom was being able to see the big blue sky and seeing the tumbleweed float around on the road as I was driven to a safe house and it felt like sunshine that kissed my face.”
Jessa was free, but her visa posed a threat for the future. Being that she was a Canadian citizen, her tourist visa was only valid for six months, forcing her to return to Canada. She re-located to Vancouver, and got plugged into a safe house there, but only for three weeks.
It was 2010, and the Winter Olympics were about to get underway in Vancouver at the exact same time that the safe house she’d entered was being forced to shut down for lack of financial funding.
Jessa had nowhere to turn, but she knew that the Olympics posed a major threat to her safety. Research shows a spike in human trafficking surrounding major sporting events.
For the second time in her life, Jessa was approached by a woman who suspected she’d been abused.
She explained to Jessa that she houses a number of girls who are in the same situation as her.
“She told me that she wanted to be my mom and that she has a lot of houses of girls like me and that she wanted to take care of me,” said Jessa.
The 21-year-old was beyond grateful to have someone in her new city who was offering to care for her the way she’d been cared for in Colorado. But her vulnerability had failed her. The woman told Jessa that she now had to work for her, and so began the all-too-familiar cycle of being sexually exploited for money. Once again, Jessa found herself trapped in slavery.