Victim to advocate

Survivor of human trafficking says the risk of losing her son helped her turn her life around

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Crystal Isle remembers the beginning of the end of her career in the sex trade: cold metal cuffs on her wrists, the knowledge of drugs in her pocket as police searched her, and the look on her young son’s face as he was taken by authorities. Isle says that up until that point, her life included a childhood filled with domestic violence, neglect, sexual abuse, and exploitation, followed by drug abuse and forced prostitution. Isle’s second husband forced her to have sex with other females for money and used her addiction to manipulate her, she said. After finally leaving him, she found herself under the control of pimps, engaging in prostitution “just to survive.” She was raped, assaulted, held hostage, and almost died.

But when her son was taken on the day of her arrest, she knew she could either let him “disappear into the system” or “fight like hell to get him back,” Isle writes in an essay for The Guardian.

“The degree of failure that I felt on that day is indescribable. Up to that point, because of my exploitation and drug use, my life had been a barrage of failures. This time was different, though. This time I not only failed myself, I failed my son as well.”

She chose to fight for him, enrolling in college at 35 and eventually winning custody of her son, whom she says is “flourishing.” Isle now speaks out against human trafficking, fighting for the so-called Nordic Model of dealing with trafficking, which criminalizes the buyer and the pimp while offering support to prostitutes.

“I am one of a handful of victims that has survived to lead a different life,” Isle says. “Now, I am determined to be part of solution: to raise awareness and to agitate for a changes in policy and the law.”

Read the full story in The Guardian.

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