A Canadian woman who was sold as a sex slave by her own family when she was a little girl has revealed how she finally escaped at age 21 with the help of a stranger who spotted the ‘red flags’ of her abuse.
Jessa Dillow Crisp, now 34, from Toronto, Canada, was molested by family members from a young age.
By the time she was elementary-school-aged, she says that they were letting child pornographers take photos of her and forcing her to have sex with strangers in exchange for money.
She wasn’t even allowed to go to school – instead, she had to work as a hotel maid during the day and was sex trafficked at night.
After years of abuse, she met a woman in Kansas City, who realized that she needed help and slipped her her phone number – ultimately saving her life.
A woman who was sold as a sex slave by her own family when she was a little girl has revealed how she escaped at age 21 with the help of a stranger who spotted the ‘red flags’ of her abuse
Jessa Dillow Crisp (pictured in 2021), now 34, from Toronto, Canada, was molested by her family members from a young age
By the time she was elementary-school-aged, they were letting child pornographers take photos of her and forcing her to have sex with strangers in exchange for money
‘I always wanted to [go to school],’ she told People Magazine during a recent interview.
‘Looking outside my bedroom window, there was an elementary school there. So, whenever I stood at my window, I could always see the school and always see these kids playing.
‘I have been taught that little girls don’t go to school. That their only purpose in life is to be used for sex.
‘I like to tell people that you need to keep your eyes open because a lot of people who are being trafficked and exploited don’t look like the people that media shows. I wasn’t able to escape.’
When Jessa was 21, she met the woman (whose identity is unknown) at a hotel – and she quickly noticed that something was wrong, and helped her escape.
‘She saw the red flags of one who was being trafficked,’ Jessa recalled. ‘She gave me her phone number and told me to memorize it.’
After years of abuse, she met a woman in Kansas City, who realized that she needed help and slipped her her phone number – ultimately saving her life
She met the woman at a hotel when she was 21, and she quickly noticed that something was wrong and helped her escape
She also told Global Citizen in 2017, ‘The first time I called, I was under a mountainous pile of blankets hardly daring to breathe in case someone or worse yet, my pimp, would hear me.
‘That first phone call was only a few minutes long, but during that hushed conversation, this lady began to speak truth into my life and speak truth to some of the negative messages I had received growing up.
‘She told me that my value was not a dollar figure related to sex and she explained to me that my future did not have to be built upon the trauma that had happened to me.’
With the help of the woman, Jessa was able to flee to a safe house in Colorado.
‘My escape wasn’t a fairytale like a Disney movie; instead it was encapsulated by fear and months of preparing,’ she continued.
‘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.
With the help of the woman (whose identity is unknown), Jessa was able to flee to a safe house in Colorado. She lived there for a while, but when her Visa expired, she went back to Canada
But unfortunately, the trauma didn’t end there for Jessa. After settling down in Vancouver, she met a woman during a church breakfast event who had her gang raped
‘Slowly like a flower beginning to open up her petals to the sunlight, I began to slowly soften to the people around me and I began to let love in.’
She lived there for a while, but when her Visa expired, she was forced to go back to Canada.
She decided to move to Vancouver – as far away from her family as possible.
But unfortunately, the trauma didn’t end there for Jessa. After settling down in Vancouver, she met a woman during a church breakfast event, and they had an instant connection based off of their pasts.
Jessa explained to People: ‘The first question out of her mouth was, “Have you been abused?”
‘She then went on to say that she had been abused, and she could just tell on my face that I had been abused and that I had experienced a lot of trauma. And so I began to tell her my story.”
They soon became close friends, and the woman even said she wanted to be Jessa’s mom.
‘She began to tell me that she loved me,’ Jessa added. ‘She wanted to be my mom.’
One night she invited her back to her apartment to watch hockey.
Thankfully, Jessa was able to escape once again, and she went back to the Colorado safe house. She was then adopted by a couple (pictured) who were on the board of the safe house
She officially moved back to America on April 16, 2010. She then got her GED and enrolled in college. She graduated in 2017 with a 4.0 GPA
She got married to a guy named John – whom she met in college – in June 2015. They went on to start an organization called BridgeHope together – an anti-trafficking nonprofit organization
But according to Jessa, the woman had her gang raped by a group of guys who were waiting inside.
‘She stood in front of the door when we got inside and she said, “My name is not the name you know me by,”‘ said Jessa.
‘And in her bedroom she had me gang raped. The gang rape was the breaking process. She had groomed me up until that point. But she broke me.’
She added to Global Citizen, ‘I hated the fact that the abuse and trafficking I suffered growing up made me so vulnerable to more abuse and pain.
‘I hated the fact that I trusted someone to help me when I was all alone in a new city. I hated the ways that I longed for safety and for someone to care.’
Thankfully, Jessa was able to escape once again, and she went back to the Colorado safe house. Some of the people there then helped her get a new Visa in April 2010.
She then got her GED and enrolled in college. She graduated in May 2016 with a BA in Clinical Counseling and a 4.0 GPA.
She was later adopted by a couple who were on the board of her safe house. She got married to a guy named John – whom she met in college – in June 2015.
In 2017, she and her husband co-founded an organization called BridgeHope – a gender-inclusive, anti-trafficking nonprofit that helps boys and trans children who are being trafficked.
‘Although I have seen things that no one should ever see and I have experienced things that no one should ever experience, my beginnings do not define me,’ she concluded to Global Citizen.
‘I refuse to let the evil of my past win. Instead, my pain has a purpose now.’