Imagine being told at sixteen years old that all you will ever amount to in life is to be a prostitute. Imagine that the person who told you this is the only person in your life whom you feel you can trust, and not only does he tell you this over and over until it becomes your inner manta, but all the struggles you have faced in your young life — being in and out of the foster care system, surviving early childhood abuse, having an undiagnosed learning disability which makes excelling in education very challenging, among many other adversities — lead you to believe this lie. Though up to this point, you have never had a stable, secure home life, you now find yourself surrounded by crime and violence, both as a witness and as a victim, until violence becomes extraordinarily… Normal?
Unfortunately, this scenario is fairly common for survivors of human trafficking, and often, this tragedy can result in ruining the lives of many, not just the survivor herself. This is what happened to Cyntonia Brown. As you may have recently seen in the media, Cyntonia Brown, a survivor in Tennessee, had been convicted of murdering a sex buyer, was tried as an adult due to the severity of the crime, and was originally sentenced to 51 years in prison. This Monday marked a victory for Ms. Brown when the governor of Tennessee granted her clemency. She will be released on parole this August.
While it may be difficult to empathize with any perpetrator of a violent crime, our survivor advocate community sees Ms. Brown first and foremost as a victim of lifelong abuse which climaxed when she was sold into sexual slavery in her teen years. We are committed to restoring, rehabilitating, and empowering survivors, and often their pasts echo Ms. Brown’s. Though we will never condone violence as the answer to their problems, it is difficult for us to vilify Cyntonia when we see first hand the pain and suffering that many women like her face. It is horrifying to watch victims of crimes become perpetrators of crimes and make decisions that cause permanent damage. We are praying this doesn’t happen again.
No one can undo what Ms. Brown has done by any means. What we can do is continue to serve the survivor community with our unique variety of services at Alabaster Jar Project, providing all sexual exploitation survivors with options to sustainable and independent lifestyles in the hopes of having less cases like Ms. Brown’s which result in violence and more victories that end in triumph and empowerment. What YOU can do is become a part of our mission by continuing to support us, so please stay tuned by following this blog and our facebook page for many upcoming opportunities to help the survivors of your community. Thank you for your prayers and support.
written by Amanda Moon Ellevis