Cyntoia Brown-Long on realizing she was a sex trafficking victim: 'It took many, many years'


I guess was just sixteen years old when she was convicted of killing a man who solicited her for sex and sentenced to life in prison after serving fifteen years she was granted full clemency and tells her story in the new book freese and Toya my search for redemption in the American prison system she's welcome Sin Toya Brown Law the there are few stories you will read a book fiction or fact that have as many twists and turns as life that you have lived I knew a few details of your story but reading through the book is a really powerful and painful and then redemptive experience at the same time when you wrote the story again was it hard for you to relive some of the decisions and some of the things that happened to you in your life that got you to where you ended up says you know when I started writing the book I had thought that I had dealt with everything that had happened to me and when you're actually riding those things it brings up that time that moment you have to step back in there especially when I started working with the rider is amazing writer Bethany Mauger s really great questions really good to be able to just really process that and to to just really step back in those moments even though it was hard what one part of your story that is particularly powerful and complicated is when you talk about your relationship with the idea that you were involved in sex trafficking and it's really really gripping in the book because you say you didn't consider yourself to be part of sex trafficking in any way you know there's a passageway you say I thought of sex traffic victims people who are in suitcases or stuff to contain as unchained and yet I thought I had a boyfriend when in fact this was your pimp who was making you do what you would you would doing in the world is that part of the problem that we face in dealing with sex trafficking is that some of the people who are involved in it don't think of themselves as being victims in the in the situation absolutely I can't identify victims when it comes to some of the people who are supposed to be saying you know this is child abuse our camera the study where I think it was fifty seven percent of mandatory reporters where these are counselors teachers these are people who are constant contact with the youth they're supposed to report every instance of child abuse him fifty seven percent of them thought that some teenagers willingly prostituted themselves thought that some teenagers traded thanks for for shelter for food because they did it they consented and that's just not the case that is abuse that is exploitation and these individual rules aren't reporting it and if you have them saying you're not a victim you're actually willingly doing this hour and I believe it and so for so long aw I just consented I was just promiscuous because that's what I was being told by society and so it took for a campaign from a group in Tennessee he call in slavery that you know they stress that there's no such thing as teenage prostitution I didn't know anything about the federal statute that said anyone who's a minor it was actually a trafficking victim there's no such thing as consent and you know that was hard to kind of face I used to argue with people when they said you know you were taking advantage of no I wasn't I knew what I was doing and that's just not the case it's really hard to be in that situation where you still want to maintain agency but at the same time you have to admit that something was done to you you faced the ultimate punishment for what happened to you in your life and was after this man solicitor you took you back to his place abused you and essentially held you captive in his world you killed him and he was sentenced to life imprison was meant to be over fifty years you served fifteen which is essentially a life sentence because you were sixteen years old at the time in that time in prison what did you think your world was going to be you know because you went in as a sixteen year old well I don't know but I know that every since I was in prison I'd always dreamed of living a real life I never let go of hoping we'll get out one day so I really feel like I'm I'm living my dream right now yes so I always kept always kept have pain you can't that hope is that is that what you studied in prison it is because that that was that was fascinating to me and the story is here's somebody who's going to spend the rest of their life in jail there is no promise that you will get out and yet here you are studying furthering your education trying to make the best of the time that you have why do that when you don't think you're gonNA get out because I didn't even like at Emily them when they tell me I would make a point the One I would say things you'd hear a lot of people say you know if I get out or if Markham fishing is overturned I would always say when I get out and I know my husband in our talk to him all the time well when I get out I wanna do this and he would always be like well let's cross that bridge when we get there but it's just something that came so natural when I get out when I get it when I get out and it was like that for the entire fifteen years when we look at the criminal justice system today in America it is an unfortunate fact that there were many some Toyota browns who are experiencing its adverse effects if there was one thing you wish would have been different when it came you how your case was handled what would you wish the thing would be that would be applied to every case going forward my case specifically number one I I do think that there are things that I needed to be held accountable for and I think there are a lot of cases with juveniles who commit certain crimes there has to be locality there has to be consequences however a juvenile is not the same as an adult even the supreme court has he ruled that several times and a string of cases so it just doesn't seem like it makes sense to me for the Supreme Court I think it needs to change it's still the case now you still have juveniles who are tried as adults think that's one of the things that needs to change and to be honest with you I think a lot of senses are just excessive in general of that fifty one years is is like who's GonNa make fifty one years in prison nobody

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