When a pimp approached 16-year-old Jessica Richardson at the Portland diner where she was working in 1995, Jessica was primed to accept his offer. She had been sexually abused at age 5, and then her dad was murdered when she was 10. "I desperately needed to be accepted and loved. And when I didn't have my father and was already used to being sexually exploited, it just seemed to fit that all I was good for was sex," says Richardson.
Soon after meeting the "incredibly charming man," Richardson was turned out, first in Portland, then at sporting events and hotels up and down the I-5 corridor, the West Coast's track for trafficking. After 15 months of the nightmare, then an unplanned pregnancy, Richardson fled her pimp at age 18.
Now a Christian and member of City Bible Church in east Portland, she is one of the best-known survivors in the city, speaking to churches and schools to expose the lie that says anyone is only good for sex and testify to Christ's transforming love and acceptance.
On site in Portland, CT video producer Nathan Clarke and associate editor Katelyn Beaty spoke with Richardson about her story of survival, documented in a stunning short film for CT's This Is Our City project. Richardson spoke of the connection between trafficking and pornography, the multibillion-dollar-a-year industry, 89 percent of which is created in the United States. Her story impresses upon Christians the importance of treating pornography as more than a personal discipleship issue.
You experienced the sex industry from the inside out. How does that experience change the way you see it?
All around us we see this glamorized image of the sex industry. We see that it's something amazing, this "porn star lifestyle." What we're seeing is just ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more