Trafficked as a teenager, it took Nikki Bell many attempts before she could exit prostitution at the age of 33 and recover from the drug addiction she developed during years of exploitation. She understands that it takes a lifetime of healing and therapy to recover from the aftermath of prostitution. For women to exit prostitution, Ms. Bell believes that, rather than criminalizing the victims, the real perpetrators—pimps and buyers—need to be prosecuted, and victims offered exit services.
“Everything in my life set me up to be standing on that street corner. Never once did anyone offer me a chance or help. The question was always what’s wrong with you and not what happened to you. It’s a privilege to ‘choose’ sex work. Individuals are forced into it because of poverty or drug addiction. Nobody is choosing to be out on those streets. These women stuck now are the kids nobody engaged.”