Feminism

Stop Punishing Survivors

A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.

We all know about Thomas Jefferson’s family with his teenaged slave Sally Hemmings. We all thought, or at least hoped, that the enslavement and sexual exploitation of African American women was long done. It isn’t.
Randall Volar III, a 34-year-old white man from Kenosha, WI was being investigated for child trafficking and pornography. His electronics were confiscated by Kenosha Police. He was accused of “sexual conduct” with underaged girls, a nice way of saying sexual violence and rape. One of the girls in his explicit films is Chrystul Kizer. There is video documentation of Volar forcing Chrystul into sexual acts with him. He sexually and physically abused her. He paid for her housing, and took her freedom, dignity, and body autonomy in exchange. On June 5th, 2018, Volar called an Uber to bring Chrystul, who was 17 at the time, to his house. When he attempted to rape her, she shot him.
Sound familiar? Probably because it sounds a lot like the case of Cyntoia Brown, who was released 15 years after she was sentenced to life in prison for killing the man who trafficked and raped her. Chrystul’s case reflects an epidemic of young, black women forced into sexual slavery. 43% of sex trafficking survivors are African American women. They are treated as disposable objects for perverted, abusive, racist adult men who think “trafficking white women would make them more money, but trafficking black women would land them less jail time if caught.” In the media and in court, trafficking survivors are often portrayed, like Chrystul and Cyntoia, as delinquents who deserved their abuse or who chose it. Kenosha DA Michael Graveley has told the public that Chrystul is a prostitute hired by Volar, and that his murder was pre-meditated.
Of the 2 million incarcerated people in the United States, 10% are women. Somewhere between 47%-82% of imprisoned women were sexually abused. Yet they are not given access to counseling or adequate healthcare, and are often exposed to experiences that make them relive their abuse. Prosecutors, like those who sentenced Chrystul and Cyntoia, use racist and sexist stereotypes of “gangster” street kids, promiscuous young women, and prostitutes to villainize women in court.
Chrystul, like Cyntoia, has already survived irreparable injustice. She’s 18. Her life has already been thrown out of control, because of a grown man’s disgusting abuse. She doesn’t deserve to spend the rest of her life in prison, getting more traumatized by the system that should have saved her in the first place. Currently, the DA won’t reduce her 1 million dollar bond, so she is being held in prison. The trial will be in March. Head over to our Action page to see how we can #SaveChrystulKizer.