Human trafficking survivor, author speaks at Montgomery summit

Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 10:18 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 27, 2023 at 11:00 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Law enforcement, counselors and others attended the ninth annual Alabama Human Trafficking Summit in Montgomery on Friday. A well-known human trafficking survivor was the keynote speaker at the event.

Cyntoia Brown-Long was sentenced to life in prison in 2006 after she shot and killed a 43-year-old man while he was picking her up for sex.

Long mentioned in her speech that she experienced issues of low self-esteem and alienation as a child, so she ran away at 13 years old, trying to fill a void.

“My entire identity revolved around this need to feel wanted, to be accepted, to just belong,” Long said.

Long communicated with a man during her time in prison who reintroduced her to faith and became her husband after she was granted clemency by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

The survivor emphasized to the audience that freeing victims goes beyond data and rescue rhetoric. The key is faith.

Since her release, Long has been around the country, speaking to groups about her experience as a human trafficking survivor and navigating through the criminal justice system.

According to her memoir, “Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System,” Long is CEO and co-founder of the Foundation for Justice, Freedom, and Mercy.

Watch Long’s full speech below.

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