By: T. Felder
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 04/08/2021 – Lack of Love is a short-animated documentary by filmmaker Noel Keserwany, highlighting Tiffany Simpson, a victim of human trafficking, jailed as the result of her own victimization. In the film, Simpson takes us on a journey through her life. Simpson’s father was convicted of murder when she was just six years old and her mother suffered from severe alcoholism. Her grandmother and aunt gained custody of her at the age of thirteen. In the film, Simpson states, “They tried to raise me, but I was too empty.” Lacking love and unable to fit in Simpson left school and found solace in drugs and men. At the age of seventeen Simpson met a thirty-four-year-old man by the name of Shawn.
Shortly into their relationship, Shawn began trafficking Simpson for money, calling her, “a walking paycheck.” In fear of her and her family’s life, Simpson continued the relationship. Simpson became pregnant by Shawn and was forced to continue sex work. In 2012, an incident occurred where Shawn trafficked Simpson and a thirteen-year-old girl to four men. The authorities became involved Shawn and Simpson were both arrested for trafficking a minor.
Simpson has served nine years of a thirty-year sentence in Pulaski State Prison in Hawkinsville, Georgia. In 2012, Simpson read a USA Today article on sex trafficking and decided to write a letter to Andrea Powell, the woman in the article. Powell read Simpsons’ letter and wanted to help. Through Powell, Simpson was able to gain a better understanding of her status as a victim and the reasons why she deserved her freedom. he no longer had to ask herself, “Am I a victim of sex trafficking, or am I just a prostitute?” the answer became clear.
Visit here to watch the Lack of Love documentary. The Hollywood Times had the opportunity to have a conversation with Andrea Powell about her organization Karana Rising, their partnership with Dressember, and her relationship with Tiffany Simpson.
How did you come to co-found Karana Rising?
I had a friend trafficked through her parents, so I went to Bosnia to look for her and saw so many women being trafficked. I came back to my own area of DC and saw it here too. Survivors need a safe space, a community. And that’s what we created.
Can you elaborate on the Survivor Justice Initiative and Karana Risings partnership with Dressember?
It’s a partnership between Karana Rising, Dressember, survivors, allied agencies, and legal experts to support survivors who are arrested or incarcerated as a result of their human trafficking experience. It supports currently incarcerated survivors by providing direct social and legal support during their incarceration and on their pathway to freedom. We are advocating for this issue to be addressed systematically and the burden of proof be shifted away from the victim and onto the state. Through this partnership, we want to educate the public and demand survivors’ freedom so that they can be reacclimated back into society and begin their journey towards healing.
When did you first come in contact with Tiffany Simpson?
Tiffany wrote me a letter nine years ago explaining her story and asked me the question, “Am I a victim of sex trafficking or just a prostitute?” After reading her letter I stayed up all night writing her back. I wrote her over thirty pages explaining to her, her status as a victim. Since then, I’ve become very close to Tiffany and her family. We are all fighting extremely hard for her freedom and reunification with her son Ayden.
How did the idea for the short film Lack of Love come about?
The need for Tiffany to share her story, helping society see how children lacking love fall victim to trafficking and abuse. The criminal justice system has failed so many youths like Tiffany, often resulting in them spending decades incarcerated. It’s time we seek justice for them and allow them to recover and move forward, free to rebuild the life that was taken from them.
What can the public do to support this initiative and advocate for justice for the victims?
They can join us on Saturday, May 1, for our #FreeTiffany virtual 5k run hosted by Dressember to raise support for survivors like Tiffany. Services include; wellness supplies, therapy, legal services, and access to educational supplies.
How can they get in touch with you?
Via email, email@example.com or visit our website Karanarising.org .
While serving her time Simpson has been able to obtain her GED and become a professional advocate with Karana Rising. She supports incarcerated survivors through mentoring and letters and is currently working with her attorney, Susan Coppedge, to be released from prison.
Sign the petition to free Tiffany here