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“It’s easy to judge someone when we don’t understand, but if we had to walk in their shoes we have no idea where we’d end up”.
I read this story and my heart sank into my stomach. If you don’t know Chyrstul Kizer’s story, here is a recap. The nineteen year old child trafficking survivor is being charged with murdering the man who trafficked her. He sexually abused her and a number of other children. Her abuser, Randall Volar III, was charged with child sexual assault and other related crimes. He died before he had to face the court on these charges. After his death, law enforcement also found evidence that Volar III was a perpetrator of human trafficking.
Chrystul Kizer was seventeen when she was arrested for killing Volar III. The prosecutor claims it was premeditated; Chrystul states that it was self-defense. Chrystul’s lawyers had to fight to gain access to the evidence compiled against Volar III. After reviewing the evidence, they urged the courts to allow Chrystul an affirmative defense. Meaning, her defense would be the abuse and human trafficking she endured at the hands of the deceased. The judge denied the defense’s efforts. Chrystul now faces life in prison if she is found guilty of the charges against her.
As a society, we often stray from truly speaking about severe forms of trauma such as human trafficking, child rape, and sexual abuse. I refuse to follow suit. These things happen every single day and silence gives power to the perpetrators, not the victims and survivors who deserve it. There has to be conversation.
Bluntly put, Chrystul Kizer was a child whom an adult male repeatedly raped. Her abuser then sold her, so that other men could rape her. She was still a child when she pulled the trigger that killed her trafficker. If we diminish Chrystul’s story to the moment she pulled the trigger, we condone a misrepresentation of truth and a miscarriage of justice. If we place responsibility on a child to know what they should do in a traumatic situation, we misplace fault.
In this case, the only person who should be criminalized is the man who abused, filmed, and trafficked Chrystul. As well as the men who bought and raped her. Collectively, those men inflicted a horrible pain that Chrystul and other victims, will have to carry for the rest of their lives. They perpetrated trauma that causes severe, long-lasting trauma symptoms and suffering. They treated their victims as less than human and permanently changed their lives.
Killing someone is never the answer, but Chrystul was a child making what she believed to be the one choice she had to stop her trauma from continuing. Her trauma was so horrific that she saw her perpetrator dying as the only way to keep herself, Volar III’s other victims, and future victims safe. She did what she had to do to survive. Chrystul Kizer doesn’t need punishment; she needs healing, hope, faith, support, and love.