Sexual exploitation survivor fights to recuperate lost social assistance funds

By Michael Boriero – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Sexual exploitation survivor fights to recuperate lost social assistance funds

Isabelle Simpson, a sexual abuse and exploitation survivor, feels like she has been abandoned by the Quebec government, as she continues to live through a financial nightmare that began several years ago when her abuser, who also acted as her pimp, left her thousands of dollars in debt.
Simpson, alongside Centre d’aide et de lutte contre les agressions à caractère sexuel (CALACS) Agression Estrie, L’Action Plus de Sherbrooke, and Sherbrooke MNA Christine Labrie, shared her story on Wednesday afternoon inside the Baobab Café de quartier.
“Hell, just hell,” said Simpson. “Every day was violence, every day he was beating me. I had to bring money to him, I had to do everything for him.”
She was forced into prostitution for nearly a year before her abuser was finally arrested, but his impact on her life lasted long after they cut ties. Simpson had accumulated $14,200 in debt, which she never knew about because she had no control over her bank account.
While she collected social assistance cheques from the Quebec government, which she does to this day, her abuser was also depositing the money she earned through prostitution into her account, as well as several stolen cheques. The government noticed the sudden increase in her income.
According to Simpson, they assumed she was making money elsewhere, so they chopped her social assistance cheques by $260. They continued to send her reduced cheques, even after it was revealed that she had been exploited sexually. She decided to stay in sex work to make ends meet.

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