Raven was only about 4 years old the first time her parents left her at a photo studio with a child pornographer.
Nicholas Kristof writes (linked above):
“This happens all over the world; it happens in America,” [Raven] said during a visit to New York. “It’s not necessarily children being kidnapped and swept away. A lot of times it’s someone the child trusts: family members or a minister or a coach.”
The child pornography industry is a facet of child abuse that has exploded with the rise of the Internet, and it’s widely misunderstood.
A Justice Department study reports that 21 million unique computer I.P. addresses were tracked while sharing child pornography files in 2009, more than 9 million of them in the United States. It’s not clear how many individuals that represented because some people may have used multiple computers. It’s also not clear how many children are abused to generate child pornography, but, in 2011, law enforcement authorities in the United States turned over 22 million such images and videos to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to try to identify the victims. With enormous frustration, police watched one girl they called Vicky being abused year after year; she grew up in wrenching images on their screens. Finally, she was located and her father was arrested for exploiting her.
There’s sometimes a perception that child pornography is about teenage girls pulling off their tops. That’s not remotely what we’re talking about.
“If we were starting over, we wouldn’t call it child pornography,” says Ernie Allen, president of the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “This is different. This is not pornography. These are crime scene photos. These are photos of the abuse of a child.”
Of the images the national center has examined, 76 percent involve prepubescent children with no signs of sexual maturation. One in 10 are infants or toddlers. More than three-quarters of image series involve sexual penetration, and 44 percent involve bondage or sadomasochism.
“People don’t have an understanding of the kind of content and how horrific it is,” said Julie Cordua, executive director of Thorn, an organization that uses digital strategies to fight sex trafficking. “This is the documentation of the worst kinds of abuse against a child.”
Raven is an example of a young woman who is using the pain of her past – and her artistic ingenuity – to help others who have been abused. For more information on her work combating child abuse in the UK and around the world, visit Outspiral and Hooray for Hollywood.