A 42-year-old mother of four is relieved that the men responsible for forcing her into prostitution more than 20 years ago will face justice.

Three men were sentenced in Edmonton on Friday for exploiting and abusing her for a decade in the 1990s.

One of the men was her boyfriend at the time, The others were friends.

The woman, who cannot be named under a publication ban, was 19 when she travelled to Edmonton from New Brunswick.

When she arrived, the men were living in poverty in a dirty apartment. They told her she needed to make money for them by working the streets.  At first, she thought they were joking.  

“When I realized they were serious, I was horrified,” she said Friday. “It wasn’t until we were in the laneway and they were making me get out of the car.

“People talk about fight or flight. They forget about freeze. The gazelle caught by the lion that stops fighting. That’s what I did.”

The woman was sexually assaulted by the men she lived with. They would drive her somewhere, drop her off and force her to turn tricks, even on Christmas Day.

Eventually she got the courage to leave.

Four years ago, an Edmonton police detective encouraged her to seek justice. Earlier this year, the men were convicted of sexual assault charges. Two of the men, including her ex-boyfriend, were also convicted of prostitution charges.

The woman’s ex-boyfriend was sentenced to six years in prison. One man was given a three-year prison sentence. The third man was given two years of house arrest, followed by one year of probation.

The woman hopes that telling her story will help others.

“A pimp isn’t selling sex,” she said outside court. “A pimp is selling a human being. And it takes a piece of your soul.

“And in order for you to get that back, you have to get your justice. You have to tell your story.”