Frida Farrell was initially hesitant of revisiting the darkest moment of her life.
The 38-year-old former model is the actor, writer, director and producer of “Selling Isobel,” which tells the story of a young mother whose life is changed when a charming stranger invites her to take part in a photo shoot, only to be kidnapped and sold into the sex trade. Isobel must then find a way to escape.
The story is loosely based on what happened to Farrell 14 years ago. The Swedish filmmaker opened up to Fox News about the traumatic episode she went through at age 24 while living in London.
“I wasn’t [going to be] in the film myself to start with,” said Farrell. “It was just too close. And also, I’ve been silent about this for 10 years. I figured I would hire someone to play me… But a friend said, ‘I think it’s stronger if you play yourself and if you come out and talk about it. What if you could help other women?’ I was very nervous about it… But if I can help just one person, then this was successful. That was the thing that made me do it.”
In 2004, the model was walking down the street in London when she was approached by a photographer. Farrell, who first began attending photo shoots at age 16 – accompanied by her mother, she recalls – was eager to take on the offer.
“Having just finished school, I thought it was good money,” she said. “I even thought, ‘Thank goodness I don’t have an agent anymore, now I don’t have to give 50 percent.’ I just thought I could make a lot of money… He told me there was going to be a casting and [asked] if I was interested. I said yes. I went along to the casting, which was completely normal. There were backdrops, a female assistant... He took headshots, body shots — the way it always is on photo shoots and casting.”
Soon after, the photographer called Farrell and told her she got the job. Delighted, Farrell returned to the same address to take on the gig.
She had no idea what awaited her.
“When I walked in, he locked the door behind me,” she claimed. “There was no camera, no nothing. No assistant. Just him… It was very hard to guess that was going to happen. He was so legit. He was so charming, nice and lovely. I did not see it coming. Not in the slightest. There was no red flag.”
Farrell claimed once the door was locked, the photographer took out a hunting knife. She froze.
“He didn’t force it on me, he just held it by his side, looked at me and walked away,” she recalled. .. I just kept thinking, 'How can I get out of this without getting hurt? If I start screaming, he’s going to hurt me. So what’s the way out without getting hurt?' I just remember telling him I needed to use the restroom. I didn’t know what I was thinking, but I just felt like I needed to get away from this moment. He said, ‘Right behind you, leave your bag on the floor.’ Of course, meaning my telephone.
“I guess that’s how I reacted to the situation. I just didn’t want to be hurt by him… This was a big man with a huge knife… And who was going to hear me in this corporate, fancy place in London? No one was going to hear me. I looked out the window and all I saw were clouds.”
According to Farrell, she complained of having a stomach ache when her captor offered her a glass of milk. Reluctantly, she drank it and blacked out. The Telegraph previously reported that for three days, men appeared at the apartment and raped her as the photographer fed her doses of an unknown drug. The Times of London added she was reportedly forced to pose for pornographic photos in used underwear. The publication also revealed she was sexually assaulted by the so-called photographer.
Farrell said her memories from the house of horrors are still hazy.
“This is going to sound crazy, but I was drugged a lot of the time and that helped,” she said. “You lose a few hours so it made the time go faster. And you only remember glimpses of things, which is good. So in some ways, I’m really grateful that I don’t remember all of it, all the little details.”
It was on the third day that Farrell got her chance to escape.
“I remember he was very stressed,” she described. “He didn’t say much to me. I never really got anything out of him. He just said, ‘Hurry up, someone’s coming, get dressed now!’ And rushed out and slammed the door. But I didn’t hear the click of the lock. I remember sobering up instantly and thinking he didn’t lock the door… I sneaked up to the door. I held my breath. I could hear footsteps going further and further away from me. I thought it’s now or never. If I got out and he’s there, I’m screwed anyway. I’ve got nothing to lose.
“Very quietly, I opened the door. I looked out and saw nobody. I… saw some clothes on the floor. I grabbed them… I was in a basement apartment downstairs. I knew where I was. And I ran. I ran through two revolving glass doors and onto the street. I ran as far as I could.”
Farrell claimed that after contacting police, she was informed her attacker had rented the apartment with cash and bought a card to use a cell phone. Law enforcement also reportedly told Farrell he was no longer in the flat, wasn’t in any registers and fingerprints didn’t reveal an identity.
“I thought they were going to keep looking, but they said he was gone,” she claimed. “I was heartbroken. … I just decided not to tell anyone ever. I was so upset and embarrassed.”
Farrell claimed she has not received any new updates concerning her attacker. London’s Metropolitan Police didn’t immediately respond to Fox News’ multiple requests for comment.
Farrell gave up on modeling and eventually left London in 2005. She currently resides in Los Angeles and spends her summers in Sweden. With the encouragement of a friend, Farrell drew on her own terrifying experiences for her film. In 2016, Variety reported “Selling Isobel” won the Raindance Film Festival’s inaugural Indie Award. The Telegraph added it is Britain’s biggest independent film festival. “Selling Isobel” will now be released worldwide on Nov. 6.
Farrell said her father, who saw the film in London, has been supportive.
“I tried to certainly tell him that this was really my story, that this was based on my life,” she said. “He just thought it was a story I made up. We had a screening in London and he flew from Sweden to London to watch it… Then he got it. He was shocked. Very shocked. But he’s been so fantastic. He’s been helping me emotionally, even financially in terms of helping me get this film out more. He’s helping me so much.”
Farrell hopes other aspiring models will learn from her experience and bring a loved one to photo shoots, no matter how old they are. She’s also grateful other women have come forward to finally speak up and share their own stories.
“I [originally] decided then and there I was never going to talk about it,” said Farrell. And now I am. It’s pretty scary still. I get knots in my stomach when I talk about it. But to have people come forward and be so supportive is the best thing that could have happened. I was able to turn the worst thing in my life into something really good.”
"Selling Isobel" has since been retitled to "Apartment 407.”