TRICKED into attending a fake photoshoot, actress Frida Farrell was drugged, kidnapped and subjected to a three day rape ordeal.
It’s the sort of harrowing event that most would want to forget, but the brave mother-of-one has instead re-lived her sex-trafficking hell for a new movie.
In an exclusive interview with The Sun, she says: “I made this movie to help other women – to show the world I am a survivor and not a victim.
“Less than two per cent of women are able to escape trafficking. I’m actually really lucky – I can sit here and talk about it. There are lots of women who can’t.”
During her time in captivity Frida’s body was sold to around six men by her captor “Peter”.
Despite the horrors that took place in the sparsely decorated Harley Street flat, Frida claims it was the initial scenes of Apartment 407 – that depict how she was duped – that were hardest to film.
Frida, then aged 23, had recently moved to London to train as an actress at the Central School of Speech and Drama, when she was approached by Peter on Oxford Street.
He told her she’d be the perfect model for a £7,000 Harley Davidson campaign. He was “friendly” and “very typically English”.
And he seemed the perfect gentleman when she first visited his flat for the bogus casting, which was set up as an “entirely legitimate” photography studio.
'He locked the door and everything changed'
When she returned to the same spot for “the photoshoot”, everything changed.
Frida – who lived in the UK for 14 years – says: “He was so charming when he opened the door, and then as soon as I walked in, he comes up behind me and locks the door and puts the key in his pocket.
“My brain was just like: ‘What’s going on? What’s going on? What’s going on?’
“And then he turned around and pulled out a knife. And that’s when you really just freeze. Obviously, everything is wrong.”
It’s the moment that Frida, now 44, still has “nightmares” about because it’s the point she lost all control.
“The rest is, in hindsight, not my fault. You can’t change it,” she explains, solemnly.
There was a lot of “back and forth” with the film’s writers about whether to dramatise the scene but they decided to stick to Frida’s experience.
“In reality, what happens is you freeze and you want to become as little as possible so this person won’t use a knife on you,” she says.
“It’s not very dramatic in a film but in the end we went with reality because it is very important for me to show the truth.”
Capturing this moment on camera was the hardest part of the film-making process for Frida, who is still haunted by “regret” that she didn’t run.
“The obvious thing that’s going to be hard to deal with are the rape scenes, but I was very, very blessed with the people who were playing those roles," she says.
“They were so good. They were more nervous than I was so I almost became like the person who was trying to take care of them, to make sure they were okay.
“That also helped me in a way. I didn’t have to think about the bad side of it so much.”
After being locked inside Peter’s fake studio, Frida was handed a bag of used underwear and told to put it on. She was also given a glass of milk and told to drink.
I drank the milk… I'm glad I did
“I knew he put something in it – I’m not stupid," she says. "I looked at him and he knew that I knew. We didn’t have to say anything.
“I just thought to myself: ‘I’m just going to drink this and forget about it. I don’t know what’s in it. Whatever it is, it is going to be better not to know.’
“So I drank the glass of milk. I’m glad I did.”
After drinking the milk, Peter led her to the living room where he opened his pants.
Frida thought “about ten times” about refusing to engage in a sex act but she was scared and wanted to keep on his good side.
Trapped in a sparse room for three days
Soon the drugs kicked in and in a haze Frida woke up on a single bed in a different apartment.
“It was very clever of him to disorientate me like that, because now I don’t even know where I am," she says.
“And he was smart – he had pulled out everything that was loose. So there was a small kitchenette but no drawers. There were no doors, no toilet seat, nothing that I could use as a weapon.
“At one point, I tried to get the door frame off. It’s so ridiculous but in that moment I thought: ‘I’m going to get the door frame off, and I’m going to use it.’
“I spent ages trying to do it, but it was impossible. I’ve got no tools, it’s just me – and I’m in and out of drugs.”
The Swedish-born model believes she was held captive for three days and was raped by around six men.
They were mostly “well-dressed” but didn’t speak to her at all. She believes the men knew she was not a prostitute because for most of the time she was barely conscious.
Thankfully most of her time was a blur as Peter would return at regular intervals to drug her with more milk.
But on one occasion he made a crucial mistake.
'My world stopped'
Frida recalls: “He came rushing in, he seemed really stressed and threw some underwear at me.
“He said: ‘Get dressed, someone’s coming in two minutes.’
“Then he rushes out and slams the door as he did all the time. But this time there was no click of the lock.
“I’ll never forget that moment, because my world stopped.”
Frida thought that he could have been “testing” her – and that any escape attempt would have been met with violence.
But she decided she had to take her chance.
Adrenaline pumping through her body, she picked up her clothes and “slowly, slowly” opened the door, careful to make as little noise as possible.
She tiptoed sideways up a flight of stairs and found herself in the entrance hall of the same Harley Street building she’d entered a few days ago.
Then she ran for “blocks and blocks and blocks”.
Too scared to return home, she caught a cab to a friend’s house in Acton, west London.
A few days later, her pal encouraged her to go to the police but they seemed skeptical of her story.
“I started telling the story and they were like: ‘Well, you walked in on your own? He didn’t even force you in?’" she says.
“Why would you say something like that? I became smaller and smaller and smaller and I shut down. I felt really, really insignificant.”
The police did look for Peter but the flat turned out to be paid for in cash on a weekly basis and he appeared to vanish without a trace.
Frida suspects his actions were motivated by money and that he was caught up in a bigger web of crime.
But in reality, she doesn’t know because he gave little away in their dealings.
“He was like stone,” she says.
Despite everything that happened over those three days, Frida never gave up on escape.
“I think that the survival instinct is the last thing that leaves you," she says. "That will stick with you all the way to the end, until literally your last breath.
“I didn’t give up. I didn’t give in. I nearly did. But I didn’t.”
'Making movie kept me going'
It was her then husband – British radio presenter Chris Farrell – who convinced her to make a movie about her experiences to “help others”.
And since the release of the film – which is now available to stream on Amazon Prime – Frida has heard from many other women.
She said: “What inspired me to make the movie was to help others. That’s the only thing that’s kept me going in making the film and going through it all again.
“I have the reaction of people who’ve seen it telling their stories to me. It shows me I did the right thing, to do this to help them.
“It’s not necessarily similar to what I’ve been through, but it’s all been in that realm of things.
“A ‘no’ that has not been respected or a rape. That’s big in their world, so it should never be small in anyone’s world, you know?
“Whatever happened to this person is big for them.”
She also wants to highlight the dangers of freelance work that could see “anyone” fall victim to a similar crime.
“Anyone that’s freelance – models, actors, journalists, photographers. We all often turn up somewhere and just assume things will be fine,” she says.
“Always let someone know where you are and if you’re going to a casting with someone you don’t know, bring a friend or partner.”
We meet in an east London studio – a set-up that can’t help but bring back memories for Frida, who now lives back home in Sweden.
Being back in the UK’s capital, her mind can’t help but wonder what she’d do if she saw Peter on the street.
Frida admits she’d be tempted to throttle him – but would “most probably call the police and follow him until they arrive”.
“I couldn’t just do nothing,” she says, shaking her head.
A survivor to the last.
Apartment 407 is available to stream now on Amazon Prime.
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