‘I have found a place where I belong’: survivor finds freedom after more than 10 years in exploitation

A female survivor who has been sexually abused and exploited for more than half of her life says she has “found a place where she belongs.”

Erin*, who is in her late 20s, was sexually abused as a child before being sold into exploitation as a teenager. This cycle of abuse, coupled with her trafficking experiences, has left her physically, emotionally and mentally traumatised.

With her consent, a counsellor who has been supporting her through the psychological impact of being a survivor of human trafficking referred her to Hope for Justice earlier this year.

One of the charity’s Hub team members said: “We have supported this survivor over a number of months. The exploitative situations she has been subjected to and the horrendous nature of these crimes mean that the survivor is experiencing the long-term consequences of trauma and has many other complex needs. Our team is doing all that we can to support Erin through the recovery process and, in time, we have faith that she can and will heal.”

Erin was trafficked in the UK for the purpose of prostitution and sexual exploitation over a period of more than 10 years. Her ID was taken away from her by her perpetrators, who profited from her misery, taking control of her bank accounts and often threatening her. Sometimes she was given little or no food.

A member of our team said: “Erin was controlled and prevented from escaping this harrowing situation until a kind-hearted stranger befriended her and assisted her to leave. Erin was offered accommodation, food and security. As her trust grew, she was able to share about some of her experiences, eventually resulting in her being referred to Hope for Justice.”

Our team has supported Erin to enter the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), the UK’s formal process for identifying potential victims of trafficking and modern slavery, resulting in a positive reasonable grounds conclusion. This means that she now has access to outreach support, subsistence, counselling and medical care. She is currently in safe accommodation.

Hope for Justice is continuing to work with the survivor’s support worker to help find long-term suitable accommodation for her.

She told our team: “I feel happy and safe where I am now and want to stay for as long as possible. I have found a family and a place where I belong. I am thankful for all of the support that I have received from Hope for Justice.”

*Name changed to protect identity of survivor