A Ukrainian woman who fled the war to find safety in the UK was instead trafficked for sexual exploitation by the man who sponsored her.
Galyna* had met him on a dating website a few years before the Russian invasion, and thought she could trust him after having chatted with him over that time. When the war started, he messaged her and offered to be her sponsor and to set her up with a job.
But when she arrived in the UK, needing help, he instead used his power over her as her sponsor under the visa scheme to try to exploit her. Over the course of a frightening and stressful few weeks, he had her constantly moved around between properties and hotels, getting her to work for his business for free, while pressuring her for sex.
She was hungry, confused and shocked at the behaviour of this man who she thought she knew. It turned out that was not only was he married, he also boasted of his exploitative relationships with multiple other women.
When it became clear she was not going to agree to his demands, the man had her dropped off at a council building, washing his hands of her because he could not control her as he had wanted.
Later, a local charity helping homeless people spotted the signs of trafficking and put her in contact with Hope for Justice.
Our team gained her trust and Galyna shared her story, and agreed to enter the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), the UK Government’s system for identifying and giving safe house support to potential victims. Hope for Justice assisted her with all her basic needs and helped her find somewhere better to live, and to access vouchers provided by British Red Cross for Ukrainians in the UK.
Our support worker said: “She was really grateful for this support, that we were there to help her and guide her. She said she would have been lost in this country without Hope for Justice. Galyna wants to share her story and for other people to know this is happening, because she knows there are other people out there being exploited and controlled by their sponsors.”
Galyna is today doing well and living in far better circumstances. She said: “Thank you for helping Ukrainians and everyone who needs help.”