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2014 (Narrative date)

Vanessa was brought to the UK after being made false promises and forced into prostitution. She was able to escape after three months and was helped by Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA), a support service in Scotland for trafficking survivors. The majority of those trafficked to the UK have been identified victims of sexual exploitation, followed by adults exploited in the domestic service sector and other types of labour exploitation.

My name is Vanessa. I am 26yrs old and now live in Glasgow.

People do not believe this happens…it does. I am a survivor of trafficking.

I was deceived when I came to the UK and thought the trafficker was helping me. I believed I was going to be safe and have a good life here.

But when I came, this was not the case.

I was treated very very badly. I was locked in a room and made to have sex with many men. They would come every day and make me do things I did not want to do. These men would demand I did what they wanted as they had paid money for me. They never cared if I cried, they just carried on.

Sometimes they were very rough with me, they said horrible things to me and called me ugly names.

If I could say something that would stop trafficking for prostitution it would be simple…Do not allow people to buy sex. If there was no prostitution, no woman would be trafficked for this purpose. It is all about the money. Who has the money and who can make the money from selling women’s bodies. Nobody cares about the women who are trafficked to sell sex. Men don’t care, they spend their money, take what they want and carry on.

The traffickers prostituted me for three months before I managed to run away and I still feel the pain now. It is in my heart and in my head.

Despite the problems I have endured, I want to say that there is a happy ending to my story.

I want to say thank you to TARA for helping me through the dark days when I was in crisis and giving me the strength to carry on when I believed my life was not worth living. You were there to show me how I was a good person who had bad things done to me and it was not my fault. TARA believed in me.

My life has moved on so much and although I remember the dark days I no longer feel the pain so much. I am free now and building a safe life for myself. I am now employed in the Health Service and know that my life has turned around. There are still many women and girls going through what happened to me and I feel very sad for them.

Please let my story be used to help stop trafficking and prostitution.

Narrative as told to Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA)