There are an estimated 136,000 people living on conditions of modern slavery un the United Kingdom (Global Slavery Index 2018). According to the 2017 annual figures provided by the National Crime Agency, 5, 145 potential victims of modern slavery were referred through the National Referral Mechanism in 2017, of whom 2,454 were female, 2688 were male and 3 were transgender, with 41% of all referrals being children at the time of exploitation. People are subjected to slavery in the UK in the form of domestic servitude, labour exploitation, organ harvesting and sexual exploitation, with the largest number of potential victims originating from Albania, China, Vietnam and Nigeria. This data however does not consider the unknown numbers of victims that are not reported.
Ruth was trafficked from Eastern Europe to the UK in to prostitution. Though she was able to escape with the help of a man, she was tricked again and forced to be ‘his own personal slave’. She was finally able to escape with the help of another man to whom she is now married. Ruth tells of how she found the Sophie Hayes Foundation and what it has meant to her.
My name is Ruth and I come from Eastern Europe. I was forced into the sex industry after being tricked by a friend. I managed to escape from it with the help of a man, but was tricked again by him into being his own personal slave. I met somebody else during this time, even though I didn’t feel like I could trust him, I felt like I have to get out and he was my only escape. I am glad I did it as now we are happily married and he is the best thing that happened to me.
I remember like it was yesterday when I first got in contact with SHF. I found Sophie’s book at a petrol station, picked it up and finished it in 3 hours, crying all the way through. At the end of the book I saw all the contact details, but I was too scared and embarrassed to call, so D, the man who saved me from hell (now my husband) did it for me.
I can’t find the words to describe how good SHF has been with me, how much they’ve helped me, encouraged me, made me believe I am worthy and that I AM NOT ALONE! It has been a long journey to get where I am now. The whole “healing” process has been painful, but there were lots of happy moments and now I can finally say I am happy, very happy! From a scared, frightened girl I can say I became a secure woman.
It took me more than 2 years to realise that I can take decisions for myself, I can decide what to wear, where to go, I am a little bit more open in meeting new people without being afraid that they will know what I’ve been through and they will judge me. Recently, I became a manager and this is when I knew I’ve got my CONFIDENCE back!
I still get horrible nightmares and wake up screaming, but now I know that THEY CAN’T DO ANYTHING TO ME ANYMORE! I AM NOT AFRAID OF THEM! And you should think the same: “THEY” CAN’T TOUCH YOU! This note of hope is for you, so you can see that you are not alone and you can succeed. It does exist, life after all those horrible moments and it does exist happy endings, it’s not only a fairy tale. And you need to know that YOU ARE WORTHY and you are THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN YOUR LIFE and you ARE FREE and nobody can take that away from you, never!
HOPE IS THE LITTLE VOICE YOU HEAR WHISPER “MAYBE” WHEN THE ENTIRE WORLD IS SHOUTING “NO”!”
Narrative provided by The Sophie Hayes Foundation in their report ‘Becoming Hope: Stories, Reflections and Recommendations about Trafficking and Slavery Aftercare in the UK’.