My name is Vanessa. I am 26yrs old and now live in Glasgow.
People don’t believe this happens……it does.
I am a survivor of trafficking.
I was deceived when I agreed to come to the UK and thought the trafficker was helping me. I believed I was going to be safe and have a good life. 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 (Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance) 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 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.
*Names have been changed
My life prior to Chrysalis was very difficult. By the age of 26, my drink and drug use was so serious that I suffered double organ failure and was hospitalised for six weeks. I’ve been placed in a number of different hostels since January 2011, but I found that they weren’t suitable for my needs.
In one - I was taken advantage of by a male - as I was so intoxicated it was unclear if the relationship was within the law. I was then moved to a women’s hostel for my own safety because I was using alcohol to such an extreme level that I was very venerable, and actually spent much of my time in blackout. But, after years of struggle, when I finally became clean in April 2013, there were still people using in my hostel.
Other girls would frequently knock on my door for money, tobacco etc - a constant reminder that drugs were easily accessible. I was determined that I wanted to stay clean. I had a clear idea of where I wanted to go in my career and what I needed to get there. The one thing I felt that kept holding me back was my hostel, I couldn’t help but think that if I remained in a using environment, I would in fact return to using.
My goal has always been to be 100% drug and alcohol free. I am not one of those people who can even afford to dabble every now and again. Drugs and alcohol took everything from me. I went from being a university graduate with a career earning £35k plus commission, telephone and travel expenses to being an unemployed drug user living in a hostel, with nothing to show from my former life.
So when I was told that there was a Commonweal flat about to become available, as part of the Chrysalis scheme, I was desperate to get it! The responsibility of a tenancy was not new to me and I was financially secure at that time. Still, I knew that managing a flat while on benefits would be a struggle; but I also knew that it was just what I needed to keep heading forward.Since moving into the flat I could not have been happier! It has given me confidence and a feeling of permanence I had not felt in years. With my drug use and constantly feeling trapped in a cycle of relapse and hostels, my life just seemed transient. I feel I am now building a home for my future. I am looking to go back to university next year to do my PGCE to become a teacher and have a safe drug free environment to do this from.
Although I like to think that I would have remained abstinent no matter what happened, in reality, had it not been for the opportunity I was given by Commonweal, I don’t know if I would be making the plans I am today.
*Names have been changed