When I arrived at Women’s Resources that day in May of 2021, I was a broken version of myself; scared, vulnerable and desperately needing help.
It all started with a dating app. I met a guy who painted a fairy tale picture of our future life together – married, children, house with a yard – bliss. With stars in my eyes, I eagerly jumped into this relationship. It seemed we had so much in common. We both grew up in abusive homes, at least that’s what he told me, and we needed to escape. He said he wanted to take care of me and it felt like he really listened when I shared my hopes and dreams. Not used to such attention, I was hooked. I had a boyfriend! We soon moved into an apartment together and I was so grateful to just get away from my volatile home life. There was no doubt that he loved me, right? Wrong.
This “honeymoon phase” lasted about 4 months, until we were short on the rent payment. He convinced me to entertain a friend – I found out, that meant trading sex for money – but only this one time. It’ll be okay, right? Wrong.
|Sex Trafficking is a form of human trafficking that involves recruiting, moving or holding victims for sexual exploitation purposes. Sex traffickers can coerce victims into providing sexual services by force or through threats, including mental and emotional abuse and manipulation. Government of Canada website
Too late, I realized all of it was a well thought out plan. He said the money would take care of us; pay for the roof over our heads, food in our mouths. Didn’t I owe him for getting me out of such a horrible home life? I felt like I didn’t have a choice. I was desperate to cling onto this new life – homelessness was the alternative. I just had to “treat his friends nice”. This wasn’t such a bad thing, was it? Wrong.
The drugs he offered me helped to numb the unspeakable sexual acts I was forced into. Often there was physical abuse and at times I was so high that I would completely forget it had happened at all until I saw the bruises the next day. For two years this continued. I lost a lot of weight, my hair was falling out and my skin looked terrible. On one rare occasion when I was lucid, I reached out to a friend and my “boyfriend” became so angry, it just wasn’t worth it. I stopped connecting with others until he became the only one in my life, complete isolation and control.
Emerging one day from the perpetual drugged fog I was in, I came to the frightening conclusion that I would have to find a way out, one way or another, or I would die. I found a rare chance to escape while he was out of the house. I ran to the nearest hospital and they connected me to Victim Services in the City of Kawartha Lakes who brought me to Women’s Resources emergency shelter.
The time I spent at Women’s Resources was crucial to my recovery. I was sick, and I was scared. The Anti-Human Trafficking Counsellors and others I met let me know that I was safe and very much welcome. They believed in me and didn’t doubt for a minute that I could turn my life around. I received the medical care needed to help me withdraw safely from the substance abuse. They let me cry and talk about the trauma I had been through that I had buried deep down inside for a very long time. I started to believe that I wasn’t alone in this world. The rooms dedicated to human trafficking survivors were comfortable, well-equipped accommodations that allowed me to concentrate on me. I had my own room, personal bathroom, and a kitchen that would eventually lead to my very healthy weight gain!!
Now that I can identify my experience as Human Sexual Trafficking, and my supposed “boyfriend” as the trafficker, I am able to admit that I was a victim of something I only thought existed in movies and certainly not in my rural community.
With the continued help of the incredible Anti-Human Trafficking team as well as the other counsellors, I left the shelter in November of 2021 with a safety plan and life purpose. They were able to source an affordable apartment (no small feat!) and I moved in, still with the lifeline of support from Women’s Resources that is always just a phone call away.
After two years I am a completely different version of myself, better than ever before. I know now that I am strong enough and deserve to live my life the way I always wished to, regardless of my past and the things that I was manipulated into doing.
Today, I am a store Manager, I’ve acquired my driver’s license and just bought my first car – I’m completely independent. Most importantly I’ve reconnected with some family members. I didn’t think that was possible. There is no doubt that I wouldn’t be the success story I am today if it wasn’t for this very special place called Women’s Resources.
I hope their Anti-Human Trafficking Program will continue. I know they saved my life, and others in similar circumstances deserve this same chance to live again.
With grateful thanks, Allison
|Human Sexual Trafficking is highly underreported due to its hidden nature and fear of retributions from their trafficker. Police-reported incidents of human trafficking show that 24% of victims are girls under the age of 18, and 45% are women aged 18-24.We have also supported older women at Women’s Resources (age 50 plus) choosing to leave “the game” which is how Sex Trafficking is often described.Indigenous women and girls face the highest risk of trafficking in Canada. Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline: https://www.canadianhumantraffickinghotline.ca 1-833-900-1010 or call your local police.
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