Angela's Story: Survivor of Human Trafficking
Angela* was a 20-year-old woman from a small village in Latin America. One of ten brothers and sisters, at a young age Angela left school and abandoned her dream of becoming a writer so that she could contribute to the family’s income. Through a friend, she learned of an opportunity to pursue her studies while working in the home of a family who was moving to America. The family promised her that they would support her education. After months of convincing her parents that this would help their economic situation, Angela moved with the family to the United States.
The promises that were made to Angela were illusory. For three years, she slept on a mattress in the family’s kitchen. She was not allowed out of the house. She worked twelve hours straight, seven days a week. She cooked, cleaned, cared for two infants and an elderly parent, and was responsible for all of the household maintenance, including preparing large meals for many guests. Threats, verbal abuse, and intimidation were constant. She was paid roughly 30 cents an hour.
A friend of the family eventually alerted authorities, and INS began an investigation. INS immediately called Safe Horizon. Safe Horizon found Angela a room in one of our domestic violence shelters, and we are managing her case, coordinating with law enforcement and INS. We have provided Angela with basic necessities like clothing, food, and safe place to stay and are supporting her with counseling, medical treatment, and legal assistance for her immigration status. Angela’s resilience is incredible, though she is struggling with the psychological impact of living in fear for so long. Her caseworker said that she recently asked for a Spanish-English dictionary so she can start to learn English. Perhaps Angela’s dreams of writing will finally come true.