Lucy's Story: Gift of Reunion (Anti-Trafficking Program)
Seven years. That’s how long it took before Lucy* saw her children again. She’d missed seven years of birthdays, holidays, and other special times that mothers share with their children. Lucy missed them because she’d spent those seven years as a victim of trafficking.
Lucy came to Safe Horizon’s Anti-Trafficking Program after law enforcement agents referred her to us. The agents had raided Lucy’s workplace and found her. When they learned that she’d been forced to work as a prostitute, they put Lucy in contact with our staff.
As Lucy told us her story, we found that like many parents, she simply wanted to provide her children with a better life and to support them. Her partner and the father of her children convinced her that she could find a way to earn enough money to support her children by coming with him to the United States, and then return to them after a few months. She believed him and after leaving her children in the care of her mother, followed him. Once she came to New York, however, he quickly forced her to become a prostitute, taking advantage of her trust and hopes. For the next seven years, Lucy had no rights. She suffered her partner’s abuse and exploitation, and he never let her contact her children.
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When Lucy was finally freed from her situation, she still thought about her children and if she’d ever see them again. She told us she’d been able to reach her mother and her children by telephone. She spoke with them every day and, using the money she now earned as a waitress, she’d send them gifts. What worried Lucy the most, however, was if her former trafficker would find her children – and if he’d harm them as payback for her talking to law enforcement about his crimes.
Thankfully, Safe Horizon could provide Lucy with what she wanted the most: to protect and to see her children. Our Anti-Trafficking Program attorney worked with Lucy on how she could be reunited with her children, while her case manager helped Lucy prepare her home and herself for their arrival.
Finally, the big day came, and Lucy and her case manager went to the airport where she would meet her children for the first time in seven years. She’d told us how nervous she was about seeing them … yet the minute she saw her children’s faces, she became a beaming, proud parent.
Lucy and her children have many things to catch up on – birthdays, holidays, and other times of joy. But now Lucy has that chance to spend special times with her children, thanks to the Anti-Trafficking Program, and thanks to the special people who support Safe Horizon’s efforts to give trafficking victims their lives, their freedom, and their chance to find the futures they truly need and deserve.