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Therese's Story: Celebrating Independence
No one ever imagines being forced to work against their will. Yet there are over 12 million people in the world today who find themselves trapped in slave-like conditions, desperately looking for a way out. Therese was among those millions.
Therese came to our Anti-Trafficking Program as a referral from one of our partners. Therese told us she’d been trafficked into the country and had just escaped her traffickers with her young son. A friend of hers had taken her in, but her traffickers found out where she was living and began to threaten her. Therese didn’t feel safe, and she didn’t want to put her friend’s life in danger. Yet she didn’t have anywhere else to go and no way to support herself or her child. She did, however, have the courage to run away from her traffickers and to talk about her experience.
Though Therese managed to escape, she now faced new hardships. Like many other trafficking victims, Therese found she had to start a new life without resources and without knowing where to turn for help.
That’s why our partner turned to us. At Safe Horizon’s Anti-Trafficking Program, we offer trafficking victims years of expertise coupled with real tools and services they urgently need. In Therese’s case, the first thing she needed was a safe place to live. We turned to Safe Horizon’s shelters program to help, and in just a few hours, we were able to provide Therese and her son a safe haven with us.
Once Therese was in our shelter we could then help her find the resources to build an independent life - not as a trafficking victim, but as a free person. We supported her by providing counseling so she could cope with what she and her son had been through. Then, we talked with Therese about something she really needed: The chance to get back her freedom and her life.
Thanks to our help, Therese told us that she felt more stable and finally felt safe. She also told us how angry she was about what happened to her and how she wanted to do something to stop her traffickers. Thanks to our legal staff, Therese reported her traffickers, and then began working with federal law enforcement to investigate and build a case against them.
If you met Therese today, you’d meet a confident, independent woman who has worked hard at moving forward with her life. Therese feels a part of her community now, and her son has just started school. Most important, Therese’s life is filled with opportunities. And it’s thanks to people like you that our Anti-Trafficking Program was there when she most needed assistance, giving her the chance she deserved to earn her freedom, her safety, and a better future for herself and her child.