Case Study – Kim’s story
Over the last ten years my life has been turned upside down. I was taken from my home in Vietnam and trafficked with my teenage son. I was forced to work and then locked in a container and sold. I got separated from my son and when I arrived in the UK I was alone. I had no money or anywhere to live. All I had was the clothes I was wearing. It was very scary, but mostly I was terrified for my son who I think was also sold on.
I was taken from the container and forced to be become a prostitute. Every day I was raped repeatedly and made to work by men – I remember wishing my life would end. My torture went on for almost a year before I finally had the chance to run away. I managed to stay in hiding and sometime later I met a man who was kind and loving to me. It was difficult for me to trust a man after the nightmare I had been through, but over time I did and we eventually had a baby girl together.
Unfortunately soon after my daughter was born, the man I had met left me. Again I found myself without a home and alone, but this time with a baby girl to look after. I was very lucky though because a friend helped us, and allowed us to sleep on her sofa. That’s where we had been until I started to feel sick. I went into hospital to get checked out and was told that I had breast cancer. I was devastated!
It was while I was in hospital that I first spoke about my past with the staff there. They told me about Hestia and arranged for me to meet with someone who could help. That’s when I met Sarah – a Hestia worker who helps people who have been in situations like mine. Sarah helped me the whole time I was being assessed as a victim of human trafficking. She was there when I became very depressed over everything that had happened to me – especially the deep feeling of grief I felt after losing my son, and then when I was diagnosed with cancer. I wasn’t coping and it was all affecting my 2-year-old daughter, Nhu. She barely had any clothes and no toys of her own. It was an extremely difficult time for the both of us.
I was really lucky to have Sarah. She also put me in touch with a counsellor because I was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder; she helped me with my asylum claim, and even found me a solicitor through legal aid who would take on my case. She organised everything for us! I wasn’t able to go through with the medical treatment I needed to remove the cancer until I had somewhere permanent to live so Sarah made an emergency application for housing which thankfully was accepted.
My daughter and I are now living at a Hestia safe house with other survivors of modern slavery. Sarah still supports me and my little girl. She comes with us to each hospital and GP appointment, which really helps me deal with my depression and the effects of the cancer.
Having somewhere I can call home, I am now getting myself ready to go through the operation to remove the cancer. People have been so kind to us donating toys and books for Nhu. She loves playing with the other children at the safe house, and has even started speaking English with the children as she plays, which is lovely to see.
For the first time in years I feel as though my life has been given back to me. I want to start my life again here in the UK. Once the cancer treatment is finished, I plan to start studying in the New Year to fulfil my dream of becoming a hairdresser and I hope to get Nhu more settled and into a local nursery when she turns three. Until then I hope to take her to the local children’s centre, which Sarah found for us. None of this would have been possible without Sarah’s help and support.