When Samantha was fourteen years old, she met an older guy. She welcomed the attention she got from him since her home was not a happy place to be in. Over the course of an entire year, Samantha was wooed by his romantic façade and soon fell in love with him. He asked her to be his girlfriend and she said yes. She believed that he gave her something better than she could find at home with her family. What she didn’t know was that his persistence had an ugly side. She was unaware of his dark, ulterior motives.
One night he invited Samantha to meet him in a park. This park was familiar to her, so she happily met him there.
She walked up to his shadowy figure only to be met with a direct punch to the face. Before she could get up, he scooped her up and threw her in the back of the van waiting on the street. His van crew all took turns beating her until she passed out. She was unconscious the entire way out of the country.
“Where am I?” she timidly asked as she woke up, hours later.
“You are in another country in a place where your family will never find you.” Her eyes darted around the room. She saw a woman in her thirties. The main trafficker.
This woman’s job, along with the rest of her crew, was to break Samantha’s will. Samantha was beaten and raped daily. Their goal was to make her feel so worthless and helpless that she would never be found or feel loved by anyone again. “If you ever say anything or try to escape, we will kill your sister,” they said. They knew that even though she came from a difficult family, Samantha loved her sister.
After a few months of enduring this new horror, Samantha was stuffed in the back of the same van that had driven her into her new life. Fearful as ever, she expected to be killed. Instead, they threw her out of the van back into her home country.
This time, she was locked in a brothel room. She was now expected to serve any client that selfishly walked through that dreaded door.
With each day that passed by, Samantha felt she was losing more and more of her soul. There was a night where a client walked through the door, but something was different. The difference laid somewhere deep within Samantha.
I don’t know what came over me. I don’t know how I felt this source of strength, or where it came from. Maybe it came from others that were thinking of me and fighting for me that I don’t even know. I just felt this sense of strength.
“Please, let me escape,” she pleaded to the client, the man who came in to rape her. “I can’t do this anymore, I can’t go on living if this is what I have to do.”
She waited for his response.
The man had a moment of compassion and Samantha jumped on it. They devised a plan. He distracted her captors outside so that she could successfully climb over the wall and run free.
She jumped over the wall and ran down the street until she saw someone. In another moment of immense courage, breaking through the fear of being caught or having her sister killed, she asked a bystander for help. The woman immediately sensed Samantha’s fear and knew she needed to help her. She helped Samantha call the police and Child Protective Services and stayed with her until they came. This was the moment of Samantha’s freedom.
Samantha was placed in an amazing aftercare home that is one of O.U.R.’s newest partners. This home provided Samantha with every service she needed to help her on her journey of healing, such as mental health therapy, education, and vocational training. We are so grateful to be partnering with this aftercare home that holds the same core beliefs about aftercare that O.U.R. does. As the director of the home said, “When girls come into our home, they are family. We continue to help them feel valued and let them know they have so much worth.” When Samantha first arrived at this aftercare home, it was very challenging for her. But, the social workers and aftercare home staff were able to see a strong beautiful woman that had the courage to fight for her own freedom and for the freedom of others. Samantha is our hero.
We strongly believe in supporting aftercare homes as a whole, not just survivors that are rescued from operations that O.U.R. supports. Since the founding of our organization, we have been able to support over 2,000 survivors in various ways. This work is possible because of all of our generous donors. We are so grateful for everyone involved in the great work of fighting against trafficking. This is a fairly new country that we are working in South America, and it has taken almost two years to build relationships with law enforcement and vetted aftercare homes to prepare for O.U.R. to support operations there. We were able to support an operation there this past month. It is because of supporters like you that we are able to broaden our work and support incredible survivors like Samantha.
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Aftercare is one of the most important steps in our process. Learn more about O.U.R. Aftercare on our website.
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