link to photo source: Scott Ableman.
Penny’s father was extremely distant, inattentive, and did not provide for her basic needs, such as buying her an adequate amount of food. As a result of his actions, her mother developed a drug addiction as a way to cope with her life with him. When she started feeling alone at home, Penny (name changed) scanned social media for someone to connect with. At only 15 years old she began talking to 19-year-old Mark (name changed), who gave her what she was looking for, which was a lot of ‘love’ and attention. Penny did not expect that love to be just a facade.
Mark suggested they move their conversations to Whatsapp. As their relationship progressed, Mark offered to meet Penny at the mall. After a series of meet-ups, Penny felt that she truly loved Mark and that he loved her. He convinced her to join him on a “romantic getaway” on the Amazon River.
When they reached a neighboring country, Mark immediately changed. “If you love me, you are going to start working for me,” he said. He made two demands very clear: one, she would deliver drugs to various drop off points, and two, she would offer sexual services to anyone who wanted it.
Feeling that she needed to comply out of love, Penny endured this lifestyle for nine difficult months. As the ninth month came to a close, Penny was rescued by the local law enforcement. She and her new baby daughter were free.
The O.U.R. Aftercare Team met Penny and her daughter at our partnering aftercare home. They took Penny on a community outing, where she got to dress up her daughter and go to dinner with some other survivors in the home. While they were on the outing, she shared with our team about her dream of going back to her home country to build a new life for herself and her daughter. Our team discussed with her various ways we could support.
The aftercare home helped Penny identify extended family members that were safe and desired to help her through this next stage in her life. Through our generous donors, we were able to purchase a boat ticket for Penny and an accompanying social worker back to her home country! Our Aftercare Team also coordinated with one of our other partners to meet her at the drop-off point to help her have aftercare services in her home country.
We are so grateful for our donors that allow us to help survivors like Penny in holistic aftercare services. We strive to meet every survivor where they are at and empower them to have every chance to pursue the life of their dreams.