Trafficked, by Sophie Hayes.
A book that highlights that anyone is at risk of becoming a sex slave. This is a true story of a 24 year old, middle class, English girl called Sophie who does what anyone else may do: trust a friend. Not just any friend, but someone that’s been there for her for about four years!
We live in a society where cultures are mixed, many of us are open-minded to developing friendships with people from all over the world. There really isn’t anything wrong with that. But, what Sophie highlights, is that it doesn’t matter where you are, who you trust, or how smart and independent you think you are, you are still at risk, and you need to stay aware.
Sophie talks in candid terms about her relationships with her family, friends, and boyfriends. She shows how things developed and became what they were. When her friend Kas offered to meet her in Italy for a few days, just to give her some breathing space from dealing with the break down of a relationship when her boyfriend was deported, she jumped at the chance (who wouldn’t?)!
She spent an amazing few days with Kas exploring Italy, and developing her relationship with him. She trusted him. Then the bomb dropped: he showed his true self to be a manipulative, violent, abusive twatbag that forced her into prostitution to pay for his lifestyle. Sophie explores her feelings, her experiences, and her fight for survival during the six months she spent in Italy (and, briefly, in France), until she plucked up the courage to risk pulling her Mum and stepdad into the drama to bring her home.
Strangely, it wasn’t what happened in Italy that really got me; it was feeling the relief, heartbreak, and gratitude when Sophie finally sees her mum and stepdad when they came to take her home from the hospital she’d admitted herself to in Italy that really had me tearing up. The family set up could have been anyone’s: a broken family that had learned to stay close despite a difficult upbringing. And probably felt stronger for it. And yet, Kas was still able to come between that when he threatened to harm the people she cared about, and ensuring she believed him capable.
The book continues to detail her journey home, trying to adjust to the fact she’d been trafficked, the people she worked with at STOP THE TRAFFIK, as well as learning to build friendships again. All this was jeopardized when Kas returned to the UK, despite there being a warrant for his arrest.
This is an incredibly gut-wrenching account of a real woman coming to terms with something that could have killed her and, had most certainly, shook her to her very foundations. But she has survived. She has fought to keep her life, her family, to continue to work, to rebuild her life, and become independent. She is now working to increase awareness of sex trafficking (charity) and offering her experiences for others to learn by.
What a wonderful, strong, and inspiring woman she is!