This interview with a former resident was held in honor of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. This conversation was conducted and translated by Dayana Eugene, a host community member of LifeWay Network.* This year’s theme for the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons focuses on how survivors lead the movement, the critical role they play in ending exploitation and harm, the road to recovery, and beyond. As such, we sat down with Y (She/her/hers, not her real name).
Tell us about yourself!
Good afternoon, my name is Y. I am a mother of 3. I came to America looking for a better life for my children and my family.
(When) You resided at LifeWay, what was your favorite part about LifeWay?
My experience at Lifeway was very beautiful. The community gave me a lot of love. I met very good people, very loving, affectionate, and very understanding. Many people supported me when I needed it the most. The community was always there for me. When I couldn’t go to sleep at night, the Sisters would stay up with me. I met some religious Sisters that encouraged me to keep moving forward and with love, I was able to regain my strength that I felt I had lost.
Life after LifeWay?
She is now caregiving for (her) cousin’s children.
To help address the challenges faced when attempting to receive help from professionals–How can professionals in various fields (i.e. law enforcement, legal, health care) avoid revictimization?
I experienced a lack of communication. When trying to get some orientation about where to go to get some help, some were unable to support me. This led to me feeling stressed out and anxious. I needed to go to a physician because I was not feeling well, but I was not able to get any assistance. Most importantly, I needed to get a mammogram (I have lost two siblings to cancer), but I could not get anyone to help me schedule an appointment with a physician that accepts patients that are undocumented and have no health insurance coverage. I have had to do many things on my own without receiving proper guidance and did not always know how to navigate the system. I am still learning.
I have the absolute support of my lawyers and counselor. They have helped and supported me a lot. I really feel supported by them.
From your perspective, how would you suggest the public take action?
It is important to have good communication with the survivors. Provide the survivors with love, support, the tools necessary, and guidance so that they can learn to fly on their own. Show them understanding; give them encouragement instead of being dismissive. Some of the people that are supposed to be working with the survivors (i.e. volunteers, employees) treat them as if they are not important, but there are those that are loving, understanding, and compassionate they try their best to help uplift the survivors. The survivors know who those people are and are thankful for them. Please do not treat the survivors with indifference, it is hurtful.
*Broad translation. Information such as names of specific individuals and organizations was omitted out of respect for all parties, as was any extraneous information such as clarifying questions. Attention was given to maintain the overall substance and the insight of the interview.