Anya's story


Anya is a survivor of modern slavery, and credits her young daughter with helping her heal from her trauma and inspiring her to move forward with her life.

However, it is Anya’s own strength that has allowed her to provide stability for herself and her daughter, and her own courage that means her future will not be defined by her past.

Anya’s determination to survive in the face of abuse and adversity is remarkable, and despite being exploited and terrorised by people she once considered friends, she continues to dedicate her life to helping others in her role as a support worker for disabled and vulnerable people.

It has always been her goal to help others, and as a young woman she travelled to the UK to study, dreaming of one day becoming a nurse.

However, her passion for caring for others was derailed by ‘friends’ she met from her home country.

“I met one lady at college who was also from Malawi,” said Anya. “We became friends and she introduced me to her boyfriend and his two friends. They said the student accommodation I was staying in was charging too much and that I should live with them. I was grateful.”

In behaviour common to traffickers and abusers, Anya’s ‘friends’ began isolating her from her support network.

They persuaded her that her existing friendship group were bad people, and encouraged her to hand over her documents so they could ‘help renew her visa.’

The visa never materialised and the documents never returned.

Without her visa, Anya lost her job, her college place, and faced deportation. She was also completely reliant on her ‘friends.’

“That’s when they changed,” said Anya. “These people whom I had trusted, cooked with, eaten with, turned on me. They beat me and only fed me their leftovers.”

Anya’s abusers found her work, but used fake bank accounts and IDs to divert her wages, so she never received a penny.

She was also forced into prostitution.

“One day a man came to the house and I was told to make him happy,” she said. “That became my new way of living. I didn’t want the pain, so I just did whatever they wanted to stop them hurting me. When they told me to go and shower, I would know what was going to happen. A man would be coming.”

The years of abuse became so bad that Anya tried to take her own life.
“I felt like there was no way out of it except dying,” she said.

The suicide attempts failed, but the stress of the abuse took its toll on Anya’s body. She developed a serious skin condition which her captors worried they would catch. They took her to hospital, and it was there that she made her escape.

“I was walking down a corridor, but when I looked back, the two men who were always with me, weren’t there. I started running.”

Anya entered the government support system for survivors of modern slavery where she was supported by Causeway.

Our case workers helped her address her post-traumatic-stress-disorder, and found her a job through the Bright Future scheme.

Anya is now living comfortably with her five-year-old daughter, who she calls her ‘miracle.’

“My daughter is the only important thing in my life,” said Anya. “I healed by having her. She is my miracle, my gift.”

As well as working as a carer for vulnerable people, a role she says is challenging, but one that she loves, Anya hopes to finish her education by studying to become a nurse or social worker so she can help others recover from pain and trauma.

“I want to make the world better for my daughter,” said Anya. “I want her to be proud of me, and I want her to have all the things I never had.”

Anya is also a member of a ‘Lived Experience Panel’ who advise researchers and policy makers on schemes affecting trafficking survivors. They are currently involved in helping to develop an app that allows survivors to input details of their experiences in order to improve support systems.

“I am proud to be contributing to something that could one day help someone who is in the situation I was,” she said.

“Maybe if there had been something like this around when I was being exploited it could have helped me. Just knowing that someone out there understood could have given me some hope.

“Sometimes when I look back at my life I can’t believe some of the things I have gone through, but now there are even times when I forget my trauma. I’m hoping that life will get better and better.”