modern slavery

Nina's story

Nina Christmas Pic

Nina* was 18 when she escaped the basement where she was being held captive by relatives and sold to visiting businessmen for sex.

As childhoods go, they don’t get much bleaker, but luckily for Nina, a sympathetic neighbour helped her escape.

Arriving in the UK scared and alone, Nina told the authorities of the years of abuse she had endured, and was referred into Causeway’s modern slavery safe houses.

“Coming to the UK was strange, but I felt free,” said Nina. “I felt like I could finally breathe. I could feel the air. I could feel the outside. I could see the grass. It was scary, but I was happy.”

Whilst Nina was happy to be free, she was also deeply traumatised by what she had experienced, and needed a lot of support in order to feel confident enough to face the future.

“I was scared to walk down the street because I was always thinking that maybe they know where I am. I couldn't look at myself in the mirror. I couldn't take a shower without hearing my abuser’s voice behind me. When I was in the bath, I felt like I was drowning.

“I could feel the tensions in my body and it was just too much. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I was trapped in my body.”

Nina’s feelings of shame and anxiety manifested itself in a desire to overeat and hide from the world.

“My whole life I was skinny,” she said. “I had never been able to eat what I wanted, and I hadn’t eaten properly for years. So when I got here freedom was new to me, and it took a bit of time to feel safe. So I ended up eating a lot of food. There was a KFC close by to where I was staying, and I would go there late at night and buy whole family baskets and just put them next to my bed, and that made me gain a lot of weight.”

For the past five years, Charlotte, Nina’s advocate at Causeway, has supported her in her recovery journey, until she is finally at a place where she is full of confidence and ambitions for the future.

“Charlotte has been there for me through everything,” said Nina. “Me and her, we’ve come a very long way, and honestly, I can't imagine my life without her. Through all the hard times, she's just been there for me, like all the time. Every single time.”

Nina is passionate about becoming her own boss so that she can feel in control of her time and her life. To this end, she is learning to code with the goal of becoming a software developer.

“When I came here, everything was new for me,” she said. “I didn’t know how to use a phone or a computer. I had to learn everything. I had to learn who I am. I didn't know anything about myself, but now I know that whenever I'm learning coding, I'm the happiest I've ever been.”

Nina is also on a fitness drive, and has lost over four stone by going to the gym and eating healthily.

“I feel like I’ve got to be my own parent. I don't have anyone else to look after me like that, so I started going to the gym, I started discovering my style, discovering how I like to dress, just finding out things that I really like without, you know, anyone telling me who I am, or what I am. I’ve started to see a lot of changes in me, and you know what, I feel good, I look good, life is just so good.”

Please support survivors of modern slavery this Christmas.

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