10/07/2024

Sabrina's story

Sabrina Still 3

 

Sabrina, 43, is a London-based entrepreneur, campaigner and mum-of-three.  She is also a survivor of domestic violence, grooming and exploitation.  

“My home life wasn’t good at all," she said. "There was a lot of domestic violence. We weren’t cared for or looked after in the way you expect children to be. I remember once waking up to armed police, it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced.  From a really young age I’d be running away from home. I just wanted to be out of that environment.”

As the eldest sibling, Sabrina often found herself particularly exposed to the trauma and abuse that was happening. Before she’d even turned ten, one of Sabrina’s family members began using her to carry drugs.

“A close family member of mine was a prolific drug dealer in the area. From about eight, they’d take me out and make me hold drugs for them. I didn’t even know I had drugs on me most of the time.”

A few years later, Sabrina and her sibling were taken into care, but when Sabrina was 16, she was moved into an adult hostel.

“I hadn’t even turned 17 when I was moved to live in a hostel with all these adults.  Looking back now, I was still just a child. I met a man who was living in the hostel, and we began a relationship. It was textbook grooming. He played the boyfriend role very well, but it’s only when I look back that I see he was manipulating and grooming me.”

Sabrina’s relationship became abusive. She was scared of her boyfriend, but felt isolated with no support network and nowhere else to go. He forced her to help his gang with their drug deals.

“The relationship became violent. My boyfriend would be really aggressive and threatening. He had weapons. I was first made to hide and carry drugs for them. I was then sent around the country doing drug runs across the drug supply network.”

Sabrina was arrested and sentence to three-and-a-half years in prison. 

“When I went to jail, I had three children at home. Not being able to be with them is the worst thing I’ve been through. It made me determined to turn my life around.  I worked on educating myself about everything that had happened. This is when I realised I’d been exploited, and began to understand what criminal exploitation is.”

When Sabrina was released from prison, she started volunteering with young people at risk of criminal exploitation and county lines. This led to a paid role, and soon Sabrina began building a career as a caseworker, focusing on at-risk young people and victims of exploitation.

Sabrina is currently studying for a postgraduate degree, and has set up her own business where she delivers training on county lines and exploitation to professionals that work with at-risk young people. Sabrina is determined to drive awareness around criminal exploitation, and create the change needed so others don’t go through what she did.

“I don’t want all of my experiences to be in vain.  Knowing my story could potentially help save the life of a young person gives me this extra drive to keep doing what I’m doing. Modern slavery and exploitation is hidden in plain sight.  It can take many forms, and it’s happening everywhere we go.”

Sabrina is sharing her story as part of Causeway’s Survivors: Life Beyond Exploitation campaign.  The campaign aims to educate the public about modern slavery, challenge stereotypes, and show the real people behind the statistics.

Please support the campaign by donating to Causeway and help us continue our work supporting survivors of modern slavery.