My Story of Agony and Hope

"At our shelter, we find understanding, community, and support." (Survivor, 2022)

There are approximately 20 to 30 million people being trafficked in the world today. I was one of them. When I was 18, I had dreams of going to law school. My parents moved to a new city, and I began working at a fast food restaurant to help my family. One day after my shift, I was walking home as usual when a car stopped at my feet and two men kidnapped me by force. They used violence; it was late afternoon, and for my bad luck nobody was walking by. They blindfolded me, and I found myself in the city of D. near the seaside.
That night the two men who had abducted me abused me physically, sexually and psychologically as well. The next morning they put me on a speedboat for Italy. As soon as we arrived there we met some other girls that were there for the same reasons. We all had to work as prostitutes in the streets. For sure I refused to work, but you would never believe what kind of persons they are and what methods they use to keep you feeling as a prisoner, as a victim. One time when I could hardly withstand the beatings, they threatened to kill my family and to kidnap my little sisters who were only children at that time, so I accepted the work.
They took all the money I used to earn. I used to work every night in the streets and used to earn enough money for them, or this is what I believed. But they were never satisfied and no deal to make with them was ever possible. So I started looking for ways to escape by myself. I hid myself in the house of a priest who had offered to help me and some other girls as well. He called the police in order to help us. We stayed at the police station one night, and they deported us back to Albania.
In the shelter I was able to get healthcare, counseling, and job training. They gave me the support I needed, and every woman in the shelter had her own story. Through AAGW I was able to take an advanced course in Italian and then I got a job working for an Italian telecommunications company in a different city. If it were not for AAGW and the shelter, I do not know where I would be today. We all need to work together to end sexual violence, exploitation, and human trafficking for the sake of our world. I believe that someday we will live in a world of equality, a world in which what happened to me will never happen to any other woman ever again. (D. F.)

Charity Name
AAGW (Association of Albanian Girls & Women)
Photo Caption
"At our shelter, we find understanding, community, and support." (Survivor, 2022)
Photo Credit
Robert Seitzberg III