Bad Day? Maria had one too. Day after day, after day, after day…

Maria's story

I’m a 23 year old from Romania. I grew up in what would best be described as a slum, just outside Bucharest. My mum died when I was 13 and I was sent to live with my aunt in another village. It was in that village that I was sexually abused by my uncle.

A neighbour offered to help me escape to a new life in the UK - I hoped I would have a better life there.

I flew to the UK with three other women. I was promised work as a cleaner, but when I arrived I was driven to Glasgow and told I’d have to work as a prostitute to pay back my debts for passport and air travel.

I was forced to have sex with clients arranged by my captors. I was not allowed to leave the house unaccompanied and was only ever taken out of the house when being driven to a client’s house.

I didn’t get any money but had a basic place to stay - I was moved around a lot, staying in various places, and I was fed and clothed.

I was forced to dress up for pictures and videos and told to look happy. The men and women, my captors, advertised me for sale on the internet.

I knew I was being exploited and forced to have sex for money, forced to work long hours, being controlled all the time.

I eventually managed to escape by running away from a client’s house and flagged down a passing motorist.

I was helped by the Police and later by the charity TARA - having the opportunity to get counselling after all I’ve been through.

Disclaimer: Maria’s story is from true accounts from multiple trafficked individuals, merged and anonymized to protect their identity.

Victims are moved from address to address to avoid authorities picking up on what was going on.  Captors use various short term rental options, normally booked online, to avoid face to face interaction with Landlords.

Police Scotland support victims, deploying specialist Sexual Offences Liaison Officers (SOLO), to support them through the criminal investigation.

Further support is offered through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). Victims can received support from the Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA), getting emotional support, basic accommodation, clothing and the opportunity to receive counselling in relation to the trauma experienced.

If you believe someone may be a victim of traffickers or of sexual exploitation please contact Police Scotland on 101 or contact the Modern slavery helpline on 08000 121 700.