*Trigger Warning - mention of trafficking, sexual assault and exploitation.*

Eva* was born and raised in a small village in Northern Albania in a family of four children where money was tight. Her mother worked in agriculture and her father worked in construction but was often unemployed. They did not have much land and could not grow their own vegetables.

Coming from a traditional Albanian family with strict family roles, Eva had to defer to her father in everything and seek his permission for anything she wished to do. Her father was very strict and would beat Eva, her siblings and her mother if they failed to obey him, or if money issues became particularly stressful. Her mother never reported her father to the police or sought medical help for her wounds, and she did not allow the children to tell anyone about the violence within their family.

While Eva was still at school, which she completed at age 18, she met a boy called Altin, who she would chat to after school on Facebook. When her father discovered this, he forbade her to use the computer and beat her so badly that she was taken to hospital. She refused to tell anyone about her father’s violence, but she did use her mobile to call Altin and tell him what had happened.

They continued, over the following year, to call each other when Eva’s parents weren’t home. Altin told Eva that he had a sister and mother living in the village, but that he himself was working in Italy. When he visited his family, she was able to meet him and he promised to marry her and, following the wedding, move to Italy together. Eva confided her plans to her mother, who told her that her father would never allow her to choose her own husband.

Some time later, Altin finally suggested that they escape to be together. Eva took her passport but did not take any clothing, and the pair stayed locally for a few weeks in a hotel before making the journey to Italy. Eva would not leave the hotel in that time, because Altin told her it was too dangerous and that her family might find her, so she spent most of her time alone before Altin returned with food and gifts.

When they arrived in Milan, they went straight to his apartment and settled in before Altin left to get some food. He returned a while later, drunk and with other two boys. They started joking about her, before starting to push her around. That evening Eva was raped by all three of them.

After that night, Eva was kept locked in a room and was subject to abuse multiple times a day. She was later taken on to a different place and forced to work as a prostitute on the street. There was no chance of escape, even outside of her locked room, because she was always followed and watched.

Eva had her mobile phone on her and, one day when Altin left the flat, she contacted her friend from school, explained what had happened and asked for help. She was advised by her friend that she would have to go to England for help. Eva never called police because she feared the repercussions. 

The following day, when Altin left, Eva found her passport and fake Italian ID card (which used a fake name) and got a taxi to the nearest place where she could sell her jewellery, before heading straight to the airport. She was stopped when she tried to travel with her fake ID, and as a result they kept her for two hours and before letting her go. She was too scared to tell the Custom Officers that she had been trafficked.

After she left an airport, Altin found her walking along the road. He beat her badly in punishment and took back to the flat, where the nightmare began again; she was raped repeatedly by his friends and had to work on the streets once again.

During the day she was still left alone in the flat. She found her mobile phone and called her friend again, who advised that if she could get to Belgium then he would help her to travel to England so she could seek help.

She escaped once again, this time through the window, and returned to the airport, this time using her passport to buy a ticket, and was able to reach Belgium. Her friend helped her with finding a hotel and provided her with a with fake Spanish passport, which she then used to travel to England.

At customs, Eva told the officer that she wanted to claim asylum as soon as she landed in England. She could not return to Albania for fear for her life; her family would never accept her back and Altin would re-imprison her. She told her story to the police, and the Home Office provided her with accommodation and support. She was referred to the Salvation Army and on to the NRM.

Eva is now receiving support from both NASS and Migrant Help. She has had counselling sessions with Still Water at the Medaille Trust, is starting ESOL classes and other activities at Hibiscus and been provided with clothing and financial support from Migrant Help. She has an allocated adviser with us, and Eva is aware that if she needs more support and assistance, she always can contact her case worker and solicitor. Migrant help is also supporting her with regular outreach meetings, helping her to apply for further counselling sessions and accessing medical care.


*Alterations have been made to the personal information of the subject to protect their identity