Eva is a 28 year old woman from South Eastern Europe. She was referred to the TARA service by Police Scotland over the 2016 Festive period. She is still currently supported by the service. Please note that some personal details have been changed to protect the confidentiality and safety of Eva.
Eva comes from a small rural town in South Eastern Europe. Her Father had regular employment and her Mother stayed at home to look after Eva and her siblings. Eva did well at school and she left home to go to University in the capital city of her country. She lived in student accommodation and worked in a café to fund her studies. She also studied English privately during this time. A regular café customer called Alek began to notice her and she entered into a romantic relationship with him, he treated her well and met her family back in her home town. He told her he lived and worked in a neighbouring country but was back to buy a holiday home. Around Christmas 2015 he proposed to Eva and suggested she consider moving to the other country with him where she could continue to study English and other languages. Eva told her family who, although wary at first, supported her to move with Alek. Eva already had a passport so Alek arranged their travel and they left her country in the late spring of 2016.
On arrival they told the authorities they were on holiday and they were allowed entry. Her phone stopped working so she was unable to contact her parents but Alek reassured her that when they got to his home she could call them. Whilst in a taxi he had a phone call and told Eva she would need to stay with a friend of his as he had been called away urgently but that he would come for her the next day. Alek took her to a house and introduced her to his 2 friends. That was the last time she saw him.
Almost immediately the two men told her that she would have to do as she was told and that she would be expected to prostitute. Eva refused but they kept her in isolation, assaulted and drugged her for 2 weeks until she felt she had no choice but to cooperate in order to survive. She planned to escape by ‘behaving’ and gaining their trust. There were other women in this house too but they were not allowed to speak to each other and were closely monitored. Eva would see up to 10 men each day but all arrangements and payments were made through the two men. They did not provide her with condoms but sometimes the men would bring their own. She believes some of these men were police officers and people in positions of power as she would over hear their conversations with the traffickers. After some time Eva was moved to another part of the country and exploited on the streets. Eventually she was told she would be taken to another country, possibly the UK, because they could make more money there. During all of this time Eva looked for chances to escape, she also worried for the safety of her family.
In October 2016 Eva was placed in a lorry and travelled for 3 days with another person. He would bring her food and water when the lorry stopped but she had to remain hidden in the back. When the journey finished they waited for a car which took them to another flat. She found out at this time she was in a Scottish city. Her situation was similar in that she was kept in a flat with other women but not allowed to speak with them in case they tried to escape. She had to see up to 6 men each day and was only allowed time off when she had her period.
Occasionally she was able to keep the change from take away food which she hid in her room (around £20) as part of her plan to escape. Following the Xmas period the men who controlled her were drunk and sleeping. Eva took the chance to escape and jumped from a first floor window. She ran for a while then hailed a taxi and asked the driver to take her to a train station. The taxi driver could see she was hurt and frightened and asked if she would like him to take her to a Police Station but she was too scared and insisted he take her to the train. He advised her to get the train to Glasgow. She got on the first train she could find and when she arrived in Glasgow, she flagged another taxi and started to cry, the driver recognised she needed help and took her to the nearest Police Station. He did not take any money from her due to his concern for her wellbeing.
Police Scotland referred her to the TARA Service who provided her with safe accommodation, intensive support and assistance. Eva described being in their care and the response she received from the police as like ‘being in a dream’.
Eva has continued to cooperate with the Police and now lives independently. She attends college and has made some good friends. TARA were able to ensure she could access legal advice and worked with her to help her feel safe. Eva continues to get support from TARA and attends the ANCHOR Service for psychological treatment from trauma. She still has pains from when she jumped from the window to escape and still worries about her family but is too scared to contact them in case she will put them in danger from Alek. She also worries too that if she returns to her home country Alek would find her and that other people would not understand, blame her and make her feel ashamed.