“E"* was born and raised in rural Central America. She had a happy childhood. But by the time she was 11, she and her two younger siblings were orphans.
At 14, E dropped out of school. She moved to a big city in search of better work to support her brother and sister. A friend told her about a job with a wealthy family. But she soon learned that her employers were involved in organized crime.
They trafficked people, weapons, and drugs. She witnessed terrifying violence. And then the father, a man with exponentially more power than her, sexually assaulted her, telling her that she belonged to him and that the first person he would have killed if she tried to leave, was her younger sister.
The family began forcing her to have sex with men for their profit. She was taken to the U.S., where she was further from her family and a foreigner who didn’t speak the language.
After years of this torture, E decided she would rather die than stay. She had to be free, one way or the other. She escaped with nothing but a blanket and a pair of house slippers she was wearing. She was brought to the Restore Safehome, which she says, “immediately felt like home.”
The Restore community walked alongside her during a difficult healing journey. Desperate to escape the pain, E tried to take her life. When she woke up in the hospital, her Restore counselor was sitting there waiting at her bedside, "smiling and holding my hand." In that instant, E knew what love was and started regaining hope.
She’s never turned back. Today, E is working, on her way to getting a T-visa, attending a church and a survivor support group, and raising her voice for other victims and survivors. At Restore NYC, we're most proud to call E a co-worker. In September 2018, she bravely shared her story with nearly 300 guests at our Freedom Gala, declaring: "So I wanted to raise my voice for other women: You're not alone."
*E’s name has been changed for confidentiality purposes.
We partner with Restore NYC to help place survivors in sustainable, life-giving, safe employment through their innovative worker-owned cooperative. We do this so that woman like E can overcome abuse and exploitation and walk freely in a new opportunity. You can find out more about Restore here.