Found in the Sex Trade: Milena's Story
She met her in drug rehab. Milena had finally made the choice to get help and get off drugs. She had gotten clean through a center in the Netherlands, found a job, got her own apartment and was on the way to creating a new start and a new life for herself.
Not long after she began heading in a healthy direction, a friend from rehab called her. She wanted to have coffee and catch up. Milena traveled to a nearby town to meet her old friend. But what she didn’t know was her so-called friend had ulterior motives.
While they were having coffee together, her friend slipped something into her drink. Within minutes Milena was feeling dizzy, confused and disoriented. Before she knew it, her consciousness was slipping away and Milena blacked out.
Once she was unconscious, the old friend put her into her car and transported her to an apartment across town. For the next few days, Milena entered the horrific cycle of being drugged and raped repeatedly by people she had never seen before.
Milena didn’t know it, but she had just been forced into the sex trade. On one occasion while feeling mildly sober from the drugs being forced on her, Milena made an attempt to run away but was unsuccessful.
One night a client came into the apartment and began questioning why she was covered in blood and injured. Milena bravely explained to him what had happened to her and he was able to help her get out of the apartment.
Shortly after that, she was connected with A21 and Milena entered our transition program in Bulgaria. She was determined to start a new life and stayed in our home for several months, working through the program and attending counseling.
When she felt ready, she moved out of the home and got her own apartment. With the help of A21, Milena started cleaning homes and became A21’s first employee in our Liberty Cleaning company. Liberty Cleaning started in November 2013 and continued to grow as we met survivors who found the job opportunity to be a good fit. The goal of Liberty Cleaning is to provide jobs for survivors who are working toward an independent life and create income for people who might be vulnerable to trafficking. Today, Milena now lives in her own apartment and is fully financially independent. She is a leader and an inspiration to other survivors who are just starting on their journey to recovery.
*A pseudonym was used to protect Milena's identity
A21 is a nonprofit organization fueled by radical hope that human beings everywhere will be rescued from bondage and completely restored. They work in 11 countries around the world, 7 of them focusing on fierce intervention and six of them provide restorative aftercare. We are proud to partner with A21 and support their life-saving work.