From modern slavery to a normal life: Loretta's story

From modern slavery to a normal life: Loretta’s story

  • Published on
    May 2, 2024
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    Survivor Stories
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What began as an invitation to work as a caregiver for four children living in the U.K. turned into what Loretta now knows as a form of modern slavery. Luckily Loretta was brave enough to find a way out and she shared her story of survival in a recent interview with the BBC.

“When we got to airport, her behavior changed…”

Loretta was working at an IVF clinic in Nigeria when a client approached her with an offer to move with them to the U.K. and help look after their four children for the next six months. At the end of that time, they would renew her visa and, with the money saved from her wages, she would be free to pursue her dream of higher education. The offer was attractive, so with her parent’s support, Loretta agreed. However, when they reached the airport in Lagos, ready to fly out to the U.K., Loretta noticed a change in the mum, she became more overbearing and aggressive.

Once they reached the U.K. things only got worse. Her passport was taken, and Loretta was expected to work 24 hours a day, 7 seven days a week with no breaks. On top of that, month after month she didn’t receive any pay for her work. So, as the end of the six months approached Loretta mustered up the courage to ask about renewing her visa, as planned. If nothing else, at least she could still pursue her dream of an education. But she was told they were not going to renew the visa, there was a new plan.

Loretta said her employer told her:

“I’m just to keep working with them for years and I haven’t even been paid. This wasn’t the plan at all. I was shocked! I said no, I have a future. I have dreams and this is not what we agreed on!”

Loretta really started to worry, she knew overstaying your visa was illegal, but without her passport she was stuck. She also had no idea that what was happening to her was wrong, even illegal, and it has a name: modern slavery.

“At that point, I knew that I’m in very big trouble”

At that time Loretta still had internet access and she knew one person on Facebook from Nigeria who had experience living in the U.K. He told her what they were doing was wrong and called modern day slavery. Loretta was horrified and then immediately asked her host family to give her passport back; she just wanted to go home. But even that was met with violence and threats from the husband.

Loretta said:

“He was threatening me that he was going to call the police. I told him, okay…call the police, the police will ask me what I did (and) I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m only telling you I just want to go back to my country.”

It was at that point that they cut Loretta off from the internet.

“They knew that what they were doing was not right”

Loretta’s host family began to worry when they realized she was likely seeking help outside their home. They knew what they were doing was wrong and that Loretta would call attention to them, so they finally agreed to let her leave. With only her laptop and school bag, during the COVID pandemic, Loretta was almost free. They searched her bag before she left, stealing her phone and throwing her passport at her as she walked out the door. With no idea where to go or what to do, Loretta found her way to a police station.

Loretta recounts:

“I was scared because I didn’t know what was going to happen next. I didn’t know where I would be going, and I was frustrated! I couldn’t believe this was happening to me, these were people I trusted.”

Loretta was connected with Migrant Help, a charity that supports survivors of modern slavery. From that point, Loretta feels her life started to come back to normal. She got a job and began to start a new chapter. Shortly after, a staff member from Migrant Help asked her if she would like to join their team as a Trustee to ensure migrants with lived experience of modern slavery were part of their strategic planning and conversations. Loretta gave them an emphatic “yes” as she had been looking for a way to give back to people she saw as so instrumental in helping her. In addition, she wanted to be part of helping others who were trapped in modern slavery and help them find what she had finally found — a normal life.

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Kiki Lindenau
22 days ago
Reply to  cheryl

Thank you for your question, Cheryl. Unfortunately, we don’t have any information one what happened to the perpetrators. There is an incredibly low conviction rate for cases of modern slavery, so it would not be surprising, if they were not arrested. Of course, we sincerely hope that they were!

In solidarity, Kiki

cheryl
cheryl
23 days ago

What happened to the people who she worked for?Were they arrested?

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