A child trafficking survivor has made an appeal to the United Kingdom’s government to scrap Part 5 of the harmful Nationality and Borders Bill which is currently being debated in the House of Lords.
In an anonymous article published by the Independent, they explained how they would have been excluded from support had the bill’s provisions been in place when they were seeking help.
“My abusers told me no one would believe me if I spoke out”
The anonymous survivor was groomed at just 13. By the time they reached 18, they were facing regular sexual exploitation.
In the Independent, they explain how their traffickers’ manipulation made it extremely challenging for them to seek help:
Eventually, you believe the physical attacks and sexual assaults will never stop, so you rationalise the conditions as “normal” just to get through each day. I had to unlearn survival thinking; it cannot be eradicated overnight. Yet, professionals were not always patient as I struggled to provide detailed accounts of the abuse I had suffered. […]
In my case, my abusers told me no one would believe me if I spoke out. I had been cut off from support, lacked trust in the authorities, and still felt trauma bonds with my perpetrators after years of manipulation. I was at a crisis point when I sought help, and it took months before I was ready to share all the details.
Even when survivors feel able to seek help from authorities, they face further challenges. Most appeals for support from people who the government has identified as trafficking survivors are partly or completely rejected. This particular survivor had to wait over eight months after reporting abuse for safeguarding to be put in place.
Why Part 5 is so harmful
Part 5 of the Nationality and Borders Bill would make it even harder for survivors of modern slavery to access the support they need to recover and better protect themselves from further exploitation.
One particularly harmful component of Part 5 is the so-called “trauma deadlines” it would impose, whereby certain victims could see their access to support restricted if they fail to disclose details of their exploitation within a set timeframe.
As this survivor’s testimony shows, the nature of trauma and the psychological manipulation that many victims endure mean that coming to terms with what has happened is often a long and difficult process. Imposing deadlines on disclosure will result in many being excluded from protection and support.
As this anonymous contributor says, “[Survivors] already defy the odds to come forward and seek help. Adding more restrictions on getting support will undermine the trust of survivors even further.”
Call on the government to #ScrapPart5
Freedom United is alarmed at the Home Office’s willingness to trample survivors’ human rights in the pursuit of immigration objectives. As a community, and with our partner After Exploitation, we are rising up against this shameful bill.
If you are based in the U.K., join us in putting pressure on MPs to raise your concerns about Part 5 with members of the House of Lords. Write to them today.