My name is Nessa*, and I am a survivor of sex trafficking.
During my first night in The Casa, I was crying hysterically. I was 16 years old, and had just been tricked by people who told me I could have a job at a restaurant. Instead, I was brought to this brothel so strange men could buy me for a night.
The brothel owner became angry and wanted me to get to “work” right away. But I knew that what they were asking me to do wasn’t work. How did they expect me to react?
Each night, the girls would “beautify” themselves and wait for customers to arrive. The men who came to The Casa would pay the brothel owner and take us to nearby hotels for the night. When we got to the hotel, I was forced to endure unspeakable pain and humiliation.
But early one December morning, we woke up to the sound of knocking on the door. One of the managers thought it was a guest, but when she opened the door we were all shocked.
It was the police!
When they came in, I was so happy and I thought to myself, ‘Finally, this is the time we will be rescued from this darkness.’ However, as I looked around, I saw that the other girls were very nervous.
Some of the girls even told me that if they found out I had been working in The Casa as a minor, the police would send me to prison.
But I felt at peace, and I knew I had not done anything wrong. I was so excited to finally get out of The Casa.
In The Casa I was treated like a dog, like a puppy who is trained and manipulated. I was a slave. But when I was rescued, I was so happy that I could finally experience freedom!
IJM helped me begin my long recovery from this abuse, but very soon, a new darkness began creeping in.
I was losing my vision, and I became very depressed.
I am so grateful that my pain and despair was met with love. I could cope with the loss of my sight because I was surrounded by family and friends who loved and supported me. An IJM social worker even visited me at home and found a private shelter in Manila to help care for my emotional, physical and spiritual needs.
Most of all, I could not have done it without God in my life—for without him, I am nothing. I would rather lose my sight than God in my life.
I could compare my life before at the brothel to a withered flower, a tree with falling leaves. However, today I am a colorful blooming flower in a beautiful garden. All the leaves and branches are the people around me who are continually encouraging me and supporting me.
People like my family, who I am living with in a new house. We are together, we are happy, and we are excited about the future God has in store for us.
There is a girl just like me somewhere in the world who is wondering if she’ll ever be free from the brothel owners and traffickers who hurt her. She is scared, and she doesn’t want to go to “work” for a brothel owner, either.
Wherever she is, she needs to know that she’s not alone.