La Voz de KY
In 2007 A Womanâs Pace learned about human trafficking â how to define it and who is affected by it. As Maria Almario told us, âOne of the most powerful weapons you can use on somebody is trust.â
That yearRandi Ewing from La Voz interviewed Eugenia. This is her story:
This is what happened to Eugenia. Originally from Zacapa, Guatemala, Eugenia came to the United States when she was 15 years old. She had been studying in Guatemala, when her sister called from Providence, Rhode Island to say that Eugenia had a scholarship to study in the U.S.
âWhen they told me, I did not like the idea, because I didnât want to go. I wanted to continue studying there, at least finish the year,â says Eugenia.
Eugeniaâs parents felt that she would have more opportunities in the U.S. and so her father took her to Rhode Island. The first month Eugeniaâs sister kept Eugenia and her father in the apartment. They never left. One day, her sister said to get dressed, that they were going to the school. They arrived at a large brick building. Inside a large room, several people were working and Eugeniaâs sister explained to her that this was her âschool.â
âShe told me it was my school, and I said, âBut this isnât a school.â And she said, âOf course itâs not a school. I didnât send for you for school. I sent for you so that you could work.ââ Eugenia remembers.
Eugenia began gluing stones to jewelry for a penny a piece from seven in the morning until after midnight. The manager refused to give her a break and made sexual advances. When Eugeniaâs father found out, he begged her to return to Guatemala, but her sister had threatened to stop helping their mother in Guatemala. When Eugeniaâs father left, things got worse.
âMy sister, when she would leave, she would take the phones . . . and leave me locked up, sometimes in the closet. I had to do all the housework, give all my money to her and then [a] man asked to marry me and she told him yes. So I tried to run away,â she says.
Eugeniaâs sister found her and brought her back to the house. Another man, Cesar, began giving Eugenia rides to work. Eugenia complained to her sister, saying she did not want to be around these men. One night, Eugeniaâs sister told her to go with Cesar to a friendâs house to retrieve a cake. When they arrived, the house was empty.
âSo he said that he had paid my sister for me and that she was in agreement. And that night he raped me, left me in the middle of the street, bleeding. He beat me repeatedly,â she says.
Eugenia was taken to a hospital and after hiding for months; her sister and Cesar found her and forced her to live with him. She gave birth to a girl. A year later she fled to North Carolina.
âIt was very difficult to choose between my freedom and the girl. Because I didnât want to be like that anymore. I had to flee, but I fled without her. I couldnât get her out. I tried many ways to get her out, so I wouldnât have to leave her there, but I couldnât do it,â she says.
Years later, she began therapy with a counselor at the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center in Lexington and her story came out. Her therapist told her she was a victim of human trafficking. Eugenia had never heard of that; she believed what had happened to her did not happen to other people.
She has shared her story, so that others might not suffer the same as she has.
For more information on human trafficking or to report a case please contact 1-800-656-HOPE.
A right is not what someone gives you; it's what no one can take from you.