28 Oct Trafficked For Over 6 Years: Pamala Starts Over in California
When Pamala arrived in Orange County, all she had with her was one carry-on bag and her license. She had just fled her home in Ohio, where she left behind six years of physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse. A survivor of both domestic violence and human trafficking, Pamala had been forced to sleep with her trafficker, his family members, and his friends against her will for years. If she refused, she would be beaten until she complied.
Pamala found WTLC through a referral from the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Rescue America—an organization dedicated to helping sex trafficking victims—was able to purchase Pamala a plane ticket to California so she could come into our emergency shelter. “I was scared to go to California because I’ve never traveled outside of my city,” Pamala said.
At first, Pamala found it difficult to open up to her Advocates at WTLC. But as she began participating in the Personal Empowerment Program (PEP) and PTSD processing groups, she finally began to feel more comfortable talking about her experiences. Pamala said, “I was surprised to hear people had gone through similar abuse like me and I got close to another girl who also escaped sex trafficking.”
Pushing herself out of her comfort zone, Pamala continued to regularly attend PEP classes and the PTSD group, and as she got to know her Advocates and the other survivors, she found herself beginning to trust others again—something she hadn’t done in a very long time. With help from WTLC’s Shelter Advocates, Pamala applied for unemployment benefits and CalFresh, began searching for employment, and researched her housing options.
When Pamala left our emergency shelter program, she had been accepted into a transitional housing program and had begun working at a job near her new apartment. She was able to easily take the bus to and from work and had started a savings account to make sure she was secure in case of an emergency. “I know that I wouldn’t have been able to find a job and secure housing so fast without the help of WTLC and my case manager—I am so thankful.”
Although Pamala has transitioned into more stable housing, she continues to meet regularly with her Counselor at WTLC to process and heal from her past trauma, as well as her Legal Advocate to help navigate public benefits and pursue a restraining order. Pamala recently shared that her new job was going great—she just reached the end of her 3-month probationary period and is officially a full-time employee!