Ottawa victim of human trafficking speaks out: 'you are numb'
An Ottawa woman is speaking out to CTV, telling her horrifying and haunting story of being the victim of human trafficking.
Simone Bell was just 21 years old when she claims she met the wrong man.
“You don’t have to be physically tied down to be held hostage,” says Bell.
She was quickly held captive, drugged, raped and abused. Controlled by fear, “at first you are scared and petrified,” said Bell, “but after a while, after so many abusive situations, you are numb.”
“Someone who is in a hostage situation, someone who is being raped, and someone being abused, a domestic abuse case; take all three of those things and repeat them daily. Day after day after day, and you have a victim of human trafficking.”
The young woman was then sold for sex to men between Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Niagara.
She says, girls as young as 13, are being victimized. They’re sold not on street corners, but instead on websites on-line. The women and girls are made to have sex with men at hotels and so-called ‘bedroom brothels’ in suburban neighbourhoods like Kanata and Barrhaven.
“These are family men that are calling you at seven and eight in the morning to come see you before they go to work or on their lunch break.”
She calls herself one of the lucky ones who was able to escape. She saw a window of opportunity and eventually fled her pimp with just the shirt on her back.
Now she’s working with police and health workers to identify and save other girls. Her goal is to give other girls hope and let them know there are options. Many of the victims, she says, are so manipulated they don’t even realize they are victims.
She’s working with groups like [free-them], an Ontario based organization, raising awareness about human trafficking in Canada.
“It could be your own daughter, and if you didn’t know what to look for and how to respond and how to help, how can you fight that?” says [free-them] Founder, Shae Invidiata, “so raising that awareness and education is a huge part of this.”
Invidiata says if they can save one girl, they’ve achieved success. The organization works with police departments around the country, training them to identify and support human trafficking victims.
[free-them] is holding a “Freedom Walk” in Ottawa on Saturday, September 27, 2014. They hope members of the public will join them to find out how then can identify victims and predators. The event gets underway at 9am. For full details and how you can join: http://freethem.ca/
For more information about how to identify victims of human trafficking visit http://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/recognizing-the-signs