Human Trafficking Survivor Restores Hope on the Frontlines

Caroline sits at her desk ready to give hope to other human trafficking victims

Caroline Pugh-Roberts is one of millions of men, women and children who have fallen into the hands of traffickers. Today, as a survivor and educator, she works with other victims at The Salvation Army in London, Ont., to not only help them live but flourish.

“I didn’t realize I was being trafficked,” says Caroline. “I had lost my husband in a tsunami when we were in Thailand, then my mother and two best friends, all within six months. I was vulnerable and needed someone to tell me everything would be OK. That’s when it all started.”

“I had nothing left but my pimp. He had become my world”

Caroline’s pimp was a friend of a friend. Before long, she was living with him, enamoured by his love and care. Then one day there was a knock at the door. They were being evicted. It was now her turn to ”take care” of the family.

“I worked in strip bars, massage parlours, parks and motels,” says Caroline. “By now, I had no identification or social circle. I had nothing left but my pimp. He had become my world.”

“The Salvation Army literally saved my life”

When Caroline protested, she was beaten and tortured. One day, he broke all her toes so she wouldn’t escape. That’s when he started bringing men home. She tried numerous times to run away, but her pimp always found her.

“The third time I ran away, I went to The Salvation Army’s shelter,” says Caroline. “They gave me a roof over my head, food and security. Through them, I found a safe house and lived there for four months. The Salvation Army literally saved my life.”

Caroline doesn’t know what happened to her trafficker and chose not to charge him.

“I want to use my energy to be constructive and productive,” says Caroline. “I work at The Salvation Army as a peer support worker, exclusively with trafficked persons. My goal is to help the women feel human again.

“I am a living example that there is life after trafficking”

“I am a living example that there is life after trafficking. When I came to The Salvation Army, I was emaciated, dehydrated, hungry, scared and alone. Today, thanks to them, I love getting up in the morning and have tossed my ”invisible chains.“ I want to show others they can do that, too.”

For more information on The Salvation Army’s anti-human trafficking efforts, click here.

By Linda Leigh