I wanted to share another Survivor’s story with you. It’s hard to read, but it sheds light on what we’re up against. Yes, Luminita has been rescued out of slavery but now she needs a safe place to heal. Our ultimate goal is to place women like Luminita in The Sanctuary, where they will have everything they need to heal in a safe place. We need your support to reach women like Luminita. You hold the key.
As told by Beni Lup, our partner on the ground in Romania:
Two years ago, when she was 20 years old, Luminita’s* cousin suggested she date a businessman visiting from another country. Luminita, believing she would be able to visit the man’s country for a nice vacation, accepted. She was a second-year Business and Management student at her local university in Northern Romania. She had great plans for her life.
A vacation in Western Europe with her new beau seemed like a luxurious adventure.
When the day to start the journey came, he drove a nice car to pick them up. They went downtown and took photos by the fountain in the main square. Suddenly, he stumbled and dropped her phone into the fountain. He fished it out, but the phone had already been ruined.
Luminita didn’t mind.
“The phone I had was old and had scratches all over,” she says. Her companion purchased her a new one, the latest model of her favorite phone. “It was exactly what I wanted. I never thought I would get one. I was very happy. He seemed so nice and gentle and I believed that we would make a great couple,” Luminita remembers. They continued driving west, stopping along the way and taking in the wonders of Europe.
When they finally reached the businessman’s home country, his demeanor changed. The boat that was sent to retrieve them was late, and the business associate wasn’t picking up his phone calls. Luminita remembers her surprise, “I saw another face of this nice man. He was speaking a different language and I didn’t know what he said to the other guy on the phone, but he was visibly angry.”
When his friend finally arrived, apologizing for his tardiness, the businessman asked Luminita to show his friend her new phone. She did so happily. It contained photos of the trip, the food they enjoyed, the hotels, the cities. She had even taken some sensual pictures of herself, which the businessman had winkingly instructed her not to show anyone else.
They went to spend the night at the friend’s hotel. It had a nice view, but it smelled of mold. The trip had exhausted Luminita; she was ready to sleep anywhere. The trio had dinner, and Luminita drank wine before going to bed. When she arrived in her room, she saw a set of red and black lingerie sitting on the bed.
“Put that on,” her boyfriend, the businessman shouted, “I will come back soon.” He closed the door.
The next morning, she woke up. Next to her, she saw the businessman’s friend naked. Fear gripped her. She threw up. As she was retching, the man woke up and slapped her.
"You are mine now, and it cost me a lot to get you. I can do whatever I want to you," he said in broken English. Horrified, Luminita fled the room and ran into the dining room. She saw four other women around the table. Dressed like prostitutes, they all looked pale.
"I had no idea that for the next fourteen months I would be dressed like them, abused by this ugly drunkard and by many other men. I had no idea that I would live in hell,” Luminita says.
One day, Luminita begged God to show her mercy. Soon after, she walked into a building in town to visit a client. When she entered the building, she saw a little sign with a phone number on it. She noted it quickly. Luminita used her client’s phone and dialed the number. When the operator answered, Luminita realized it was a hotline for people being trafficked. She quickly explained her situation. Within ten minutes, four police officers pounded on the door. They rescued her and placed her in an emergency shelter for Survivors of human trafficking.
Luminita is still in that shelter in Western Europe. We want to bring her home to Romania and place her with a long-term, supportive family where she can receive the love and services she needs to heal.
“I’m terrified to stay in this country,” Luminita tells us.
Ultimately, we want to place Luminita in The Sanctuary, where she can have access to all of the care and support that she needs. We want to get The Sanctuary open as soon as humanly possible! Hundreds of Survivors like Luminita need a safe place to go.
You hold the key to freedom for women like Luminita.
*name changed to protect Survivor identity