Fiona shares insights from her journey and how to help others.
If you haven’t met Fiona yet, take a moment to read her story and discover her incredible journey from despair to hope. In addition to her story, Fiona shared the challenges she faced after rescue and suggested insightful solutions for future rescues based on her experiences.
Although she experienced victory in rescue, Fiona’s difficulties did not subside as she walked her path to freedom. Even though she no longer had to sell her body to survive, every day still brought unique challenges.
There was difficulty in creating boundaries with my old friends who used to come every day and try to get me back in the act of sex business,” Fiona said.
Girls in the sex industry can form strong bonds with one another, developing friendships through shared experience and understanding. Sometimes these bonds facilitate multiple rescues, as one survivor chooses a new life and her friends decide to follow suit. In other instances, this can create tension for children whose friends remain in the sex industry.
It can be difficult to step away from a known pattern of living, even if it’s destructive and painful. Survivors can face a range of addictive behaviours due to the trauma they’ve experienced, including compulsive use of alcohol, drugs or sex. Fiona struggled with urges to return to behaviours from her past life too, and she had to consciously deal with those impulses to ensure she was choosing to continue down the path she wanted for her future.
One of the principal obstacles for Fiona was housing. She had been forced into her life on the streets because she was on her own and had no other way to earn an income. Without income from the sex industry, Fiona was financially vulnerable.
Many survivors encounter the challenges Fiona shared after their rescue. Rescue is just the first of many courageous steps a survivor takes on her path to freedom.
With insight beyond her years, Fiona encouraged us to listen to survivors to understand their unique needs.
To help someone in the sexual exploitation, the person needs to understand very well from the girl, their reason for going into the sex business and address the exact need,” she said.
Survivors meet with their caseworkers and counsellors regularly after rescue. Staff work hard to understand each survivor’s unique circumstances, needs, preferences and skills. Girls attend trauma rehabilitation classes and other basic courses to lay a foundation for their next steps. Fiona noted that these classes and the discipleship class were particularly impactful.
Vocational training or education comes next, empowering survivors with skills and opportunities for safe employment.
Fiona specifically suggested programs that “create business which will not give room for being idle”, recognizing the stress caused by too much downtime and insufficient purpose. “Establish a daily income business or any sustainability project that can keep the girl busy,” she explained.
As I continued with the program, I started seeing a future coming in my life,” she said.
The deepest obstacle
In survival mode, a person is entirely consumed by basic, immediate needs because their survival depends on them. Decisions revolve around the next meal, immediate safety or finding a place to sleep. In this state, planning or even dreaming about the future is impossible. There is no mental space to pause and look ahead. What future is there to consider even if there was, if the next two meals aren’t even certain?
As Fiona spent time with us, she noticed a change in her perspective.
Pictured above: Food care packaged distributed by Destiny Rescue in Uganda
Girls in Uganda learning to sew
This story shares an incredible moment condensed into just a few words of self-reflection. Before, she was filled with despair. Now, she’s experiencing hope—which opened her eyes to something beautiful, incredible and full of promise: her future.
Helping survivors see a hope-filled future, giving them opportunities to start new, healthy lives and understanding their unique challenges while offering meaningful solutions are steps to empower significant change along a survivor’s path to freedom.
She chose freedom. Will you pave a path for others to do the same?
Her name has been changed to protect her identity. Her story has been gathered and shared with her input and informed consent. We are grateful for the honor of amplifying her voice.