*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality
“For me, as a survivor, I struggled with addiction coming out of exploitation. The root is often pain and suffering because you haven’t dealt with. The traumas you have suffered with. You haven’t developed the tools in the toolbox to help release those tensions. Instead of fight flight or freeze, you are in all three. It’s not that you don’t want sobriety or healing. If you’ve been in addiction for multiple months/years, it’s hard to just quit. If you don’t get to the root of the pain, you will continue to use substances and you’ll keep going around in circles. Substances help in exploitation, as it takes you to a different part of yourself – you lose yourself. When you pull yourself out and finally make the call to The Salvation Army, you learn to find the real you, the true you, that is loved and beautiful, strong, and courageous. Even though you have been through trauma, you deserve the very best, and I believe God has a purpose for you.”
“To find my authentic self means building a life that is mine and completely mine. With my experience in exploitation I often felt I had to look and be a certain way. When removed from that environment and accessing supportive programming at The Salvation Army, I realized so much about myself. A lot of what was ingrained in my character was to survive. With no longer needing those survival skills I am able to consistently discover deeper layers within myself. A new life full of interests, hobbies, and my own identity. A new value system built on integrity.”
“As a trafficking survivor, I want to tell other survivors that they can all join in the fight against human trafficking if they don’t stay silent. I want them to feel there is a hope, and they are no longer alone. They just need to believe in themselves. We all deserve a life of dignity and respect. We are not merchandise, or anyone’s property. To everyone hearing my voice, I survived, and you will survive. The world is waiting for us to explore and make a difference.”
“It was good to be at Illuminate. Trusting people has been so hard. I think to myself, why is this person talking to me? What do they want from me? It’s when people who try to help you out the most, you think they are trying to hurt you the most. I am actually happy to just have stuff at Illuminate- girlie stuff I don’t need but like, because I never had stuff. Like pony tail elastics, girlie bracelets, room decorations- that’s stuff! It makes me feel like I have a home, like I am a kid. When you have stuff it means you have memories.”
“Honestly, Illuminate helped save my life. Before Illuminate I felt lost, forgotten, worthless and alone. Moving from shelter to shelter and apartment to apartment for almost a year, until I found myself leaving everyone and everything behind except a few of my supports, living in fear fleeing from those who were supposed to care for me and keep me safe but instead wanted to find any reason to hurt me. I fought for my independence, to live on my own, and to start a new life with no help, thinking that my only option was that I was the one and only person who could help myself without support, or that maybe everything was building up so much in my life I would be better off not being alive. When the temporary safe house I was staying at told me about the Illuminate program I began to feel hope, like it was my only option at making it through life.
As I approached almost 4 months of being at Illuminate I knew that it was the best choice I had made in a long time. Illuminate went above and beyond what they had to, to make sure that I was safe, happy, and striving for something better than what I felt I deserved at all times. When I could not believe in myself the staff their made sure that I could put my trust in them, and that they would do the believing for me. They were able to provide me with a high level of support on a daily basis, connect me with outside resources that could help me, find me activities I enjoyed doing, as well as help me keep my supports from back home close.
When I went into Illuminate I felt like I deserved to hurt, like I didn’t deserve to live, but that didn’t stop the staff from reminding me of my worth and importance in life and the fact that I did deserve to live. I remember on many occasions the staff would challenge me well out of my comfort zone, regarding many things in my life I needed to change, and each of those times I would get mad, but then when I looked at what they were actually asking of me, I rose to the challenge and kept rising to the challenge until the day that I left.
After my stay at Illuminate I now feel like a different person, a person I never thought that I would get to see in my life. I have hopes dreams and a real desire to live for the future and to help others who are in or have been in my situation. Even after I left Illuminate they still provide me with Outreach support from talking on the phone with me, planning things out with me, to accompanying me back home for my perpetrator’s court hearing. I want to live, to strive to be better and better each day using all of my supports and coping skills that were started at Illuminate. I went from being alone, lost, scared, with no hope for life, to a girl who felt truly cared for. I will one day find my place in this world, with the knowledge that I need to face my fears to get rid of them, and with my many hopes, dreams, and exciting plans for the future. This is because the staff at Illuminate believed in me.”
“Illuminate is an incredible beacon of hope and a place of refuge for survivors of human trafficking. The staff at Illuminate are dedicated to bringing healing and restoration to all who enter their doors. I commend The Salvation Army for its relentless efforts to end modern day slavery of which Illuminate is an excellent example.”
“Illuminate provides an important service for BC and throughout Canada. Human trafficking and exploitation knows no borders, and when a victim is identified, safe, wrap around supports are immediately needed. Illuminate is a leader in Canada for providing rehabilitation for survivors of trafficking, and partnering on a national scale with law enforcement.”
“Illuminate saved me. I was lost but now I’m found. After the traumatizing events I felt hopeless. It’s funny how falling in love and trying your best to make someone happy, I realized I began to fall out of love with myself. I accepted the disrespect and the pain because I thought I deserved it. Being at Illuminate provided a safe welcoming environment. I feel like I can be my old self again.”
“Illuminate is a very important service provider for trafficked persons in British Columbia, especially for those who are at high risk and extremely vulnerable. Providing compassionate and trauma-informed care for both domestically and internationally trafficked persons, Illuminate fills a critical need in B.C. and across Canada. B.C.’s Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons values Illuminate partnership and collaboration to address the unique needs of trafficked persons in B.C.”
The inhumane treatment I encountered in Canada was far from what I had imagined when I arrived here. I kept telling myself “Don’t let the evil defeat you Lily, don’t lose your faith in God,” but I really struggled; escaping my trafficker seemed impossible! After I was rescued, the Illuminate program helped me stand again with confidence. As a result of the untiring support from the staff, I experienced physical, emotional and spiritual healing and now I am free!”
“Illuminate and the leadership of The Salvation Army in the field of human trafficking in Canada, is a vital partner for community coalitions and victim service organizations. Our firm has worked with Illuminate since 2012, liaising to coordinate survivor resident treatment and supports for women attending from Ottawa, including cultural considerations for Inuit survivors. They are also key partners in discussing joint projects, input on best practices and collaboration on victim services and case management training input to the Canada Police College Human Trafficking Investigator’s Course. Illuminate plays a critical role in providing the specialized short, medium and longterm rehabilitative supports needed for survivors, and with open arms, help communities to ensure safety and compassionate services for women in need.”
“I came to Illuminate fleeing my trafficker. I felt I had no choice, and was exploited for many years, trapped and completely isolated until I escaped. Illuminate has helped me put back the pieces of my life. Since being in the program, I have been able to heal and recover from my experience. I have improved my English, developed life skills, created multiple permanent art installations, received trauma counselling and medical care and even volunteered in the community. I am currently being supported by Illuminate to find a full time job, and am excited to start my life in the way that I want.”
“I came to Illuminate to find myself and heal. I built positive friendships, and It gave me time away from my trafficker and disconnect from bad friends and harmful people. After a month there I realized that what happened to me wasn’t my fault, and that my goals and dreams mattered. I am more than what I went through, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I just needed to start believing in myself. My dream is to be a flight attendant one day.”