Hamilton

Out of the Shadows: How Timea Nagy survived international human traffickers

When she was 20-years-old Timea Nagy-Payne, living in poverty in Hungary on the verge of eviction, answered a job ad to work as a babysitter in Canada. Her life would change forever.

Nagy-Payne's memoir Out of the Shadows was released in May

Timea Nagy, a victim of human trafficking, shared her powerful story of being forced into the sex industry at Thursday's police news conference. (CBC)

When she was 20-years-old Timea Nagy-Payne, living in poverty in Hungary and on the verge of eviction, answered an ad to work as a babysitter in Canada. Her life would change forever.

She came to Toronto but the work wasn't as advertised. Soon she was forced to become a sex worker, a victim of human trafficking.

Now she's telling her story in a new memoir, Out of the Shadows. It's a story that follows her from Budapest to Toronto where she was put to work for free in a strip club and forced into the sex industry.

"We were fed one meal a day," she told CBC Hamilton. "We were tortured emotionally and physically. We were raped more times than I can count."

It's a life she lived for three months until she managed to escape, thanks to the help of security guards and the DJ at a strip club where she was forced to work.

The book, which was released in May, "talks about the amazing miracles along the way and how I was given angels along the way, Canadian people who started taking me in like a family, raising me like their own."  

She said the experience made her want to help other victims. She created Walk With Me Canada Victim Services, an organization dedicated to combating human trafficking in Canada. It's a problem, she says, that happens more often than Canadians think. In 2012, Ferenc Domotor, the leader of what has been called the largest proven human trafficking ring in Canadian history was sentenced to nine years in prison. Domotor was sentenced after pleading guilty to being part of a criminal organization, conspiracy to traffic in human beings and coercing victims to mislead immigration authorities. 

As many as 19 victims, all from Hungary, were brought to Canada against their will, forced to work from dawn to dusk, held in basements and fed table scraps, the CBC's Aaron Saltzman reported prior to the verdict.

Nagy-Payne says she encourages victims to find someone to trust, get away from the trafficker and go to police. She says she wants to set up a program for survivors, so they can get work experience and classes on how to manage money.

"They get the help they need immediately but don't have an idea of what they need to get re-intergrated into society," she said. 

She encourages victims of human trafficking in the Hamilton area to go to Restorations Second Stage Home for help. According to its website the organization provides "specialized, long term, holistic care for victims of commercial sexual exploitation in Canada." 

Timea Nagy's book Out of the Shadows was released in May 2019. (Penguin Random House Canada)

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