How a powerful story of surviving human trafficking can help others

An expert says that a Windsor woman's story of surviving human trafficking could encourage others to come forward.

Victoria Morrison spoke publicly about being held captive, forced into the sex trade

Shelley Gilbert said survivors of human trafficking sharing their stories help others find support during their recovery process. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

The story of a Windsor woman who escaped a horrific ordeal where she was forced to work in the sex trade and held captive for months could inspire others that find themselves in a similar situation, says a coordinator of social work services.

Victoria Morrison spoke publicly for the first time this week about how she escaped a man who took her to Winnipeg and forced her to perform sexual acts with 50 people over the span of a few months. 

Shelley Gilbert, coordinator of social work services at Legal Assistance of Windsor (LAW), believes Morrison's decision to put her face to the story will help others. 

"People going through this now might be able to look at her and say 'Okay, this is a young person like me, this is a woman like me, this is a survivor like me and I'm going to try what she's done," said Gilbert, who works with the WEFiGHT initiative, a program that provides direct services to victims of domestic and international human trafficking.

'They are our neighbours'

Gilbert was by Morrison's side when she shared her story with CBC Windsor Monday and was moved by her strength.

At one point Morrison said she wasn't sure how she would move on with her life if she didn't have the support of groups like WEFiGHT.

Victoria Morrison said she hopes by sharing her story publicly that it will inspire others in her shoes to reach out for help. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

"That was very, very kind of her and I don't know at this point if she's recognizing the strengths that she really has and the skills that she has," said Gilbert. 

Gilbert said it's important for people to see that Morrison is able to take control of her life moving forward while being a member of the community.

Shelley Gilbert with Legal Assistance of Windsor says these stories inspire others through the healing process. 0:58

"My hope would be again that people are recognizing that yes, this is something that is happening in our community," she said.

"These are individuals that deserve the expertise and the ongoing support necessary so they can be contributing members to our society again. That they are our neighbours, they are our sisters - they are people that we care about."

Tools to prevent human trafficking

Gilbert said that Morrison's story, specifically how she escaped, could be an inspiration for others to use their strengths to move forward after surviving something so horrific.

"One of the most important things is for people to be able to develop a relationship with somebody they believe can help them and help them reach some of the goals that they want," said Gilbert. 

"Sometimes this is the first time in a long while our survivors have had a chance to make those decisions and develop their own strategies to move forward."

Gilbert said groups like LAW and WEFiGHT work with survivors to develop their own healing process and offer assistance ranging from securing stable housing, mental health supports and navigating the legal system.


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