Case study from The Salvation Army
Hai was held captive in an attic for around six years – he lost count after three years – where he was fed once a day and persistently sexually abused.
When the door was left unlocked one day, Hai managed to escape and was then found collapsed from exhaustion in a telephone box. After being taken to hospital, the police came and referred Hai to The Salvation Army.
On arrival at the safehouse Hai was cowed, compliant and totally vulnerable. He had no will of his own and was unsure of who he was or what he could do.
He had very few memories from his home country and no idea about money, shopping or domestic chores.
He regained his own self-will and his humanity.
Hai was accompanied to the shops, helped to work out meal plans, cook and taught life skills most people take for granted. The Salvation Army worked with its own Family Tracing Service and international networks alongside other agencies to try to find Hai’s family, but due to lack of information, they were unsuccessful.
Hai was supported to work with the police who continued to investigate his case and linked with counselling services to help him deal with his dreadful nightmares and other lasting emotional effects of his ordeal.
Staff spent a great deal of time helping Hai to build his self-esteem and confidence to a point where he was able to go out, feel able to build social networks and even move into independent accommodation.
With continuing support, Hai was able to secure an apprenticeship, which he hopes will lead to a permanent position once he has completed his studies. He has even met his first girlfriend and is settling well into his new life.
Reflecting on how Hai’s inhuman exploitation had reduced him to a state complete subjugation, his case worker said:
“The best moment for me was the day Hai paused and for the first time politely told us he didn’t want to do what we were suggesting for that afternoon. This was the day he regained his own self-will and his humanity.”