Trafficked – My Story by Sophie Hayes

Another heart-wrenching book. Makes me wonder why I read such stuff, and then reminds me that hopefully books like this will make me,at the very least, more vigilant and aware of things that could go wrong.

The true story of a British girl forced into the sex trade.

Sophie grew up in a troubled house. Her father had no love for his children, but her mother more than made up for her husband’s lack of interest. Her father’s disinterest and her parent’s eventual separation took a toll on her and it took her a while to come to trust men.

She started working, and was leading a regular life in Leeds, when Kas came into her life. He came as a friend, and stayed her friend for a while, even when he was away in another country. He would call and talk to her and she came to rely on him for a shoulder to cry on, for helpful advise, everything we would turn to our friends for.

At a stage when things weren’t working out for her, Kas suggested that she come over to Italy for a short holiday. Arriving in Italy, everything seemed perfect. Kas was gentle, caring, as he always was.

At the end of her break, when she was about to return to England, everything changed. Kas changed from the caring, gentle man, to a controlling person. He told her that he was in debt and she would have to help him – because he loved her, and that was the least she could do. She was supposed to sell her body to earn the money for Kas. She was told that if she tried to run away, her siblings back in England would pay the price, and he knew where they lived. He asked her to call home and tell her mum that she had decided to stay on in Italy. On hearing this, her mother told her that if she ever needed help, all she needed to say was ‘How’s Aunt Linda?’. That was to be her code words.

Terrified of Kas, Sophie worked the streets, braving dangers, believing that she could do nothing to escape. She got punched, hit , abused by Kas when she tried to protest. All the while, trying to remain cheerful whenever she called her family, so that they did not get suspicious. She lived in her own personal hell, not knowing who to reach out for help until she lands up in hospital and gets to contact her mother and asked after Aunt Linda.

Her mother and step-dad came to Italy and rescued her, but it took her a long while to feel safe. She was still terrified that Kas would follow her. She was right – he did come after her. Eventually he did get captured by the police. Even after his capture, Sophie’s horror was far from over. It took her a while to overcome what she went through.

It was a shocking, stomach churning read. Drives home the fact that it is indeed very easy for a person to get trapped into a situation like this. And in an abusive situation, the victim loses the will to fight back, and starts believing everything that the abuser says. Sophie was a regular middle class, educated girl, working in a good job, and yet, her emotional baggage made her vulnerable to Kas, who took full advantage of her situation. The assumption that trafficking mainly happens to poorer people in poorer countries is broken by Sophie’s story.

I have to say, I have immense respect for Sophie to have the courage and determination to overcome all that she faced and publicly talk about it. It took her five years before she felt safe enough to talk about her story. Reading her story was sickening enough, so I can’t even imagine how painful it must have been for her to relive it all for the book, but hopefully her story will make people aware of how vulnerable our own loved ones could be, and maybe watch out.

A heart-breaking story, one that makes you cry, but one, that I feel needs to be read. Sophie has set up a foundation – The Sophie Hayes Foundation raise awareness of human trafficking and modern day slavery. As they have mentioned, on the website,

Sophie’s story is a stark reminder that trafficking is not something that happens far away to someone else.  It happens everywhere.  Sophie is someone’s sister, she was one of the girls from your school, she is someone from your work.  Sophie could be you.

That is why, I feel, it is a book that needs to be read.

17 thoughts on “Trafficked – My Story by Sophie Hayes

  1. Thats a terrible situation to be in. Not only afraid for oneself but also for our loved ones. People like Kas should be punished so bad the lesson should reverberate in every harasser’s mind. Even here in India, we see so many people forcing women, even their own wives into sex. I wish and hope that women are brave enough to say no and fight back. But the only lingering question in my mind is, whom do we trust, if the ones we trust betray us? Who will guard the guards? How do we find out what the ulterior motive behind a friendly person is?

    • Kas did get punished -he was in jail in Britain and then was deported to his home country.. And hopefully heavy sentences will deter people from doing things like this in the first place.

      ‘I wish and hope that women are brave enough to say no and fight back’ – Abusers of this sort, know which people to pick on.

      Who will guard the quards – that is indeed a scary thought. Hopefully with more awareness, women will be more aware, and better prepared, and in case they do get involved in something like this, will know that help is at hand, if they need it.. But in countries like India, it might be so much more difficult to find help like Sophie got.

      • I agree. Scenario in India is damn scary. But women need to be educated and made to feel secure that no matter what, they can turn to one authority which will help them. But sad that there is no such authority.

  2. Such a chilling storyline that is! I can’t even begin to imagine what hell Sophie must have gone through.
    You are right – such books are indeed meant to be read, if only to make you more aware and sensitive about the issues in the world. They are not meant for ones with a weak heart, though.

    I always thought trafficking happened to very poor people, who were uneducated and did not realise the powers they had. I guess I am wrong on that count.

  3. It is a real story?? 😦
    Sometimes when I read such stories I feel why don’t these people protest and why do they believe what their abuser is saying. I often forget that I really don’t know what the other person is facing or how scared he/she might be!!!!
    Scary…will look out for this book!

  4. This makes it even more pertinent to the current case in the newspapers (UK) where they are trying to say that only the children from impoverished houses get into the trap. I hope more can be done to stop this grooming instead of people trying to point fingers at one community or race as in the end its the victims who suffer specially young children losing their self-esteem.
    Thank you for the review.

  5. I had to go back up and read again to make sure it is a true story. Story – that really undermines the whole narrative.
    Fantastic review. You just made me want to read it and weep. Yes, some books are meant to be read, not only to be aware but also see to it that it won’t be our story.
    Thanks smitha. I will watch out for this one.

  6. wonder mostly the tough luck children / broken house one’s become trafficker’s best bait!

    the victim loses the will to fight back, and starts believing everything that the abuser says I know this but I always feel one should not loose courage whatsoever cause one has to escape,that should be the aim…like this plot if her mother gave her to code word, Sophie should have used it immediately or so in order to get rescued by her mother and step-father like they did later….

    of course this is an outsider’s look. One has to be in the situation oneself to feel the pain and act accordingly…

    But overall, I’ve always felt that using one’s brain and not panicking or giving up easily comes to the rescue of the victim before anything/anyone else can come!

    Kudos to the girl though to come out in public like and also set up a foundation-it certainly takes courage to spill the beans of your dark life!

    Sounds like a tragic yet interesting read-gives you clues of how you should bring up your girls, steady and strong and teach them act wisely in adverse situations!

  7. Having just finished the book in less than 6 hours, my heart goes out to Sophie and I can not begin to imagine the trauma she went through. However, I can’t help feel that she was quite naive not to question why this man was so interested in her from abroad. Maybe thats just me and my quizative nature. When reading the final pages of her story, I found mysef hoping that she would testify against this monster of a man andI was disappointed that she didn’t. And also when he returned to England to find her, she allowed that beast to dominate and frighten her once more. I am the type of girl who would cry out for help in any situation like that. And after all that she had been through and survived, what would have been the worst that could happen…

  8. This book is not about a girl who has been Trafficked, this is a book about a silly girl who is desperate to have affection from her father, who WANTS to be controlled and enjoys being dominated.

    When i picked up this book i expected to read a harrowing story, i imagined a girl who had been kidnapped and taken off to a place like Africa, Congo, or in the remote areas of Russia, a girl who was tied to a bed, in a locked room and forced to have sex with various guys, a girl with no chance to call for HELP, a girl that was forced to do such acts, a ‘VICTIM’.

    The so called ”victim” in this book Sophie Hayes was not taken to a remote place like Congo, she was not locked in a room or tied to a bed. She was freely walking on the streets of ITALY. She had MANY dealings with the police in fact she even had SEX with the police and admitted sex with one particular police office was the only time it was ”more than just sex” yet never in ALL her dealings with the police in 6 months did she bother to tell them her real name or to ask them to call the U.K Embassy.

    She was left alone for a whole WEEK in France while the guy who ”forced” her into this went to Holland, again she did not call any police or the embassy she did not run away, she simply went onto the street and did 30 guys a night of her own free will.

    Despite being beaten and becoming a prostitute which she claims she ”hated” she never claims to hate the guy that did it to her and at one point even writes that she sat on his lap with her arms wrapped around him and felt a small ”bizarre thrill of pleasure” at the thought that he really did love her.

    Her mother had been smart enough to tell her a ‘code word’ that if anything was ever wrong she wouldn’t have to say it she can just ask ”how is auntie linda” yet in 6 months of phone calls to her mother she never once says those words.

    She also writes on page 170, that she argues with him because she is never allowed to go to him and spend the night with him in the bed she always has to wait for him to come to her.

    When she finally does get away from him she still answers his calls and his emails, and 12 months later when he shows up at her place, guess what??? She lets him right into the house.

    DOES THAT SOUND LIKE A VICTIM!????????????????????

    She wants to be there.

    Never once did she try to run away, she never called the embassy even though she had a cell phone, she never told the police her story even though they knew something was up and she met them MANY times, she had sex with police, she never tried to ask her family for help with the ”code word” she admits to feeling affections for this guy even while he was beating her and ”making” her have sex with strangers

    if you believe the poor excuse that she was ”brainwashed” in one day then your just a gullible as she was.

    I could maybe MAYBE feel some compassion if this girl had been TOTALY in love with this guy and she became a prostitute to help him pay debts, but she wasn’t in love with him, she didn’t want him at all, in 4 years she had turned him down constantly and didn’t talk to him for more 1-2 years! He was just a friend, a small time drug dealer and big time loser and yet she got ”brainwashed” overnight….. Give me a break!!!!!

    I was also disappointed that her family took 6 months to bother to come find her even though the mom knew on the first night something was wrong. if my daughter left the country, left her job, left her apartment all overnight without notice and calls me to tell me she’s not coming back i would be on a plane within ONE HOUR to go get her. Yet these people waited 6 months.

    Sadly there are many girls who like jerks who treat them like crap and beat them around a little and dominate them totally. She is a victim of bad self esteem that’s all, she could have got out of this situation at virtually ANY point, she had MILLIONS of chances from day ONE to get out of this…she had the choice and she CHOSE to stay with him and to do 30 guys a night on the street.
    That is NOT trafficked!

    This book is very very frustrating on many levels, not only for her lack of brains, but the writing is VERY repetitive and i almost threw it in the rubbish many times. Especially when near the end she again ADMITS that even now, she still checks her old email and reads what this scumbag says.

    I feel sorry for the girls who a REALLY trafficked, who would do anything to talk to the police, to have a phone to call for help, who would do anything to be left alone for 5 minutes to RUN away from there perpetrators!!!!

  9. Thank you for all your comments, I am currently working at The Sophie Hayes Foundation working to make sure Sophie’s experience does not occur again and work with survivors to give them hope again. Thanks again for your support.

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