He’d been her friend for years. He said he loved her. Then she realised she didn’t know him at all…
When everything seemed to be falling apart in Sophie’s life, she was thankful for her friend Kas, who was always at the end of a phone, ready to listen and to offer comfort and advice.
Her father’s cold dislike of her and then her parents’ divorce had left her with a deep distrust of men. But, gradually, Kas made her believe there was at least one man who truly cared about her.
But she was wrong.
At first when Sophie went to stay for a few days with Kas in Italy, he was kind and caring, as he’d always been. But three days after she arrived, everything changed.
His eyes were cold as he described the things he expected her to do ‘for love’. But soon Sophie’s bewilderment turned to fear as he punched and shouted at her and threatened to kill her adored younger brothers if she didn’t do exactly as she was told… to sell her body on the streets to pay off Kas’s debts.
Terrified of Kas, the police and the men whose pleasures she was forced to satisfy, Sophie worked seven nights a week for the next six months on the dark and lonely streets of a town in northern Italy.
Subjected regularly to Kas’s verbal, mental and physical abuse, she knew she would never escape.
And then, one day, after she’d been admitted to hospital with stomach pains – and knowing that Kas would kill her if he found out – she dared to phone her mother.
But who would reach her first?
This is not something I would ever usually choose to read, but I feel so passionately against human trafficking that I wanted to read somebody’s story for the sake of my own awareness. I knew exactly what effect Trafficked would have on me, and I was certainly perplexed when I picked up this book in my local bookshop for the assistant to say, ‘it looks good that, doesn’t it?’
Trafficked tells the harrowing true story of Sophie Hayes, a young woman who held a distrust of men from a very early age at the hands of a verbally and emotionally abusive father. Soon enough, Kas entered her life, who seemingly harboured an unrequited love for her, remaining persistent, kind and caring despite her initial rejection and coldness towards him. Over the course of a few years Kas gained her trust and became the best friend she confided in about everything in her life, past and present.
To escape from the mess of her own life, Sophie moved to Italy with Kas, who after a few days showed himself to be a completely different person – a far cry from the warm and loving man she thought she knew. Kas became violent with Sophie, forcing her to sell her body on the streets to pay off his debt, and all in the name of ‘love.’ Taking away her passport and her freedom, Kas maintained his power over Sophie with emotional manipulation, regular beatings and threats to her family if she ever tried to escape. Accepting her fate, Sophie couldn’t see a way out and remained under the violent and vicious control of Kas, until her admittance to a hospital offered the possibility of a way out.
I initially found Sophie’s story hard to rate because of its nature and content, and I certainly couldn’t say that I enjoyed reading it. I gave Trafficked five stars because I feel this book is something everybody should read. It is one thing to hear of this kind of evil, but to actually hear it from an inside perspective and from somebody’s true story offers the closest insight and understanding the average human being could have of the unimaginable atrocities that the victims of human trafficking encounter.
I got through Trafficked quicker than I ever have any book, in what would add up to be just a few short hours. I found it draining at times, and the entire time that I had the book in my hands I felt physically sick at the details the poor woman had to endure, but I felt I owed it to Sophie to carry on reading and to know her story. Horrifying yet utterly compelling, Trafficked is the true story of bravery and strength in weakness.