a survivor of modern slavery
Dan shares how he was tricked into a life of dealing drugs at the age of 18. He was beaten badly and his family were threatened, so much so that it is still not safe for them to meet today.
After receiving support from The Salvation Army, Dan is now studying and has a full-time job. He bravely told his story because he wanted to warn other people of the dangers of modern slavery.
This is Dan’s story in his own words.
"It all started when I was 18 and I was doing an apprenticeship at a warehouse. For the first three years everything was good and then someone new started work there as head of security. I feel I was gullible because at first he made me think I was his friend and tricked me into getting involved with him.
He started to deal drugs on the property. I didn’t want anything to do with it but I soon learned that he was good friends with the boss and that I had to do what he said or risk losing my job. After a while he made me help him and at one point gave me several thousand pounds worth of drugs to sell which he charged me for.
I didn’t have the money to pay him back immediately so he told me there was interest to pay and doubled the amount I owed. When I said I couldn’t pay he went to my parent’s house and smashed it up. Then he started to take the money through my wages. Sometimes I was working 75 to 80 hours a week and, although my salary went through the books at the warehouse, I never saw penny of it.
Over the years he beat me up so badly that I’ve lost most of the teeth at the back of my mouth, had broken ribs and a damaged knee. I couldn’t get treatment for anything while I was there because they made me work all the time. He also used my identity in fraud and the terrible credit history he created in my name is still with me today. Despite this my so-called debts kept going up and up. The last time I saw him he told me that he’d shoot me if he caught me doing a runner without paying.
I’ve not seen him since the day the police came and raided the warehouse but I know he’s clever and, because he’s a big crime boss, has lots of other people working for him. Since then his thugs have terrorised other members of my family including my 85-year-old gran, my mum and niece who’ve been threatened on the streets when walking to school. I’m not able to see my family because it is too dangerous for them and me. Right now my gran is really ill and it cripples me to know that if anything happens to her I won’t be able to attend the funeral.
When the police raided the warehouse they found stolen vehicles, drugs and guns and arrested a lot of people including, it seemed, me. But this was a pretence to protect me and as soon as we were at the police station they treated me like a victim.
That day, which happened to be my birthday, was my first day of freedom. After that The Salvation Army made arrangements for me to be taken to a safe house, hundreds of miles from home for my protection. I stayed here for many months and they were amazing and really helped me. But one day I spotted one of his gang on the street.
As I couldn’t be sure he hadn’t seen me too, The Salvation Army arranged for me to go to another safe house in the north-east of England. In both places I was always treated with respect, honesty and integrity. I learned so much from cooking skills to languages and other cultures. The staff’s positive energy would instantly cheer me up whenever I felt down. They also helped me apply for work and my confidence grew under their care. Amazing people who deserve recognition. What an amazing service. I will forever be in their debt.
The police, Serious Organised Crime and National Crime Agency are all involved in trying to put my trafficker behind bars but he’s a tricky customer. I find it difficult to think about my future. I can’t really think further ahead than a month. Things are pretty stable at the moment and I want to use my experiences to warn other people about what can happen and explain how much help there is out there for anyone who was trapped like me.”
We will keeping fighting for victims of modern slavery
Modern slavery in the UK and the support The Salvation Army provides to survivors
Sanu tells how he was tricked into living and working in slave-like conditions in the UK.
Ensuring that policy makers end modern slavery and protect its victims