A Canadian sex trafficking survivor has shared her harrowing story from post-communist Hungary to the seedy massage parlours and strip clubs of Toronto.
Timea Nagy was just 20 in 1998 when she answered a newspaper ad in Budapest to work as babysitter in Canada.
Keen to support her impoverished family, she travelled to Canada’s biggest city where she was forced into sex work by a ring of international human traffickers.
“My mom was a police officer, we grew up very poor and when I was 19 we were at the edge of losing our home,” Nagy told CTV’s Your Morning.
“Mom was sick and in hospital and so it was up to my brother and I to find financial aid. We just looked for jobs, I found an ad in the newspaper ‘go to Canada, young woman, English not necessary and you can make all the money that you need.’
“I answered an ad and it sounded fantastic and I landed in Canada two weeks later.”
But instead of the dream future she had hoped for in Toronto, a three-month long nightmare began.
Once she arrived, she was told she owed the “agency” that brought her here thousands of dollars.
She was controlled by two men and forced to work in a strip club and massage parlour where she was sexually assaulted by three men.
She was fed just one meal a day, with her weight dropping to just 89lbs, until her eventual escape.
“When you don’t speak English in a country that you don’t know and the only voice in your head is these people telling you in your language what’s going to happen if you leave, what’s going to happen if you talk to others, it takes you a long time to figure out what’s a lie and what’s real, all the threats” Nagy said.
“Eventually with the help of people in a club, and I really hope they’re watching this as I still haven’t found them, Chris and another gentleman Julius helped me escape from the club. They were hiding me and they helped me get back to the airport.”
The men running the “agency” kept a group of young women in a hotel room, took their passports and 90 per cent of their earnings, Nagy said.
Now 41, Nagy has penned her own survival story in her new memoir, ‘Out of the Shadows’.
“My life is divided in two: before I was trafficked, and after,” Nagy wrote.
“No one ‘gets over’ such traumatic experiences, but there are ways to integrate them into your identity and make them meaningful, to fully come to terms with their impact.”
Her trafficker in Toronto was charged with sexual assault, but found not guilty.
Nagy now works with Canadian police to help other trafficked girls and is the founder of Timea's Cause, based in Cambridge, Ont., a social enterprise that helps train anyone, from bank employees to police, how to spot human trafficking and deal with victims.
She has been recognized by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper for her work with other survivors.
“Because of Canadian people is why I’m still here and why I’m alive,” Nagy said.