A VICTIM of modern slavery has spoken up about her ordeal before beginning her new life as a university student in Bradford.

Myla* spent the past 11 years of her life trapped by an illegal company who "used and abused" her position as a vulnerable young girl with no papers.

Myla's mother moved the family over to the UK back in 2002 with the hopes of starting a new chapter after the death of her son.

But, at the age of 18 and an asylum seeker, her mother returned to the rest of the family in Africa - leaving the teenager on her own.


Myla was invited to stay with a friend in Reading where she met a "concerned" woman who knew someone looking for staff.

Desperate and in despair, Myla described the job as "an answered prayer" and followed the stranger to Birmingham.

Myla was offered a sales job earning £350 a month as well as a place to stay - this later turned out to be "a con".

The company threatened that the Home Office were visiting so she began working from the woman's home.

As well as hitting sales targets, Myla also had to cook meals and look after the woman's child. Myla was never paid for her work and was reminded that she had no papers every time she demanded her wage.

She told the Telegraph & Argus: "I didn't have anything at all, I had to take it.

"I didn't realise it was a con for her to make me look after the child while I was at home.

"They moved the office to her house and she cut the days her child was going to nursery. I found myself in a position where I was looking after the child; I was cooking; I was cleaning.

"That made me lose myself. I feel like a part of me died.

"I was sleeping on the floor. I didn't have a wardrobe. I'm a very outspoken person but I couldn't find my voice.

"My mum would say to me 'Talk to her' but I didn't say how I was feeling. I was scared of the police and immigration."

When Myla's sales dropped, the boss moved her to a different flat and changed her hours.

She said: "When he came, the phone was ringing; the child was crying and, in the kitchen, I had a pot on the stove. He says to me 'What's going on our sales are down?'.

"He said, 'You're going to move out. We are not going to tell this lady.

"I was living close to where I was working. I found myself forced to go to presentations in different countries or events and he would say, 'You slept in the hotel, that's your pay'."

Myla eventually plucked up the courage to leave and, "screaming and crying", she demanded payment - to no avail.

The human trafficking survivor reached out to numerous organisations for help. Palm Cove, an organisation who provides vulnerable people with homes, moved Myla to a new safe space for modern slavery victims.

She began volunteering and, guided by her support worker, applied for a grant to Bradford University.

Myla said: "All my life I've just been used and abused.

"I didn't trust anyone and, even if I was happy that somebody was helping me, I always felt like they wanted to take advantage of me.

"If you knew me last year you wouldn't want to spend even a minute with me. I don't have to put my clothes in black bags, I've got a wardrobe, I've got a bed. It felt so good just to have my own keys. I remember thinking to myself I wish I could have my own keys."

When Myla was told about her university place, she began "screaming the whole bus down".

She said: "I was nervous. I kept reminding myself how far I'd come.

"I remember just screaming the whole bus down.

"I didn't care who was listening. It was like I got a flashback of how I was used and abused... and now."

*All names have been changed.