30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2013
The previous reviewer who callously assumed that this is a made up story simply illustrates the major problem with this type of crime. Why did the 3 young ladies held captive in Cleveland for 10 years simply not bash Castro in the head and run? Really easy to assume and castigate when you have never personally known such horror. Show a little compassion.
Trafficking and abduction are still relatively rare enough in Western nations that the average person cannot perceive of what an abductee has gone through, as far as they are concerned, a book like this is only a script for a Hollywood exploit. But every time a person like the previous reviewer turns an apathetic eye to the issue, it allows yet one more child or woman to be taken and sold into forced prostitution.
I applaud this author for writing this book and shedding much needed light on this appalling issue. I wish her all the best on her continuing efforts to find peace and normalcy in her own life and her crusade to help the lives of countless others in forced bondage.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2013
It's surprising to think about girls being trafficked in this day and age, but the reader may be surprised (like I was) at how often it happens even in America. I can't imagine how the author handled this situation. If it was me, I don't think I would have shown so much grace under pressure. Sophie was a girl who did not know about sex trafficking (at least, she didn't think it could happen to her). When the unthinkable happens and someone who is supposed to love her more or less sells her, Sophie must rapidly recover and get back on her feet.
It has to be horrible to submit to another person for sex. Sophie relied on Bledi for the basic necessities for living because she had no choice. Unfortunately, this reliance comes at a heavy cost. I thought Sophie's character was wonderfully developed and shown through (the reader will make a connection to the author). There were scenes that were absolutely heart-breaking and will make the reader angry. This book is recommended to adult readers.
*Review copy provided for review, this in no way affects my review*
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Last year I wrote Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave to try and raise awareness about trafficking, so after my research for it I was expecting a lot of the horrific ordeal that Sophie describes in her book, but many others will not be. The truly scary thing is that trafficking is a huge global problem, and yet many people aren't aware of it, or they often assume that it happens just to people from poor countries. Sophie's story shows this isn't the case. She is an educated British woman who, like a lot of us, had emotional baggage that made her more vulnerable. She put her trust in the wrong person. A mistake that was a tragedy for her and could've cost her life. It proves that a normal person who accidentally slips up could be in the same situation. It could happen to you, or your daughter, or your sister, or your wife. In fact, it's going on under your nose right now. That woman working on a street corner or in a sauna or massage parlour that you see every day could be trafficked. That's why Sophie's story is so important, and together, we can all do something to raise awareness.
This subject is hardly ever in the media so I applaud Sophie for having the strength and courage to share her story, and break the common misconceptions that surround trafficking. Victims hardly ever speak out because they're threatened that their families will be killed. Often they cannot escape because they are brainwashed into believing their captors and they don't know who to trust. Their lives are a living hell.
You will cry while reading Sophie's heart-breaking story, and you will feel disgusted, sick, and angry, but it's a story that needs to be read. No one should have to go through this, and I hope this book and the work she's doing with Stop the Traffik will aid her healing process. She's a truly courageous and inspiring woman.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Trafficked, a first-hand account of sex trafficking written by Sophie Hayes, who was a victim, is shocking, involving, and not at all poorly written, but it's not pleasant to read. There are pages upon pages of degradation and abuse that are bleak and difficult to get through. That doesn't factor into my rating; it's to be expected from an account of this sort. But one does venture into a book like this looking for edification, and with the hope that there will be at least some redemption in the end or a glimpse toward a brighter future. I wasn't as uplifted by the author's reformation as others seem to have been--I didn't put down the book confident that Ms. Hayes had remade herself and her future. While she showed much courage as a survivor of brutality, she was also unable to stand up and stop her tormentor from doing this again to her or someone else. And, perhaps more importantly for her future, I'm not sure she came away with a very clear understanding of why this happened to her and why she was so vulnerable in the first place. Her interactions with men--they way she sees them as either her saviors or abusers--are disturbing. She becomes subservient to the cruel ones and is somewhat callous and insensitive to the kind ones who genuinely love her. Until she resolves these issues, her ability to find happiness and stability in a relationship remains in doubt. That, at least partly, contributes to my middling response and rating.
But my main problem with the book, as a few others have expressed here (and it's certainly not a popular view) is that I have doubts about the veracity of the story. It's not that I'm blind to the cruelty that happens in the world, and It's not that I can't imagine this happening the way the author said it did. Yes, she made poor choice after poor choice to put (or keep) herself at risk, which becomes very frustrating for the reader to absorb. But a person's low self esteem can contribute to her being victimized and trapped in horrific circumstances. If you're not given approval from the people who should love you the most, and the most unconditionally, you lack basic tools of self preservation, which leaves you more prone to being a victim. Sophie makes many head-scratching decisions in the course of her interactions with Kas; she keeps letting him believe he can worm his way back into her life--even after she has escaped his immediate control and is back in her home country. Unlike other skeptics on this site, I get that her judgment might be impaired by fear and low self regard, and I understand that people don't always react to difficult situations the way the reader would like them to react.
But Sophie's story raises other red flags. I wanted to believe, not that this awful thing happened to Ms. Hayes, but that she wouldn't invent such a harrowing story (albeit seemingly not for notoriety or personal gain, but as a cautionary tale for others). But all the notes of victimization are hit almost too perfectly, and I couldn't get past the idea that maybe, just maybe, my emotional buttons of outrage were being pushed. Sophie is not only prostituted, but verbally abused and beaten nearly to death over and over again (which she describes each time in vivid detail) by someone with no redeeming qualities--someone whose actions she often excuses and whose approval she continues to court. At first this response provokes in me anger, then frustration, and finally a kind of numbness (much as the numbness Sophie adopted to survive her situation).
And what of Kas, her abuser? There's never any real sense of who he is and why she was so completely drawn in by him. He's a cartoon villain who doesn't really comes alive on these pages. (It's not that I want to know him. But, as Sophie says she loves Kas and has inextricably tied herself to him, it's important to get at least some realistic sense of him to understand her motivations better.) But Kas might as well have been an invention of a Lifetime movie screenwriter. When he gains her trust, he's almost too good to be true; suddenly (VERY suddenly) he becomes too vile to comprehend. He''s spent FOUR YEARS in the good-guy persona, building her up (without even sleeping with her in all that time, mind you) by saying and doing sensitive, empathetic things. Then he's suddenly incapable of doing or saying anything sensitive or empathetic. It could be that she wanted to believe in someone, and had blinders on where he was concerned, but it's hard to believe that someone as wary of men as Sophie was did not see any danger signs for four years from this completely narcissistic and likely sociopathic person. She had what could have been a healthy relationship with someone who regarded her highly and treated her well, and she sabotaged that relationship, only to pursue one with creepy Kas.
By leaving this rating, I'm giving the author the benefit of the doubt that the story is (at least in essence) true. The truer it is, the more my heart goes out to Ms. Hayes. She may have partly engineered her victimization through her naivety and emotional damage, but she did not in any way deserve what happened to her. No one deserves to be victimized, especially not in this way--having their freedom to decide how to live their own life taken away. Trafficked is not fun to read, but I do applaud Sophie's courage in surviving her ordeal and telling her story as a warning to others.
If the story is not true, however, I'm not sure what rating I'd give it, and shame on the author and her editor and publisher for manipulating the sympathies of people who are genuinely shocked by these kind of events and concerned for victims' welfare. I felt manipulated and empty as I was reading James Frey's "memoir" and starting to doubt it (even before it was confirmed to be largely fictional), and I had some of the same emotions while reading this book. It doesn't matter at all to me how moving an account is, or what the motivation is for writing it, or even whether it's well written, if what is sold to me as non-fiction turns out to be fabrication.
It's not for me to say, based on little more than suspicion and an uneasy feeling, what is and isn't true. I'm only jotting down my impression. I would, however, advise readers to keep an open mind and listen to their instincts if they feel they are being drawn into a story that may be at least partly embellished. I would have advised Sophie to do very much the same thing. If she had, she might not have become a victim.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book popped up as a suggestion on my kindle after finishing another book. Saw there were a decent number of reviews, high overall rating, and took a chance. Usually when I do that, and don't actually examine the reviews for legitimacy beforehand, the book is just a couple bucks, so it doesn't really matter if it turns out to be a flop. This one was quite a bit more, was touted as having "took the UK by storm", and seemed like a good bet at the time. Oh how I was wrong.
You'll see that the reviews are dominated by many similar 5-star reviews. In the few negative reviews however, people express their frustration with a woman who makes no attempt to escape, despite many chances to do so, and even at various times describes her prostitution experiences and her abductor/pimp/abuser in favorable terms.
The comments to these reviews often bring up Stockholm Syndrome and Battered Women's Syndrome as an explanation to the unrelatable and unbelievable actions taken (or not taken) by the protagonist. That's fine, and these are legitimate conditions, but I feel the book should be marketed as such.
A more accurate book description:
"An apparently mentally unbalanced woman who was verbally abused as a child goes on a trip with a purely platonic friend (who initiated their friendship by stalking and harassing her), decides that even though she doesn't love him, he makes her feel safe and maybe she should give it a go. They go from just friends one day to sleeping together that night, and the next day, this boyfriend-of-one-day manages to brainwash her into working as a prostitute on the streets of Italy. Despite having resources such as a phone, ample money on hand at any given time during her unsupervised shifts, interactions with police and several friendly clients, hospital stays and even hospital transfers, enormous stretches of time away from her abductor, and more, she never leaves, due to an undiagnosed phsychological condition predisposing her to instant and total mind control. In fact she actively takes steps to be reunited with her abuser. Read this book to explore this fascinating physchological phenomenon."
Although even with that description, it wouldn't be a really good book to explore those conditions, because you really are never taken into her mind to understand why she acts the way she does. That's what initally really bothered me about this book: not even that the plot (story?) is so ridiculous, but that you are never really shown any of the mental anguish and terror that you would expect from a victim of such abuse. The book largely goes like this: "I couldn't believe he wanted me to do these terrible things. But I did it anway because he scared me. Then I did it about thirty more times. It was really terrible. Although sometimes it was okay. Sometimes he beat me really horribly. But I still craved affection and approval from him."
I remember watching the movie "Human Traffic" with Mira Sorvino, and feeling like I had been run over by a bus by the end. Absolutely soul-crushing. Later I saw the movie "Taken", and while it can be said that it provided some mainstream exposure to human trafficking, I also felt that it presented a Disney Human Trafficking Lite version of the subject, which I believe can sometimes be as damaging if not moreso than no exposure to a topic at all. I started to get a similar feeling reading this book, though while Taken's shortfall was that it exposed us to the horrors of human trafficking but left us with astronomically unlikely perfect happy ending, this book was something entirely different.
If someone has never really been exposed to the horror of human trafficking, and they read this book, they are going to come away with the idea that the victims of human trafficking are mentally unbalanced and self-destructive women who have plenty of opportunities to literally walk away at any time but for some mind boggling reason don't. This is quite different from the typical human trafficking narrative where victims are abducted, physically restrained, guarded, drugged, and raped to death. As I say this, I know it appears that I am minimizing the abuse and mental coercion that many women experience, and while I am in no way trying to do that, I do not feel this book is a good representation of the power of mental coercion, threats, and abuse that force victims to stay in abusive situations, since it never really makes you feel or understand that fear. Again, my takeaway is that this is a much better illustration of a woman with a severe mental illness that causes her to stay in (or rather form) an abusive relationship and make decisions that most women wouldn't.
A couple examples, in addition to the bounty of implausibilities other reviewers have mentioned:
- At one point she's worried that a particular shady looking client may "rape" her, but then comforts herself that hey, she's going to have sex with him anyway. It blew my mind when she said that. That as a self-proclaimed victim of human trafficking and sex slavery, she did not consider herself a victim of rape. This just struck me as completely bizarre and I could not relate to it.
- Some take issue with the many concrete examples of opportunity to escape that she didn't take. More troubling for me was the total lack of any illustration that she even had a desire to escape at the onset. Even during their first conversation, as he's explaining her new situation to her, I would imagine myself desperately formulating escape plans, eyes darting, looking at the door, looking for my purse, phone, etc, in a state of fight or flight panic. Her response is quite different. You could describe it more as downtrodden. Just crying and asking him to please change his mind. She's in disbelief and goes to bed that night telling herself that hopefully he'll change his mind in the morning, that he's just in a bad mood. Keep in mind this was not her boyfriend for four years, this was a guy who literally stalked her when they first met, who she became platonic friends with for a couple years through phone/text only, not even in person, then didn't hear from for two years, then out of the blue heard from again and went on a couple trips with, was not in love with, and had just slept with for the first time the night before. It's not like her serious partner of four years all of a sudden flipped. Then I could understand some confusion and disbelief. In my mind, my response would be oh @#$% oh @#$% run run run. Call the family, tell them to call the cops to protect themselves from his alleged threats, then get out of there.
To be perfectly honest, the irrational behavior (yes, not escaping when given time alone, time with hospital workers/police officers, a phone, and tons of cash is irrational, even if *excused* by mental illness) COMBINED with the lack of explanation and detail into her mental state made this book a hard sell for me. I could not help but doubt the legitimacy of the story, and seeing the abundance of completely unconvincing 5-star reviews didn't help that.
The worst thing I can say about this book is that frankly, it didn't seem like a true story. It was just unbelievable.
The best thing I could say about this book, is that maybe it is true, and in that case it is just extremely poorly written. If it is true, of course I apologize, but if I wrote a book about a crazy but true life experience, and people didn't believe it, I would want to have the chance to revise and improve my writing to make my thought processes, decisions, and actions more clear to the reader. And perhaps, given the story here, changing the direction of the book to delve more into the psychology of the author would be appropriate. It would be fascinating to read a story about Stockholm Syndrome from the victim's perspective, but that isn't the way it's presented here.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This certainly is not a feel good biography but it is one of tragedy and triumph. While the content is likely to make you want to lock away your daughters and never let them out of your sight again the book itself is well written and it certainly takes hold of you much in the same way Sophie was taken hold of by her captor.
I do admire Sophie for having the courage to try and piece her life back together after all that she went through. She has already walked a long road and I am sure there are still many dark days ahead. I do however wonder if 'Trafficked' is the right title for the book as this certainly is not a classic case of what it means to be trafficked. I guess like so many other readers I was left frustrated that she never tried to get away but then again I have never been in a situation where I was paralysed by fear. Sophie asks the same question of herself too and is unable to find an answer. This is unfortunately another case of silence of a lamb but at least she did finally get out of it many others are not so fortunate.
For a gripping but at times frustrating read it is well worth the effort! Wishing Sophie all the best as she seeks to use this situation for good.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
This book was one of the strangest reads I've had in a long time. Most of the book centers around the various physical and emotional abuse, on an almost daily basis, by her captor. The repetition of abuse over a period of months and the fact that the victim had multiple chances of escaping/leaving has me really wondering what level of truth was disclosed. I know about brainwashing but the way the story unfolded and dragged on had me thinking whether or not she (or some part of her) actually didn't mind doing what she was doing.
Don't beat me up! I'm just stating what my opinion was based on what information was related in the various circumstances within the book.
Here are some reasons why I was frustrated about this book.
- The victim never tried to escape, never considered it and had many chances.
- In my mind, if the victim really was at a point where she believed her captors threats, would it really be worth living under those circumstances, as horrible and demeaning as they were? I'd do myself in if I truly believed there was no out.
- If she truly believed he'd hurt her brothers then what changed when she finally did "escape" (loosely used word)?
- When she was back at home, with people she cared for/loved and trusted, why did she get back into the same living situation, and patterns if she really thought he'd come looking for her? It almost seemed to me she made it easy for him to find her again.
- Why on God's green earth didn't she contact the police when he did catch up with her?
- Why wasn't there any emphasis on therapy if she was this brainwashed? Seems to me this would be a perfect storm to occur again and again until she seeks real help.
I don't know. I really felt that I wasted my money on this book. I wish I felt different and more sorry for her but I think there should have been a much clearer understanding made of how she allowed this to happen over months and how she allowed the control after the event. I also think that there should have been more written about Kas (the captor) and what happened to him.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2014
Sophie Hayes has written an absolutely amazing memoir about her experience with sex trafficking. The motivation that Sophie has for writing this book is that this is her personal story of going through sex trafficking. She goes through many details about how gruesome and brutal her capturer was. He has a mental illness and beat her daily. Throughout the book she struggles to make him happy, and feels somewhat pleasure when she does things right in his eyes, but she desperately wants to get away but can’t find the strength to do it by herself. I support most of her actions throughout the book such as not putting her little brothers at risk of getting hurt by her capturer. The biggest action of hers that I support is that she called her mom and step dad for help. This helped her to escape from her bully of a capturer. The decision that I criticize is that after she made it back to England, she waited to tell people that her capturer had found and threatened her at her home. At this time, she told no one because she thought that she could handle it on her own, but she couldn’t. So she ended up telling the police. In this memoir, the author has to confront the fact that she could die at any given second of any day either by a man that she was going to have sex with, another prostitute, or by her own capturer. I would definitely recommend this book. I would recommend this book because you really get a firsthand view of sex trafficking. You can really see why this global issue continues to happen, and how people are getting themselves into this situation. This book really proves that sex trafficking can happen to anyone because before the author was trafficked she had a regular job, family, home and was very educated. A couple powerful quotes in this book was “ before id gone to Italy, my mum had told me that if ever anything went wrong and I needed her help but couldn’t speak openly on the phone for any reason, I should ask her ,”hows auntie Linda?” This quote was very powerful because asking how Auntie Linda was practically saved the authors life. This helped her escape from her capturer because as soon as her mom heard those words she was on her way to get her daughter and she had a plan.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This was a sad story about a girl named Sophie who became involved with a European man named Kas.At first things were fine between them and she was treated well. She went to Italy for a visit with him but then to her horror, Kas changed and told her she owed him money and was not going home until it was paid. He became violent and cruel, and she was forced to become a prostitute to pay him this so-called debt.Sophie serviced many men and saw little money- Kas was always beating her up and starving her, and emotional abuse was also part of the picture. Finally after Sophie became gravely ill, was she able to return home and restart her life. This is a fairly well-written book chronicling a girl's trafficking into prostitution abroad. It could happen to any girl who trusts a man enough to go far from home with him.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2014
There is no doubt that her story is terrible and sad. However, what makes me angry is how pathetic she really is. She is a weak woman who had many chances to escape but didn't even once try. This book made me very upset. She kept comparing her horrible experiences to what she painted to be a picture perfect life where she was an angel when she wasn't. She lacks common sense, what person just goes off to another country with a man she's never even got to know face to face? I'm sorry, but overall her story is pathetic and what happened to her could have been avoided to easily.