What We Do /  

Women's Safehouse

In 2011 Unseen opened it's women's safehouse, the first emergency accommodation in the South West for women survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Open every single day of the year, Unseen’s women’s safehouse is an essential stepping-stone for women who have had the very worst experiences of exploitation.

The women who find themselves at the safehouse are daughters, sisters, wives and mothers. They have been tricked, manipulated and abused. They often arrive traumatised, with nothing more than the clothes they stand up in and 100% of women arrive malnourished.

But these women are also survivors.


Women's Safehouse - what we do

Supported by Unseen’s expert team, up to 10 women at a time are accommodated in the safehouse so they can begin rebuilding their lives.

Survivors stay for an average of 90 days and have access to a range of services during their stay:

  • Emergency and ongoing medical care and treatment
  • Trauma counselling
  • Legal advice and assistance
  • Financial assistance
  • Immigration advice
  • Assistance to return home or to reside in the UK
  • Holistic therapy sessions
  • Access to education, employment or volunteering
  • Training in how to assess safe relationships.

Watch this film about Tania, who describes her exploitation and how Unseen and the women's safehouse helped her rebuild her life


Says Martha, Women's Safehouse Manager: "So many of the survivors that come to us have had horrendous experiences, including forced labour, sexual exploitation and domestic servitude – they often arrive unable to trust anyone, experiencing frequent and intense flashbacks and live in constant fear.

"We provide an environment that is welcoming, safe and supportive, so the women have the foundation they need to begin to get their lives back."

Women who seek refuge at Unseen’s safehouse will have experienced sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, domestic servitude or county lines – being groomed into a gang to sell drugs across counties in the UK.

Often women will have experienced more than one type of exploitation.


HARRIET'S STORY

Harriet grew up on a quiet street of a British city. Inside the house, it wasn’t quiet. Harriet’s father was violent, and would hit Harriet and her mother and little sisters. Harriet lost interest in school, and started to spend a lot of time as far away from home as possible. By the time her parents separated, she was already drinking and taking drugs.

When Harriet was 15, members of a local gang started offering her money, drugs and alcohol to take drugs between UK cities and smaller towns. She found herself with addiction issues, and being forced to sleep with gang members alongside drug running – which she was not paid for.

Too frightened by the gang's threats and manipulation to escape, it was not until Harriet was arrested on a drugs run that she told anyone what was happening to her, and was recognised as a victim of modern slavery.

Harriet was placed in the Unseen Women’s Safehouse where she was offered help for her addiction issues, alongside sexual health checks. She and her family received support to enable her to go home to them, including putting in place an outreach worker for her.


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