Dominica,* is a survivor of human trafficking and sexual assault.

When Ayuda attorneys first met with Dominica, she was already attending regular check-in appointments with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Fairfax, Virginia, awaiting her deportation. Dominica had been released from ICE detention to await deportation so that she could care for her three U.S. citizen children while her travel documents were being processed. 

A landlord used Dominica’s immigration situation against her and started forcing Dominica to have sex with him in exchange for rent, and then tried to force her to have sex with other men. 

The nightmare began when the landlord raped Dominica in her rented apartment, only a few feet away from where her young children slept. He threatened Dominica that he would call ICE and have her re-detained if she did not provide sexual services to himself and the other men on a monthly basis. 

After receiving legal advice and counsel at Ayuda, Dominica called the police and was able to move out of the landlord’s apartment and to find safe housing with her three children. Law enforcement opened a sex-trafficking investigation against the landlord, and it was discovered that additional undocumented immigrant women had been victimized in the same way as Dominica. 

Ayuda assisted Dominica in applying for a T visa, as a survivor of human trafficking and a U visa, as a survivor of sexual assault, attended weekly ICE check-ins with Dominica, and assisted Dominica in re-opening her old legal case before the Immigration Court.

With all of these various forms of immigration legal assistance, Dominica is now well on her way to permanent legal status in the United States. She has been released from ICE’s check-in program.

Dominica’s case had a significant impact on the local community, as it ensured that she and other immigrant women were free of sex trafficking and sexual assault, making the community safer.

This is a story of Dominica. This is the story of hope and resilience. Throughout #HumanTraffickingAwarenessMonth we celebrate the voices of all survivors in hopes to raise awareness.

*Names and identifying information have been changed or omitted to protect client/survivor confidentiality.