by SSJ Agregee and Social Justice Coordinator, Betsy Wiest
When Hope Lloyd was four years old, she went with her mother on what she thought was an outing to a park near her London, England residence. She didn’t understand why she needed to take an airplane to get to the park. When the plane landed, Hope was given to Mercedes, a woman who had manipulated her mother into turning Hope and her sister over to her. For the next 13 years, Hope was moved to various places and eventually was brought to North Carolina. During those years, she was subjected to unimaginable abuse at the hands of Mercedes. She was forced to clean in a house with various animals living inside: chickens, goats, dogs, cats. Her hair was chopped off as punishment. Weighing only 90 pounds, Hope was forced to wear clothing that was several sizes too large. She and the other girls there were tied together and unable to access any food as it was all under lock and key. She was denied the right to go to school, have friends, or venture outside. Mercedes brought Hope to the U.S. illegally and told her that if she went to the police, more harm would result. Hope did not know her rights.
When she was 18, some neighbors living nearby thought something didn’t seem right in the house where Hope lived. They reported their suspicions. Ultimately, Hope and her sisters were rescued, adopted by the social worker, and they began the long road of recovery to become survivors.
Hope earned her GED and is a now certified fitness trainer. She is Director of Trauma for The Voice of Hope International. She specializes in using exercise to help women and girls overcome abusive events they endured. Hope is a survivor. Hope is a hero.
Hope recently shared her story with the members of the Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition Force-Erie. The Sisters of St. Joseph sponsored a recording of her presentation. She wants people to hear her story so when they see something, they can, as her neighbors did, say something and save a life. Click here to view Hope’s presentation.