A child trafficking victim who was sold to a UK host by her own prostitute mother at the age of 13 has told the harrowing story of her gypsy upbringing.
Eliza Tansker, from East Slovakia, grew up in “Soviet-style” apartment blocks alongside her gypsy mother, mum and aunts who “all worked as prostitutes.”
From the age of six, her grandma was keen to get Eliza and her cousins “working as prostitutes” and her aunt “would force bananas” down her throat to train her for “work.”
She was first introduced to prostitution at the age of seven and said she “never did anything” but had to “dance naked” while her mum “was on her knees.”
Eliza said some men “would touch themselves while they watched” her but a couple of times they’d swear at her mum bringing her, as reported in the Daily Mirror.
Eliza said her saving grace was her father who is a “volatile man with a criminal record” but “kinder in comparison” to her mum.
She said he stopped her grandma, who had a scar down her side from where the Nazis had sewn her to another woman, “from sending her to work” and “didn’t want to be associated with it.”
In her book, the Girl From Nowhere, she recalls: “He didn’t want to be associated with it, it didn’t mean I was sheltered from it.
“My aunt would force bananas down my throat to train me for work, and when I was seven I was taken along to work with my mum.
“I know it sounds odd, but I loved dancing and being with my mum, so to me it was normal.
“In fact, the men would throw so much money at me, which made Mum happy, it made me feel special.
“Even if I was still rifling through bins for food.”
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The money the women in the family earned was used to feed them, “with us children being given the scraps.”
Eliza said she was six when she had her first bath when her day “one day saw the state I was in and took me to a hotel” where he ran a bath with bubbles.
She said: “My dad, for all his faults, could be affectionate, and one day saw the state I was in and took me to a hotel.
“He ran a bath with bubbles – but I was terrified.
“The steam reminded me of when my grandma cooked vegetables, I thought he was trying to boil me alive.
“After screaming my head off, I was sat in the water while my dad washed me.
“It was the best feeling.
“My skin was a completely different shade afterwards!”
Eliza said her relationship with her mum was more volatile, and she “would regularly scream and shout” at her.
She said: She was abused as a child and struggled with demons. It seems weird, but I loved her, and still do.
“I know going to work with her could have been far worse, and I’m grateful to her that it wasn’t.
“I was 13 when my mum decided to ship me to the UK. Her reasoning was she wanted me to learn to read and write, so I could come back and buy her a house.
“Dad also wanted me to have an education, and with that, the arrangements were made.
“As I told my mother I’d miss her, she told me I should miss her for all she’d done for me, called me an ‘ungrateful leech’ and told me that she couldn’t wait to not see my face every day.”
Weeks later, along with two other children, a girl and a boy, Eliza was shoved in a washing machine box in a white van.
She said: “Once we arrived in the UK we were dropped off at a lady’s house in South Shields, where brown envelopes full of cash were exchanged.
“She used to hide us away as much as possible, terrified she’d be caught with us.”
Life in England was better than Slovakia, to her the house was “beautiful” and the kids were even “allowed to watch TV sporadically.
She said: “We weren’t fed much, but I was used to that. The three of us shared a plate of beans and toast and were allowed a few bites each before it was refrigerated for the next day.
“Still, she started teaching us how to read and write in English.”
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One day, her UK host had friends over and she was showing them her moves when one saw the talent in her and took her along to dance lessons.
Eliza said: “She started taking me out to dance at parties, with our main work coming from Punjabi hen do’s.
“I was given gorgeous dresses to wear and it was the time of my life – until one night when I was 16.”
She said as she “skipped down the street” in her “gorgeous costume” towards home, three men attacked her, raped her, and filmed it.
Eliza said: “I woke up on the floor to two girls stroking my face in tears.
“My mouth was so swollen and my jaw had misaligned, so I was unable to speak, but they called an ambulance.
“I was in and out of consciousness in hospital for a few days and although they took swabs, the police didn’t take a statement.
“They were harsh to me because I didn’t have any ID. No one was ever charged.”
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In the weeks after the attack, Eliza said a deep depression followed and she even “wished” she was dead.
Her dad “got wind” of the incident and “turned up on my doorstep,” marched into her room and took her “to a hotel.”
She said: “There he cuddled me and I sobbed. It was the first time I’d cried or let anybody touch me since the rape.
“He let me lie down on the bed and popped out to buy nice oils and ran me a bath. It was full circle from my first bath all those years ago.
“Dad sat on the floor and we spoke about me going to university.
“He told me I had to close this chapter of my life and carry on dancing and learning. I felt so much lighter when I got out of the bath.”
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Her mum wasn’t so kind, and when Eliza told her what happened she said asked Eliza why she had let them do that “for free.”
She said: “It devastated me, but I was determined to prove it wouldn’t break me.”
Eventually, her dad helped her fined her feet and she went on to get a degree in professional and creative writing.
Eliza said: “I work hard to earn money, even missing my graduation for my cleaning job.
“I was scrubbing a toilet, but I thought to myself, I’m the most qualified cleaner in this building! Not bad for a feral child from East Slovakia.
“I still dance at hen parties and sew dresses on the side. I love cleaning and I’m happy at work, but my dream is to write full time.
“I’ve written a book about my life and my family have read it. I still have a good relationship with both my mum and my dad. But this is my time. I’ve proved my worth to others, but more importantly, I’ve proved how strong I am to myself.”
– Save £5 off Eliska’s book, The Girl From Nowhere, with offer code RA9 (RRP £14.99.) Call 01256 302 699 or order online by clicking here (free P&P on orders over £15).
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