Born out of wedlock and orphaned by her mother in Mexico City, Gloria grew up without knowing what it felt like to be loved. At age 14, she was homeless and was forced to drop out of school to support herself.
In her early 20s, she met a man who showed her affection for the first time in her life. He asked her to prove her love for him by getting his initials tattooed on her shoulder, and she did. Gloria couldn’t have guessed the true meaning of the tattoo; his initials branded her as property of one of the most violent gangs in the world, Los Zetas. Soon after, her boyfriend took her to a party, where he sold her to Los Zetas as a sex slave.
During her six months in captivity, Gloria was beaten, raped, drugged, burned with cigarettes, cut with broken bottles, and tortured so often that she lost count. She was kept in a room with 20 other women and girls. All had similar tattoos on their shoulders.
One night, Gloria was put alone in a room after being raped. Frustrated, she punched a rusted air conditioner mounted in the window, and it budged. This was her chance.
She punched the air conditioner until it fell to the ground. Gloria climbed through into the night, and she ran for days.
Apprehended at the border, she was immediately placed in a detention center in Texas and sought protection through Tahirih. We helped Gloria win asylum and connected her with vital social services.
Today, Gloria is slowly rebuilding her life and healing from her trauma. She recently found a job and dreams of one day becoming a dentist. For the first time in her life, she feels like she has the tools she needs to build a home.