At age 16, Ms. Ima Matul was forced into an arranged marriage in Indonesia with a man 12 years her senior. As soon as she had the chance, Ima ran away in order to escape this man’s assaults. She traveled to the city and was offered an opportunity to work in America. The person who was to become Ima’s trafficker offered her a nanny position in Los Angeles. However, upon her arrival in Los Angeles, Ima was immediately separated from her cousin with whom she had traveled to the USA. Ima was taken to one house to work, while her cousin was taken to another. The owner of the house, a woman, listed the new rules to Ima; these rules included an overwhelming amount of housework as well as being forbidden to talk to anyone. After 3 years, Ima finally reached out for help and wrote a letter to the woman who worked next door. This woman, another nanny, arranged Ima’s escape. The neighbor took Ima to the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) in Los Angeles. After 3 weeks, she was transferred to a transitional housing program called Alexandria House for women and children.
Through the programs with CAST and Alexandria House, Ima learned to read and write in English. In 2005, Ima joined a leadership development program offered by CAST called the Survivor Advisory Caucus, where she discovered her innate leadership abilities and learned how to be an advocate.