When San Diegan Hazel Mae heard of the Santa Ana woman who claims she was held hostage and raped for ten years, her own traumatic history came flooding back.
It forced her to remember the day she was beaten into submission by her friend’s father and forced to work in the sex trade, she told NBC 7.
For three months, Hazel Mae had worked for the man as a legitimate secretary for his window washing business. But at age 17, she moved into his spare bedroom – away from friends and family.
Then, the horrible truth was revealed. He told Hazel Mae he was a sex trafficker and said he owned her. From then on, he cut her off from access to phones or computers.
“When things got hectic, nobody knew to come looking, and nobody did come looking,” said Hazel Mae.
The man forced her to work from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. as a sex worker, and she was only allowed to eat when she put $2,700 dollars in her captor’s hands. That was every two or three days.
“They control how much you sleep. They control when you use the restroom. They control when you eat and what you eat, and in a sick twist, they’re the ones that feed you,” said Hazel Mae.
She said she tried time and again to escape, but when the attempts failed, things got worse each time she was dragged back.
Finally she quit trying.
Four years into her captivity, Hazel Mae said the man moved her back to her hometown, ten minutes from where she grew up.
And that’s when she got her chance. Her captor left his cell phone behind after they got into a physical fight.
Hazel Mae called one of the only numbers she had memorized and left 20 minutes later.
But her escape was only the beginning of a long, difficult path toward recovery – something the alleged Santa Ana victim will soon discover, Hazel Mae said.
“She’s going to need other survivors to come alongside her and show some camaraderie and love so that she’s not alone,” she said.
Hazel Mae explained most people cannot begin to understand the level of abuse and psychological damage done to victims to maintain control. And yet, there’s still hope.
“There is healing. It’s not – it’s not permanent. The damage is not permanent. What happened to her and what happened to me are not who we are. It’s just what happened to us,” said Hazel Mae.
That’s why Hazel Mae decided to share her story. She said she wants to lend encouragement to the woman who says her mother’s boyfriend held her captive for the past decade.
Isidro Garcia, 42, is accused of locking the then 15-year-old girl up in a garage, sexually assaulting her and forcing her to marry him and bear his child.
Garcia’s attorney disputed the accuser’s account, saying she had her own motives for making this up and lying about the physical and sexual abuse.
The suspect was charged with one felony count of forcible rape, three felony counts of lewd acts on a minor and one felony count of kidnapping to commit a sexual offense, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office.