Ana Laura thought running away with her boyfriend at the age of 17 would result in a happily every after, but their love didn’t last long and she found herself alone and homeless in Mexico City.
After trying to find a safe place to live, a kind woman who owned a dry cleaner with her family, offered her a stable home.
That home, however, would soon turn into Ana Laura’s worst nightmare and it would last for five years. For that reason, Ana Laura now calls herself Zunduri, which means “beautiful girl” in Japanese.
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At first Zunduri was so moved by this woman’s kindness that she started calling calling her “mom” – but this would backfire on her.
Zunduri felt so close the woman that she started helping her, the woman’s husband, two daughters and sister run the family dry cleaning business. As time went on, the work increased daily and the food decreased to the point where she was ironing from 16 to 20 hours a day and only consuming water.
In one instance Zunduri went five days without eating. She started chewing plastic bags from the dry cleaner and taking water from the iron to survive.
The abuse was not just physical, but verbal and mental as well. “The first time she started kicking me. Then she said, ‘You have no right to talk back because I’m like a mother for you. If you call me ‘mother,’ you have to understand that mothers discipline their children,'” Zunduri said.
“She always tried to put things in my head like, ‘Your mom doesn’t love you. If she loved you, she would be here with you. If she loved you, she would’ve taken you back. The guy you left with didn’t love you either. He couldn’t stand you because you’re worthless as a woman,'” she said.
Just when Zunduri thought she couldn’t endure more torture, she was chained.
The chains were wrapped around her neck, but then moved to her waist so she could continue to iron. On top of that, every member of the family took turns burning her skin and face with an iron.
“Her captors would peel off the scabs from her skin. When she was healing from her burns and scabs would appear, they would yank them off so that they would bleed again,” said human rights activist and close friend of Zunduri, Karla de la Cuesta.
After being chained for six months, Zunduri was able to escape in April 2015 when she realized her chains were slightly loose.
The physical damage went well beyond the surface.
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When her body was examined, doctors discovered her organs resembled that of an 80-year-old.
Authorities raided the house where Zuduri was held captive. All five members face up to 40 years in prison.
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The family of captors was arrested on charges of human trafficking and exploitation.
Zunduri is celebrating her first year of freedom and has become an activist to tell the world her story.
CREDIT: @TE_INTERESA / TWITTER
Read more about Zunduri’s incredible story here
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