Restore NYC



I typically don’t get off work at the massage parlor until 11pm. Many times I am just starving. I didn’t know what to eat and sometimes the other worker leaves me some food like grapes or an egg. I didn’t have money to buy any food so I collected bottles of recyclables to sell. I can make $10 per bag but my boss didn’t want me to put the big trash bags near the parlor, so he yelled at me.

I found this parlor through the job board at the local Chinese grocery store. It said they would train me so I applied. But when I showed up, they just took my ID and told me to go work.


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Sometimes, the customers tried to assault me sexually. The first customer I ever worked with – I served him for an hour. I just did massage. Usually the customer is just face-down. But suddenly after an hour, I told the customer – 1 hour finished, only 15 minutes more – and he turned around and asked me to give him a “happy ending”. I told him “no, only massage”. The customer got upset and said no more, and I didn’t get any tip for that work. That was the first time.

There once was a customer waiting over 40 minutes. I got into that massage room and worked there for 10 minutes. The customer turned face up again. I said “no, face down, don’t look at me”. The customer said “no” and then asked me to do some really inappropriate things. The customer started to touch me, I didn’t know what to do, so I continued to serve him. I only did 20 minutes and didn’t get paid.

I wanted to quit, but the boss doesn’t allow me. The boss said, “you need to find a new person to come and then you can leave”. Boss didn’t ever want to pay me. I served one customer for 3 hours but only got a $5 tip. I can’t get my ID back, and he told me I won’t be able to find other work because of what I did and because I have no papers. I felt ashamed. That was all I thought I can do.

But then one day, the police came and arrested everyone. I was brought to a court and to Restore. Before Restore I didn’t know about my rights or how I could find safe work. Finding work is still hard but I am glad I met people who I can trust and ask for help.

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*Name has been changed to protect identity.