Beatings, Isolation and Fear: The Life of a Slave in the U.S.

"We've had cases where people have been victimized and forced into domestic servitude for more then [a] decade," Kim explained. "Think about how much … a person could save if they didn't have to pay for house cleaning, for cooking for babysitting services for that period of time."

'Lured to America With False Promises'

Some slaves are simply kidnapped and slipped across U.S. borders. Others -- too poor to pay off the transport fee of ruthless smugglers -- work for months to pay off the debt. Some are enticed by work or tourist visas, only to be forced to work for little or no pay.

Kim said some victims are "being lured to America with false promises of a good education, a good life in America and being forced to cook, to clean, to care for one's children, forbidden from leaving, often beaten, often sexually abused."

"We've had terrible cases of victimization in almost any category of human misery that you can imagine … working in the fields, working in homes, working in sweatshops, producing for garment factories and working in brothels.

"These are terrible, terrible, terrible cases of victimization, and the worst of it is, the victimization is ongoing," Kim explained. "It's not one time -- that would be bad enough. It is over and over and over again, sometimes for years."

Their captors control them with the threat of arrest or deportation, or as in the case of Chumbow, with beatings.

Victims of slavery often cannot speak English, and sometimes they cannot read or write -- factors that magnify their isolation. And with no friends or family nearby, for all intents and purposes -- they don't exist.

Cases From Coast to Coast

To escape their situations, many slaves eventually run away from their captors and find help through the dozens of support groups focused on ending human trafficking throughout the country. Alert law enforcement and neighbors also bring attention to suspicious situations.

A recent case involved a girl brought from Egypt to work seven days a week for a wealthy couple in Irvine, Calif. Federal prosecutors showed a home video at the couple's trial, showing the girl cleaning up after her masters' family while everyone else, including children who appeared to be about the same age as the Egyptian girl, enjoyed a birthday party.

In another case, two Milwaukee doctors were sentenced to four years in prison for enslaving a young Filipino woman for 19 years. She lived hidden in a basement storage room of the doctors' upscale home, allowed upstairs only to work as a servant.

"I think most Americans would be saddened and shocked to know about the extent of this problem," said Kim.

Victims Treated to Legal Assistance

Once freed, the victims of slavery try to piece their lives back together. There are dozens of support groups around the country to help them get education, employment and counseling.

"These clients are not viewed as criminals, even if they are in the United States illegally. … They should be given rights as victims of a crime. The federal government should view them as victims of a crime. We certainly view them as victims of a crime," said Orhant.

"There are criminal laws that have been set out and created and have been passed to assist these individuals. There's immigration laws that have been created and established to assist these individuals and that's what we do," she continued.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...