Sometimes even basic medical needs would appear to be a gift or indulgence for

Sometimes even basic medical needs would appear to be

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Sometimes even basic medical needs would appear to be a gift or indulgence for the women after the depriva- tion they had endured. “She used to buy me pills [for the headache], and give me them to me. The ones in the little packets that they sell at the store. The two ones, the Tylenol.” “Her brother, the doctor, did not know [that she was treating me badly] because in front of him the lady would treat me nice.” Demonstration of omnipotence. To keep their victims under control, traffickers claimed powerful connections to law enforcement, immigration officials, or deities and created a situation in which resistance seemed futile. “He was a witch, that’s what he said. So he had me controlled by his life.” I used to think that she could put cameras; that is why I did not watch a lot of television. She had me very intimidated and I was very afraid because she always used to speak about the power that she has here. At the house she used to have me [believe] that the cops were looking at me. When she used to travel she used to leave me alone and then she used to say, “When you go outside they will let me know. And in the back there was another officer and he too is taking care of me. And if you use my phone it is being tapped by the officer.” She said, “You can’t run away and you can’t transfer to other person. If you want to work for anybody you need to finish first your ten years for me and then after ten years, you can go home. But you can’t transfer because I’m the one who bring you here, so I’m the one going to bring you back to [home country].” Such tactics created paranoia and fear in the women, making them doubt their own sense of reality and sanity, as well as demonstrating that they were not in control of their own fate. Degradation. Another powerful psychological tactic traffickers used to control the women’s behavior was degradation, in which the victims were insulted and humiliated, denied privacy and dignity, and reduced to animal level concerns without power or control over their lives. “It was very painful, because he was treating me like a dog, saying the words you say to a dog . . . Always there was someone in the house insulting me, like I’m not a human being.” “She scolded me. Repri- manded me.” Sometimes we had miserable headaches—when we used to have headaches or stomach aches, they used to tell us, “It doesn’t matter, you need to work like that. She humiliated us . . . to have sex when we were on our periods. And this had never happened to me.” The most I dreaded is washing the window, because I afraid of height. The wall is window of [glass]. And she want me to clean all the way to the top and it’s just the scariest thing for me. Most of the time, I was crying because I’m afraid of height, you know? I have no choice, you know?
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  • Spring '08
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