A couple of weeks ago I received an email stating that my talk wouldn’t fit into a certain theme because domestic abuse isn’t modern day slavery. Previous to this I didn’t say it was, but the event recognises different forms of slavery like sex trafficking and uses performing arts within it to get people to think and respond. I celebrate my freedom each year at this event because I felt like a prisoner; I was trapped, isolated and controlled.

I then started to think about the similarities between domestic abuse and modern day slavery and so I thought I would ask my Twitter followers as well as doing a bit of research. I also wanted to be able to respond appropriately. 

On the anti-slavery website it states this:

Slavery did not end with abolition in the 19th century. Instead, it changed its forms and continues to harm people in every country in the world.

Whether they are women forced into prostitution, men forced to work in agriculture or construction, children in sweatshops or girls forced to marry older men, their lives are controlled by their exploiters, they no longer have a free choice and they have to do as they’re told. They are in slavery.

At this point I was thinking perhaps the glove doesn’t sit exactly but if you read on:

Today slavery is less about people literally owning other people – although that still exists – but more about being exploited and completely controlled by someone else, without being able to leave.

This then made me think the glove did in fact fit better than I at first thought. 

So is it modern day slavery? Can it be categorised? Is it yes or no? Or is it a grey area and is it situational? 

Personally, it made me think about the abusive relationship I was in. I changed my behaviour to adapt to the controlling abuse I endured, I had to complete chores and if I didn’t I would be vulnerable to more abuse, if I didn’t have sex within a certain time frame than he would have sex with me whilst I was asleep or threaten to go elsewhere. Leaving an abusive relationship is difficult and dangerous and it isn’t as simple as just leaving. I felt that there was no escape and there was no help for me, the threats of what he will do if I tried to leave were enough to keep me for years. There were a lot of other factors I haven’t even shared yet, one day I will of course. He presented like he owned me, that I was his possession. 

But is it modern day slavery? 

I would love to hear your thoughts on the question so please do feel free to comment as I don’t have a definite answer or opinion, I think its a work in progress.

But can I speak at events about freedom? YES! I was stripped away of my identity and had become a different Jennifer to adapt to the situation I found myself in. I had no control over money, over everyday activities, over what I wore or who I saw? Now that I am free from that relationship, I appreciate life and how I have the freedom to make my own decisions. I feel blessed and have a new life, I have reclaimed who I am as a person.

Here’s the original tweet with the results along with some of the replies:

See the original tweet here

I never thought if it this way. Now, healthy, and sitting on my floor in a sort of shock, yeah. It totally could be…you need to do around table of sorts…

@kellys_author

Excellent question. My gut feeling is “yes!” Having been trapped for almost 8 years I know the feeling of “there’s no way out, no escape”. I hesitate to compare it to slavery with all its connotations but on the other hand… Yes.

@AnitaSGera

Absolutely – the intent behind it is so consistent in the cases I know about. Domestic servitude. subservience, being dehumanized, a chattel / prop. All about power & control and domination

@Tranzform

I think that depends on the circumstances really. Coercive control is used but at the end of the day that almost trivialises things as real slavery like sex trafficking etc and real slavery like sweat shops so I’m a bit on the fence there.

@PoeticJustice23

I guess to a certain degree it is yeah controlling someone to do what you want by way of threats intimidation etc yes I agree x

@kayleighw851

I answered yes to that and I will tell people why. Because I was also a childbride and I have analysed it deeply . ANYTHING THAT KEEPS SOMEONE UNDER ANOTHERS CONTROL AND IN PAIN = IS . If the other person is controlled without wanting to be so IT IS . Manipulative Slavery

@Infointeract

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