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Sexual Slavery in Indiana

Sexual Slavery in Indiana

Postby Happy Mom » Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:00 am

Sexual slavery in Indiana plays on mind games


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Robert King, Kristine Guerra and Tim Evans, tim.evans@indystar.com 12:44 a.m. EDT September 14, 2014
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(Photo: Kristine Guerra/The Star )

A woman forced to sign a sex-slave contract by a husband who tortured her.

A teen goaded into prostitution by a boyfriend who beat her if she didn't cooperate.

A woman abducted from the streets, tethered and caged by a man who made her his sex slave.


A woman in an arranged marriage held against her will by a husband who solicited men to pay for sex with her.

These startling examples of exploitation sound like stories from the international sex trade, drawn perhaps from the slums of the developing world. In fact, they are cases from Indiana — two brought to light only last week, two others just making their way into Indiana courtrooms.

The troubling scenarios — women fitted with dog collars, repeatedly victimized, fearing for their lives — hint at disturbing psychological forces at work in the minds of their captors. They also show how quickly and dangerously victims can fall under the domination of men they trusted.

Common to such cases are relationships that start off innocently, sometimes even happily, but quickly morph into something scary.

Experts told The Indianapolis Star that such perpetrators, typically men, exhibit a knack for manipulation — misrepresenting themselves at an online dating site, threatening physical harm or withholding basic needs. As they strive to maintain control, things often escalate to threats, intimidation, physical and sexual violence. They dehumanize their victims — keeping them like animals, depriving them of food and water. Yet they come to view their victims as possessions to be preserved at all costs.

"They just want what they want and aren't afraid to take it by force," said George K. Simon, a psychologist and expert on human manipulation. "Their attitude is that if someone else gets hurt along the way, well, so be it."

The byproduct of that manipulation — and of the abuse — is that victims, typically women, come to feel they are worthless, stupid and alone, said Laura Berry, executive director of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

"It's playing psychological mind games," Berry said. "Over a course of time, they begin to believe that."

Although rape and domestic violence are far more common, incidents of sex trafficking and sexual enslavement seem to be increasing. The most notorious case involved a man in Cleveland who kidnapped three young girls and kept them imprisoned in his home for more than a decade. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center received 120 calls from Indiana for sex trafficking from 2007 to 2013.

The most recent Indiana cases span the racial spectrum — black, white, Asian — and originate from rural areas and small towns to the most densely populated areas of our cities.

A Southside man who got a wife from India through an arranged marriage abused her consistently and kept her from talking to her family for years. Finally, two years ago, he began soliciting men to have sex with a woman he billed as "a teacher's daughter from India." He was convicted last month of sex trafficking.

A Westside man took a 15-year-old girl he'd been dating for three months into his control and began forcing her to engage in prostitution. For four days, he threatened to withhold food from her and threatened to harm her, even slapping her, when she refused to engage in prostitution. He's due to be sentenced this month for sex trafficking.

In southwestern Indiana, a man is accused of abducting a woman from the streets of Evansville and taking her to his rural mobile home in Stewartsville, about 10 miles from the Illinois line. Police say he kept her confined in a cage, tethered with a leather belt around her neck and another around her waist. Repeatedly, he forced her to have sex with him with the intention of impregnating her. Sometimes, he did so with his live-in girlfriend — a woman who relatives say also was living in fear — lying in the same bed. The woman managed to escape last weekend. The man faces charges of rape, kidnapping and criminal confinement.

In Seymour, about 60 miles south of Indianapolis, a man portraying himself as a Christian and a single father who had trouble meeting women found a wife on Craigslist. He is accused of forcing her to sign a sex-slave contract.

Court documents say he made the woman wear a collar and sometimes a box over her head to keep her in the dark. He subjected her to sexual torture, burned her with cigarettes, choked her until she lost consciousness and kept her tied for hours, forcing her to urinate on herself. The woman is a diabetic, and the man was the only one who knew how to operate her insulin pump. Under such domination, police say, the woman came to refer to the man as her "Lord" who gives her life. The man faces charges that include rape, criminal deviate conduct, strangulation and intimidation.

Under such harrowing circumstances, women may stay with their abusers or even join them in illegal activities.

"They often believe that they are safer to stay," said Simon, the psychologist. "The abusers make it clear that there is no escaping from their power and control."

For similar reasons, victims may join their captor in illegal behavior. They may believe their safety depends on participating, rather than challenging, the perpetrator. That was the claim of the woman living in the house in Stewartsville who slept in the same bed as the woman abducted off the streets.

"They go along to get along," Simon said.

Berry and Simon did not agree entirely on the root causes of abusive behavior.

Berry, the domestic violence expert, said everyone is at risk, but those who witnessed or experienced domestic violence while children are more likely to end up becoming a victim or a perpetrator.

Simon, the expert on human manipulation, saw things somewhat differently. Although many of the worst perpetrators claim, after they are caught, that they were victims of abuse themselves, Simon said the data do not bear out that claim.

"If you look closely at their histories," he said, "those claims often fall apart. What you will often find, though, is a history of senselessness and remorselessness."

In the end, Simon said, such deviance seems to be a rare but growing side effect of a culture in which permissiveness and entitlement are rampant and the most shallow, dehumanizing pornography — often with sadistic themes — is readily available online. In such soil, he said, society is growing more and more people with no capacity for empathy, who see a conscience as a weakness. Absent such a governor for their basest instincts, nothing is left to regulate their actions.

"The civilizing influences, in many cases, are totally absent," he said. "Often, it's what didn't happen, what people didn't get in their formative years in terms of civilized influences, that creates these monsters."

In that sense, Simon sees it as a crisis of character.

"The problem is we are raising too many people without the character structure needed to navigate life," he said. "It is the defining phenomenon of our time."

Call Robert King at (317) 444-6089. Follow him on Twitter at @Rbtking.

http://www.indystar.com/news/
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