Trafficked is about a 17-year-old Moldovan girl whose parents have been killed is brought to the United States to work as a slave for a family in Los Angeles.
Take it away, Kim...
Almost ten years ago, I was reading the newspaper and a story caught my eye. It was about a girl who was kept as a modern-day domestic slave in America. The article estimated that thousands of people were kept in people’s homes as slaves in America. It happened everywhere, in over 90 cities in America. In many cases, it happened in immigrant homes because they had the connections to bring girls from their countries.
There had been a lot of talk about people being brought over and used as prostitutes, which was horrifying, but seemed so separate from my own life. It was easier to ignore. But now I thought about my own neighborhood in Hollywood. My neighbor had a young woman living with them, cleaning and taking care of the kids. How did I know she wasn’t being kept as a slave?
As I read more, I learned that the girl in the article had many chances to escape. Neighbors saw her. She could have walked up to them and asked for help, yet she didn’t. I needed to know why.
At the time, I was teaching English as a Second Language part-time while working on another novel. I loved my students and thought about how horrible it would be if one of them found themselves enslaved in someone’s home. Would they ask for help? Or would they just stay in the horrible situation, hoping it wouldn’t get any worse?
After doing more research on the topic, I found that in every case, the girls had the possibility to escape at various times and they chose not to because they were afraid. They had good reasons. In all cases, the traffickers had physically and/or sexually abused them to keep them afraid. Often, the traffickers had threatened to hurt their families back home if the girls escaped. The girls also feared America itself. They feared they’d be sent to jail for entering the country illegally. They didn’t know where they’d stay or how they’d eat if they left. They feared people would find out what had happened to them and they felt ashamed.
I saw that modern-day slaves weren’t different from any of us who fail to do something because we’re afraid. We all build boxes around ourselves, limits, and say this is as far as we can go. This concept was what eventually made me drop my other novel and work on this one. I wanted to explore the concept of fear and how one overcomes it in the context of modern-day slavery. I felt that it was a metaphor for all of us. We limit ourselves every time we don’t speak up when someone treats us cruelly, every time we say we’re not good enough to do something we want to do, every time we say, “I can’t.” I thought that maybe if I could guide a modern-day slave to find a way out, as some of them do, that maybe I could find a way for anyone to get beyond fear, including myself.
This was the beginning of TRAFFICKED.
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