December 2nd, 2010
11:59 PM ET

Held as slaves, now free

Scott Bronstein, Amber Lyon and Alexandra Poolos

Newark, New Jersey (CNN) - They arrived in the United States from West Africa, young girls held against their will and forced to work for hours on end. This didn't happen hundreds of years ago.

Nicole's journey started in 2002, when she was barely 12, in her small village in western Ghana. She and about 20 other girls were held in plain sight, but always under the watchful eyes of their captors.

Related: Surviving slavery

"It was like being trapped, like being in a cage," said "Nicole," now 19. CNN agreed not to use her real name.

"I always have to behave, behave, behave, behave. No freedom at all."

The girls' families sent them to the United States after being assured they would receive a better education. But once they arrived, they were forced to work in hair braiding shops across the Newark area - just a short drive from New York City, right in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.

The girls, who are now young women, have never spoken publicly before, until now.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • Alexandra Poolos • Amber Lyon • Scott Bronstein
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Michaela

    They need to take their money and be deported. Just like they would if they were mexicans.

    December 3, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  2. Carolina

    This is more prevalent then you know

    December 2, 2010 at 7:45 pm |
  3. danita ross

    We send troops all over the world to assure our freedom and this happens on our own soil. Maybe we should tend to our own first.

    December 2, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  4. Jenn Watson

    There are flexes in USA as well. I'm a white girl from Az. My boss likes to mentally & physically abuse me. She bought me consolation gifts to apologize but memories do not fade. She didn't pay employee taxes or take taxes from my check and now I have no Job history for four years. She told everyone I was her girlfriend and I am not gay. She is gay. I was fired 9 months in a row. I only got two vacations by myself in which I was harassed by text the whole time. I did travel w her and she called those my vacations. You CAN be a slave in America because you have bills to pay you suffer through alot of crap. I was paid well but the abuse wasn't worth any of it. She was a white naomi Campbell and I have journals from the last four years documenting her borderline personality abuse towards me. It was so bad that I finally got away. Moved to Hawaii to get as far away as possible. Then when she found out where I went, she still harassed me. She's threatened me with 1099's and I'm telling you now if she does, I'm filing slavery and abuse suits. My doctor told me if I didn't get away from her I was going to have a heart attack. She completely isolated me to the point I had no friends and couldn't talk about my family. She constantly told crazy stories to her family and others about me that were not true. She says she is in rehab now but I believe that is a lie Also. I have finally gotten another job and you have no idea how stressful it was to fill out applications knowing I have no job history and fearful of repercussions still.

    December 2, 2010 at 3:59 pm |