Police in London revealed a troubling story Saturday when they arrested a man and woman for holding three women captive for over three decades. It is unclear how it all began, as details are just being released. The women were freed back in October and an investigation has been ongoing. Police rescued women from brainwashing with the help of Freedom Charity.
The suspects are both 67-years-old and are charged for holding women in their home as domestic servants. The women were not physically restrained in the home but were kept captive by the psychological control the suspects exerted over them. Police described it as a situation in which “invisible handcuffs” were used to keep the women there. Neighbors reported believing that those living in the home were just a “normal” family.
The situation was uncovered by police due to a call one of the woman made to Freedom Charity. It is an organization that fights against forced marriages. Annetta Prem, founder of the charity, described the contact initiated by one of the women as “a one-chance call to make a difference.” Like many other women and children who have been held captive, these women needed support and to feel they could trust their rescuers in order to escape their desperate situation.
Police told news that the women being held were a 30 year-old British woman, a 69-year-old Malaysian woman and a 57-year-old Irish woman. This had been going on for over 30 years before police rescued three women from brainwashing that was taking place in a South London home.
Two of the women ended up in living domestic servitude after meeting the male suspect whom shared the same “political ideology” according to Metropolitan Police Commander, Steve Rodhouse. Initially, they chose to live together and it is not yet clear how the situation transformed into a case of domestic slavery.
One of the women may have been born into this emotional captivity and endured emotional and physical abuse her entire life, reports police. It is suspected that she may have lived with the suspects and the other captives in their home since birth. The only documentation discovered for the 30-year-old was a birth certificate.
Police said they are unsure of whether or not there was any sexual abuse involved but that the women were subjected to “beatings.” Metropolitan Police Commander Steve Rodhouse indicated that this was not an easy case because “it is not as brutally obvious as women being physically restrained inside an address.” He reported that investigators are trying to determine what allowed the suspects to control the women.
Similar stories usually generate the same questions. How exactly are people capable of controlling the minds and behavior of another human being? It is frequently more understandable when the case involves a child. When several people are involved there is often concern if not all of them can leave together. One victim feels as though they are abandoning others and would perhaps, suffer worse because of it. This is a realistic factor in this case as the 30-year-old may not have known another way of life and unaware of her ability to leave.
Since this case became public, Prem of Freedom Charity reported that they have “received five times as many calls in 24 hours as we normally do in one week and are needing to increase our resources to cope with this extra demand.”
The women’s identities are being protected since the police rescued them from brainwashing. The women are still being questioned at an undisclosed location by police trained in trauma. Now the three women’s road to recovery begins.
By Lara Stielow