Travels from: Boston, MA
Micheline Slattery was born to a prominent political family in Jacmel, Haiti. After being orphaned at the age of five, she was sent to live with her aunt and uncle in a town nearby. As often occurs among rural families in Haiti, Micheline was forced to work as her extended family's servant, or restavec, as a child slave is commonly called.
From age five, Micheline was expected to clean the house, wash and fold the laundry, and walk for miles to collect water. For nine years, if she failed to complete all her chores, she was whipped and beaten by her relatives. She still bears a scar on her left cheek from the time her cousin struck her across the face with a butcher knife. "I used to think that I was bad, that this was the life that God chose for me," she says.
When she was 14, Micheline was trafficked to Connecticut to serve as her cousin's slave in America — performing domestic chores and taking care of her three children. Her cousin permitted her to attend school, but never allowed her to go anywhere else. While at home, she was still a slave. Micheline never received compensation for her work and, when she took a part-time job, her cousin confiscated her wages. It took several years before Micheline was finally able to leave and resettle in Massachusetts, where she now works as a nurse.
Micheline has testified before the Massachusetts State Assembly, spoken at the International Women's Day reception in Massachusetts alongside Dr. Swanee Hunt, former US Ambassador to Austria, and been featured by The New York Times, BBC Radio, and Marie Claire
"It's not something I will ever feel free and comfortable talking about, but I do it because I think it will make a difference," Micheline says. "I want people to understand that it's happening. If they need to see a face, see mine."
Read Micheline's chapter in Enslaved.