Roseline is a former slave who is now free because of her courage and the help of a good samaritan. She grew up in Cameroon, Africa and when she was 14 she left her family to come to the United States, with the promise of education and opportunity. In reality ,she was forced to work as a domestic servant and nanny without any pay or respect. For two and a half years she endured physical and emotional abuse from her captors. Some people in the community even knew of her situation and did nothing to help her. They said they felt sorry for her but didn’t want to get involved.
One day in November she couldn’t take it anymore and decided to make a run for it. She ran down the hill from the apartment where she was held and called someone whom she thought would help her. She thought she had to hide from the police because her captors told her that American police were corrupt and that she should never call them. Although she almost lost hope, she held on. Today she is living her own life as a free individual. Roseline’s story is filled with heartache and suffering but ends with hope. She even helped her friend Christina escape a similar situation.
Her captors were prosecuted and plead guilty. They both received nine years in jail.
These days Roseline is filled with hope. She is married and a mother. She has a dream of becoming a registered nurse.
Roseline and Christine are still friends and living proof that though modern-day slavery exists, there is hope.
You can see the story of Rose, her friend Christina, and the Good Samaritan who freed them on 'Dreams Die Hard'.
Q: We’ll just follow you up; maybe you can tell us where we are and what we’re seeing.
A: This is Ridgewood Apartment.This area is actually called Post Gate Terrace and this is where I used to live right in, um, apartment, um, building 4003. I used to live right in there and I ran away from here.
"Q: Tell us about when you were living here. What was it like when you were here?
A: It was actually pretty hard, it was kinda difficult cause I had nobody to talk to, and I used to live in here an apartment. I can’t remember the apartment number but, right in this building I used to live in here and I would used to take care of 2 kids and sometimes their sister’s own kids as well. Basically that’s all I used to do, I just take care of kids and clean the house, do laundry and cook for them as well.
Q: When you felt you had to run away what were you running away from?
A: Well I, when I went to the bus stop around 11:45 in the morning and I went to drop off the little boy to the bus stop so he can take the school bus to school and I met a friend that used to live right in the next building and we were just talking. When we got to the bus stop and we started talking coming back from the house and when I went back inside the house I had trash, so I took out. Because I had a jeans when I went to the bus stop when I came back I changed because I know I’m gonna be doing house chore so I changed and I put on a short skirt and a little t-shirt so I went inside grabbed the trash and I was heading right to the trash can right there and right to the trash can and I met the same person--I met the guy that we were talking to the bus stop, I met him cleaning his car and I asked him what are you doing and he said he’s cleaning his car. While I was talking to him Louisa was driving right behind me so when she saw me and she started shaking her head so when I walk up she park right here and she started cursing at me and she called me a prostitute a hole (she may mean whore), all I wanted to do I wanted to have sex I’m planning to have go have sex with the guy that I was talking to before I, um, before I become pregnant she’s going to pack my things and send me back to my parents before I get pregnant so I can’t get pregnant into a house and me (bitch ?) and she called me all kinds of nasty names you can ever think of so I just walked inside the apartment. And I went inside and she fell on me and she still calling me names and cursing me out so I just keep on doing what I was doing and she just keep on yelling and (unintelligible) and so for some reason I my I wasn’t thinking anymore so it’s like my blood pressure was rising my head was like pumping inside so I had no shoes on no jacket (stumbles on word slightly) I didn’t think of anything so I just opened the door and I just ran out before as soon as I make it out of the apartment right in the there’s I wish we can go in but there is (cam man reflection in window) a door like a little corridor right in between I had a black out right there and I I fell down and I hit my head on some body else’s door so I can remember um some body asking me if I’m okay and I was telling the person (stumbles on word) it’s a male and I was telling him yes I am fine and he was like do you need help do you want me to help you I said no I’m fine I don’t need help or anything and (stumbles on word) I think he went back inside. So I laid down there for a couple of minute and I woke up so I didn’t know where I was going and I ran right upstairs and I went and sit right on the window, right up there and I was looking down so when I was looking down I was thinking what next to do so I sat up there from 12:00 like 12:15 to like 3:00 pm. I was right up there on that window so when I thought about one of her friend that is a very close friend of hers so what happened was that I just run up a hill down here and I run up from the hill and her friend lives right in those next building right there so I run down from there and her back door was open so I went right through into her backdoor and I was crying so I was crying and I talked to her that I tell her I said I do not want to go back there and she said that it’s okay and I should just stop crying.
Q: You were in America for a total of 2 and a half years before you escaped?
A: When I was living with them right when I was living with them I ran away from their house 2 and a half years and then when I ran away I went right down to the hill and I went to her friend and I was talking I was crying and telling her it’s like please don’t take me back to her I don’t want to go back to her place and she asked me what happened. I didn’t tell her and she already know part of it what happened I just I was just crying and when I was in there and she came down and she waited I wasn’t coming back and then she came out and come and then I saw her behind her friends backdoor and she’s telling me to come outside of the house and go back home and I tell her no so I run out of the front door and she followed me. So I went upstairs to her friends building and I was just hiding on the 4th floor and we just locked the door and just praying that hopefully she don’t come in there because I don’t know what I could have done if she was in there. I mean it’s like a lot of thought was going through my mind so I was just in there just hoping that she don’t come in there because I don’t know what I could have done if she was in there I mean it’s like a lot of thought was going through my mind so I was just in there just hoping that she don’t come in there she went upstairs I can hear her climbing the stairs and looking for me and she didn’t see me so she went back and I get out and then she when she saw me run out she started chasing me right behind so we were just running around the building until I just lost her somewhere round in the front. And I just told myself that I guess this is it I guess I just have to go but I don’t know where I’m going. So her friend that live right to the next building right there she saw me and she called me and she says that I should come, we should go inside and talk about this and we shouldn’t get the cops involved into this so I went to her place and she was talking to me and when I went there she sent me to go inside her house in the apartment and get her a pen. So when I went in there and she pick up the phone and called her and tell her that I’m there. So when she I know that that’s what she did, I went inside the apartment since I went through the backdoor I just went straight out the front door so I just run out and that was it. So I went across when he was drive and I just went across the car and he didn’t know that was me running. So I just went up to the town houses where we used to live before we moved down here and I was just crying walking around and then I saw this lady and I stopped her beg her for a shoes cause I had I didn’t have any shoes on and it was really cold and she asked me if I live around here and I say yes I do and she was like what size shoes do I wear. I said 7 and a half and she says that okay she wear 9, I was like it doesn’t really matter whatever thing you have I will take it and she says that okay because we were talking right in the middle of the road and she said okay stay right here I am going to get you some shoes. I’m going to look around and see if I have a shoe for you so when she walk I followed she was like I told you stay right here I’m going to get. I was afraid and I didn’t want them to see me so I just keep on following her and she went down to the basement so I follow her and I sat down on the stairs just waiting for her and she went and get a pair of flip flop and give them to me so I thank her and then I run out. And I just started walking then I saw a cop coming and I just acted like everything was okay because I was afraid I didn’t want to talk to the cop because of what she had told me in the house that she’s told me that America’s no good.
Q: But you were afraid when you ran out of the house because you’ve been told a lot of bad things?
A: Right I was told that America is not good is not a fun place to be if especially if you don’t have people or if you don’t have family members. So she told me that the cops are not very good they’re not friendly so I all those things that she told me is kinda like I have them all in my memory so I was afraid to even talk to a cop when I saw one. So when I saw the cop I just acted like everything was okay, of course I know that she had called the cop and they were looking for me so I didn’t want the cop to know that I was the one so when he drove by I just ran down to the hill to the Big K-mart shopping center. I was just walking around there doing nothing and when I wanted to go back outside to look at outside that was like around like 5 something I saw a cop in front of K-mart asking questions and I run back inside in the ladies’ room and I just sat down in there just waiting for him to leave and then when he leave I started just walking around K-mart. Then I was thinking there was her husband had a friend that they had their friendship had fallen out a long time ago because of some I don’t know some other things. My problem so he I remember he had given me his number long time ago if I had any problem I can always call him and he’ll be willing to help me so and I thought about it I had his number on my head so I didn’t have no change to call. So I begged somebody a 35 cents and I make a phone call at his job at first and they told me that he went out he’s out of town but he should be coming back that same day he was out of town for 2 weeks so he’s coming back that same day. So I was hoping that he comes as soon as possible and then I call again around like 8:30 at night and they passed me to him. And I was crying and I was begging him please come and get me around out of the house if you could and he said oh my God are you serious I was like yes I am. So I was really afraid and really I’m sorry, I was so scared and he said okay he say he just got back from town and he can’t leave the job right now if I can wait for him he’ll get off 11 he can only pick me up at 11:30. So I was like no problem I’ll wait so K-mart closed every body has to go out so I was I had no jacket I just have a flip flop and a little short skirt.
Q: And what month was this?
A: This was in November. This was in November and I was really cold and K-mart is not what it is right now then they have trees and was really bushy so um people was people have been killed there so many time. So I just stand outside and I told myself I really give up I don’t care whatever happen with my life right now I think I’ve tried my best running away and now I won’t do it again so I just went and sat down somewhere really dark and just have my hands put inside the t-shirt because I was really cold. And this man came and he was like you cannot sit right there, people has been killed right there you can’t be there you can get raped and things can happen to you and he said come and stand in front of the light where some body can see you I was like I’m really sorry I’m I think I’m fine right here. I don’t really care right now so he left and another female come again and talked to me and I was like, I can’t leave this place I really want to be here so I really can’t leave this place so she said okay if you’re not leaving this place I’m going to sit with you right here so I was like okay she was like why don’t you come with me and get in my car we’re going to wait we’re going to wait for who ever you’re waiting for and she said who are you waiting for. And I lied to her and said I’m waiting for my Daddy and she was like okay so why don’t you come with me and sit in my car we gonna wait for your dad whenever time he gets here. So I was like no I’m really sorry I can’t come cause I didn’t know her so I couldn’t go with her to her car and sit in there so she said okay I’m gonna get in my car and I’m gonna drive and I’m gonna sit in my car and you’re gonna sit here and I’m gonna wait until your Dad came and when Dad come and pick you up then I’m gonna leave. So she sit wait with me right there till 11:30 and the guy came and picked me up and I thank her and then she drove away and the guy took me to his place and they started making some phone calls and see who can help me out because he couldn’t keep me at his place.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about what happened how you got away and how old you were?
A: Well when she was on vacation that day and that day was her last day of her vacation. She was supposed to go back to work the next day so she had stepped out and I had took their daughter earlier in the morning to go to school and the little boy go in the mid day. So around 11:45 in the morning we left the house and we head down to the bus stop and I met a friend over there at a next door. Neville he was there with a little guy also so we were just talking and he was asking me where I’m from and I was telling him so we’re just waiting for the bus. It’s just like a number people standing on the bus stop just talking so the bus came and we put the kids in the bus and we started walking back home and when we got home he went to his house and I went to my, so when I went back then I had on a jeans and when I went back in the house I took off the jeans because I know I’m about to do my house chores. So I took off the jeans and put a skirt on and a t-shirt so the first thing I grabbed was a trash that was a bag of trash that has been full so I took it out and I saw him outside in his car. So I said what are you doing and he said he’s cleaning his car I was like oh okay. So it were I put the trashed, I dumped the trash and we started talking so we’re talking having a conversation and Louisa was driving coming behind us so when she saw me talking to him she started shaking her head and I just started walking away and I was going back into the house. And she came and parked in front of the building and she started yelling at me calling me all this nasty names and telling me that I was planning to go have sex with the guy. And if I want to get pregnant I can’t get pregnant in her house she’s going to pack my things and send me to my parents house so I can get pregnant over there so and she called me I’m a slut I’m a prostitute and she called me all these nasty names so I just opened the building and I went inside and she followed me inside still yelling and cursing at me. So I was just I went in the room and I was just walking around I didn’t know what to do it’s like my head was just pumping inside I’m just her blood is just rising up so I just came outside stood by the dining room. And she’s still yelling and cursing me so I just opened the door and run out with no shoes the moment I shut the door behind me I had a black out and I just fell and hit some body’s door and I can hear a man asking me are you okay and I say yes just leave me alone please and he was like do you need help I said no I don’t, so he went back inside and lock his door. And I laid down there for a couple of minutes and run outside the hallway and just run upstairs to the 4th floor and just stood up by the window looking at the ground and I just keep on telling myself that’s it that’s it I’m not going back in there, I’m not going back that’s it just like but I don’t have no where to go I know that but one thing for sure I’m not going back where I just came from.
Q: Tell me about what happened when you got to K-mart what happened at K-mart?
A: Well I ran down when I around like 3:30 when the kids got back in school and she realized that the kid walk home they both of them walk home by themself. And I did not came with them and that’s when she came out looking for me and I just run from downstairs to her friend’s apartment. When I went down there and I was crying and I told her I was like please I do not want to go back there and don’t make me go back there I said please don’t make me go back there so I was begging her and she said okay I should stop crying. She put me down to sit in her living room so I was sitting there and her phone was ringing so when her phone rang and she went in her room and pickup the phone. And then I saw her friend coming from the back door and she said I should come outside from the house and I was like no and I run out the front door went upstairs and just hold the door and stood down and just hoping that she won’t come upstairs and she run upstairs I can hear her foot running upstairs and she came and she didn’t find me. And then she went back down stairs and then I came back down and run out the front door and she saw me running so she started chasing behind me and we were just running around the neighborhood and one of her other friends saw me and she call me and she says that I should go inside and we can settle it down I can tell her that okay that’s it I don’t want to live with her no more I told her that no I’m not going back in the house and she said well we shouldn’t get the police involved in there because she’s calling the police now. I said but I’m not going back in the house and she said we should settle it down I said I don’t want to go back there and she says okay I should go in her apartment and get her a pen I said okay so I went in the apartment through the back door to get her a pen and she pick up her phone and called her that I’m with her and I’m in the house so when I heard I dropped the pen and I run out the front door. Before she got there I was already out of the house just running and I saw her husband coming back from work so I just ran through the husband in front of the car and went up the hill and just crying and just running away I was just running I don’t even know where I was going I was just staying away from them. And I saw this lady walking and I stopped her and I was crying and begging her for some shoes because it was really cold and I have no shoes on I had no jacket but a skirt and a t-shirt so I beg her for some slippers for some shoes and she says that she asks me if I live around there I say yes I do and she says that am I okay. I was like she asked me if I’m okay I was like yes I am but I was crying and then she says that what’s she ask me what size shoes I wear and I say I wear a size 7 and a half and she was like okay she wears a size 9 and it won’t fit me and I told her you can give it to me anything you have I will take it. It doesn’t really matter and she says okay that I should stay and wait for her she gonna get some shoes for me and I was there when she walked I would follow her and then she’d turn back she was like just stay here I’m going to bring the shoe for you and she walk I still follow her until she went down the basement and I follow her down there because I was trying to hide away so no body would see me. So I follow her and I stood on the stair way waiting and she went inside and get some flip flop for me and give it to me and I thank her. Then I started running away and I saw a cop coming and I started acting like nothing is going on like I’m a total normal person like everything is okay cause I didn’t want him to take me back where I just left so when he drove by me I just run down the hill and I went to um Big Kmart and I just walking inside, walking around. Uh I went to Kmart and then I thought about the husband had a friend that. I mean they used to be friend but they’re not friends any longer. So he had give me a number and tell me that any time I have a problem I should give him a call and he’s willing to help me, so when I thought about him and I was in Kmart, so I went and I begged some body for 35 cents and I went and make the phone call. I called his office and they said that he’s not in the office he went out for business trip and he’ll be back that same day he went he’s been out there for 2 weeks and he’s coming he was supposed to be back that same day but he’s not there yet. So I waited again I was just walking down, I wanted to go outside to look out and I saw 2 cops outside asking questions so I run back inside Kmart and I went to the ladies room. And I just went in there and locked the door and just standing there just waiting for him to finish what he was doing and then leave so I went there for a couple of minutes until I went back out and I looked and he was gone. So I just started wandering around and then I waited like around 8:30 pm I beg for another 35 cents. I make a phone call again and I called him and he was back and I started crying and I was begging him please come and get me I’ve ran away from home and he was laughing and because I used to call him and make jokes like that and he was laughing thinking that I was joking. So I was crying and I said I’m really serious and he was like are you sure I was like yes I am and he was like well I just got back right now I’m and I’m at work I can’t leave work till 11 and I won’t get there till 11:30. So I was like no problem I’ll wait for you outside whatever time you can get here I’ll wait for you, so I was waiting in Kmart until Kmart close, and everybody was leaving so I didn’t have no where to go and it was like really cold I have no jacket and I have a flip flop on. So I went I sat somewhere really dark so no body would see me because I was trying to hide away and I sat there and this first a man came and he says that what are you doing there? You aren’t supposed to be there people has been killed from that place. I mean are you are trying to get raped are you trying to get killed? I was like no I’m not trying to but I’m a sit right here I’m fine and he was like, come on let’s go you can stand somewhere else that there’s light so who ever you’re waiting for is going to pick you up where every body can see you. I was like I told him I said no I’m okay I’m fine where I am so he said okay and then he left at that point. I wasn’t thinking about being alive at all I didn’t care at that point what happened to me I have fight enough and I have given up. I didn’t really care what happened at that point so whatever I think he was saying I wasn’t really thinking about me then all I was thinking was that I’m really sorry for my parents to lose a daughter but I have given up right here so I don’t care what happen. So he left and another lady drove by and she came and she was like what are you doing there are you trying to get killed? I was like no and she was like are you waiting for somebody? I was like yes. She was like who are you waiting? I was like I’m waiting for my Daddy and she was like why don’t you go somewhere that there is light and wait for your Daddy there, I was like no I’m fine right here. And she says that but people have been killed in this place what do you want to stay here for I was like I’m okay she was like okay me and you going to wait for your Daddy so why don’t you come with me and get in my car and stay warm and we gonna wait for your Daddy me and you. I told her thank you very much but I don’t know you I can’t come with you into your car, so and she was like I won’t do anything to you I’ll stay. I know but it’s okay I’m, I’ll be okay right here.
Q: You didn’t trust her?
Q: Louis told me that either the couple you lived with either the husband’s sister or (Roseline: The husband’s sister.) was telling people Roseline is gonna get killed she’s gonna get killed over there some body needs to help her, did you (interrupted by answer.)
A: I didn’t trust nobody at that point, I just wanted to where I was sitting I just wanted to be there alone. So I have my hands put out from the shirt and just put my hands together inside the shirt so I can just feel my own body and be warm so and she said okay. She went into her car and she said I’m gonna get in my car and I’m gonna sit right here and I’m gonna wait until your Daddy comes and pick you up and then I’m a leave so she stood by there me and her waited it was like around 9:30 when she was there and she stood by sitting in her car and wait and wait and wait until like 11:30 the guy show up. And I turn around and I tell her I said thank you for waiting with me and she tell me she’s welcome and she drove away and I went and get in the guy’s car and he turn on the heat and keep me warm and take me to his place and he started making contacts to see who’s willing to take me because he can’t keep me.
A: Well she was always against them hitting or yelling at me because she was in the house as well so she didn’t like that I mean she would talk about it but she wouldn’t say much about it because she respect her brother and she didn’t really want to get into the business a lot but she would talk to other people outside about it and she was pretty she was a pretty nice lady so she was really against it.
Q: So really you were a slave in plain sight, all kinds of people could have seen and known what was going on?
A: One of her friend, even the friend that I run to her house she was even living with her and she told her that you treat some body else’s kid like that you know what if some body do your own kid like that. So her both of them fall out friendship because of me so because she didn’t she was she lived with us for a couple of month almost a year and she didn’t like the way she was treating me and that’s why she had to leave and there was a time that I was home and she wanted to do something so she have a little she have a little boy and she give me the boy if I can baby sit the boy for her and I was like sure and I baby sit her little boy and she give some money to Louisa to give to me and she never give me the money. During like Christmas time her friend bought me like fine like nice for birthday cause I have my birthday’s on Christmas day so she bought me Christmas present and a birthday present and she give them to me and some make up set and she gave it to me and I thanked her and I have them kept in the closet. I had put them on just once like one occasion that we went and I don’t know what I did to her one day and she just got really upset and when she call her kids and sent them to the closet to go pull out those things that her friend bought for me. And she tore them up in front of my face and mess up everything and have her kids step on it and she said that she was gonna burn them up so the kids were just tearing them all apart and just stepping on it so when they finish do that and she took them out. And I just picked them all and find a needle and thread and put them together and I called her friend and I let her know what had just happened and she says that it’s okay so she couldn’t do much about it because she don’t want to get involved in it.
Q: The whole time you were with them were you ever sick did you go to the doctor did they take care of you at all?
A: Uh uh. I never went to the doctor when I was with them. I mean I will go to the doctor but I’m going with her taking the kids because I’m there to look after the kids. But you know there was one time I was like really really sick I had like this terrible back pain that I couldn’t even walk I couldn’t breathe properly I was like really sick and (pause) it just happened one time I was like sweeping they um living room and I just fell started crying I couldn’t stand up any more and I was home with her cousin and her um older her sister so I was really crying and I was like I can’t breathe I can’t breathe and they had to rush me um to the um Holy Cross um Emergency room and we went there and they did x-ray I never knew what actually happened to me so they didn’t give me the result I was just taking pills and I had no result of what happened and what went wrong so the same thing the same illness came back again while I was in her sister place where Christina used to live we were all together with the kids because sometimes they go there for weekends so all of us were there together and the same illness came back again at me you know I was just crying rolling on the ground and she started calling me a witch she said I have a witch I’m trying to let the witch out and that’s why that I you know she’s going to send me back to my parents so I won’t die in her house so Christina was the one who had some warm um cloth and I put it in a hot warm water and have it put on it and just put a pressure on it so that day actually they didn’t take me to the hospital.
Q: How important were you and Christina for each other during all this?
A: I mean it was pretty important I mean whatever opportunity we got we just meet together and just we just talk, we thought about running but we don’t know where to go and how to do it.
Q: But you really when you did run you gave them all courage to do the same thing.
A: Yes I did.
Q: When they threatened to send you back to your family, did you not want to go back?
A: Well they would say that I wouldn’t say anything because it’s something that I’ve heard the saying like more often and they have no action taken to it so it’s like a number (another ?) words I’m hearing every day so I really didn’t bother about it I was just waiting till the day they don’t actually going to do that. Because this one time that her and her sister both of them was beating me up the same time and then I was open the door I tried to open the door so I can run out so she went her sister went and opened the door that I should run out that I should go so I started walking out and she came back and pulled me and dragged me and started hitting me that where do I think I’m going so.
Q: Now the bad guys Louisa and Kevin what happened to them?
A: Well I had a trial and there were um pleads guilty and they have uh 9 years in jail.
Q: Is that long enough?
A: (She laughs) well for me like I say that whatever I think they’re gonna do to them or whatever thing that like any punishment that they’re gonna give them it actually won’t do me it’s not doing me any good. It’s not taking away what they did to me. What they did to me that’s like I said that’s part of me it’s gonna stay in me so why don’t they stay in jail for 30 years. It’s nothing that still I mean that still don’t it don’t take away my pain. It really don’t take away my pain so I don’t really look at it like oh my God they’re in jail, I’m I’m okay now no, I’m still not okay.
Q: Was Kevin charged with sexual assault?
A: Attemptered (attempted ?)
Q: Attempted sexual assault? Did he get convicted of that?
A: (Nodding head) Uh huh.
Q: Tell me about your family, did you want to help your family?
A: I wanted to help my family I was so close with my family especially my sisters I mean we do so much fun things together like you know we help each other like doing home(work) when we get off school we do each others’ home works we help each other and we have my uncle would help us my mom would help us so it was like we have it’s a small family and we actually have fun being together so leaving them was because when I was coming here my sister didn’t want me to you know me and her were actually against it but I had to do it because I was told that I’m coming to go to school and I say it’s a bright side for me you know I really wanted to go to school so I’m a gonna go ahead and do it so I mean it was really hard it was hard leaving them I mean if if I can wish for anything I would wish to be with them or see them you know because I’ve you know I talked to them once in a while but ever since I got into the state I’ve never seen my sisters I mean they have sent me pictures but they’re all bigger than me right now and they are little little kids and but I will to see them in person.
Q: You’re 22 now have you seen your mom and dad since you left when you were 14?
A: No I haven’t seen my mom and dad ever since I got into the state and um they actually both of them passed away 2002 now my my dad passed away like February 9th and my mom was on Thanksgiving day so they’re like a couple of months apart from each other and they didn’t really know how much things happened to me so I because I never gotten that chance to tell them exactly what happened to me.
Q: A lot of people who’ve been in your kind of position are nervous because the bad guys can threaten their family at home… have you ever been nervous about what might happen to your family back at home?
A: I’m actually not nervous about it but I’m scared about it (slight pause) because back home we don’t have lawyers that they have here that you can let’s say take some body life away and get away with it over here you can do it and get away with it for a couple of months but not forever they will get you regardless but over there when you do stuff like that you get away with it and live your normal life you know no body. So I’m actually really afraid of my sisters you know I don’t want them I don’t want anything to happen to them because when something happens to them I’m here and they’re over there and I’m gonna be alone with out you know with out me seeing them and I don’t think I would want to live a life like that with no family no get to see no body, so I’m really I’m afraid what could happen to them.
Q: Any message if you could tell people about what happened to you… what message would you send?
A: Well in my situation if there’s any body that’s um the same or similar or the same situation as I was, I would say get out if you could you know any opportunity that you have just use it and get out of it, don’t think and don’t wait because that is the mistake I did. I waited too long and that’s what happened to me if I could have had the first thought that I said oh my God I need to get out of here and just get out, maybe all what happened to me wouldn’t have happened but don’t think if you know you can do it just do it and get out of it.
Q: What about messages to parents who really think they’re doing the right thing, can they let their kids go?
A: Well I will say if you don’t know some body don’t send your kids out you know don’t don’t do it make sure that you have a proper back ground. Or before you send your kids you have to know who you’re sending your kids to and don’t just hear that oh your kids is gonna go to school or they will do this to your kid and they just have them send out with out knowing who those people are because they will say it on your face they will make that promise but that promise but that promise will never fulfilled. They won’t do it.
Q: Tell us the importance of someone like Louis for you and for your friends who were freed?
A: Um I really appreciate what he did to us and I mean it took a lot of guts and a lot of courage for some body like him to do what he did because I know there are people out there like in the Cameroon in Cameroonian society people out there who can do it but they are afraid to do such a thing because that’s just how we are Africans that’s how we are we trying so much not to have our names out there so he really took a lot of risk and a lot of courage and we really do appreciate what he did to us and hopefully somebody out there will do the same thing that he did to somebody else.
Q: When you were sitting at that Kmart you’d given up all hope… you seem pretty hopeful now a days, what do you hope and dream and pray for now?
A: (She sighs/laughs) a lot of things (laughs) a lot of things um at first I want to get my education finished and hopefully one day by God’s help I will get to meet and see my sisters again and hope to get married and have my own kids so (laughs) have kids on my own so yeah.
Q: Your education what do you want to do with your education?
A: I want to be a registered nurse and um right now I’m working as a geriatric nursing assistant but in a couple of years to come hoping that I will be a registered nurse.
Q: When you see something like… the Lincoln Memorial…I’m inspired…the Emancipation Proclamation… where they freed slaves… when you see something like that now… what are you thinking?
A: (laughs) Pretty good (laughs) I mean, I think it’s good I think after all everything that happened actually make me strong so I can face anything that comes to me right now anything no matter how big or how small it is I I think I can handle it. I know I’ve been there so I don’t think anything can make me fear anymore I think I can handle it I think I’ve been on both sides so I can I can handle anything that comes across me.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: (laughs) Well like I said before whoever is in similar or the same situation or worse (slight pause) than what we went through (pause) if you can reach for help or if you can do it and find one out there just just get out (pause) don’t wait there’s so much things you can do with your life then just sitting in one spot and having all day abuse or doing nothing with your life so just just get out and find help people will help you they help out there.
Q: What did they tell your parents?
A: When I was living when I was still living with her my momma had a stroke (pause) and she say that she was going to send to buy a wheel chair and send it to my mom so my mom will be using it and she was just telling a lie she never did. I know.
Q: When Louis showed the video of your of you to your parents what happened?
A: Well at then I haven’t had (stumbles slightly on word) like phone contact with them then but I had like letters written to them and then they’ll write back to me and because there was a point that Louisa was hitting me and she make a statement saying that my dad had write to her and let her know that any time I did something wrong she can hit me that he gave me the right he gave her the right to hit me any time I did anything wrong because that’s a bad way to um make a kid understand um wrongs and right by hitting the the kid so she I remember she her making that statement so what I did was that I wrote a letter about it and sent it to my parents and ask if that was true and they replied back to me that they had never ever say that she can hit me that I never gave her a right that was a lie.
Location: At the Lincoln Memorial with Christy, another former slave
Q: So what are you thinking when you look at something like that?
Christy: It’s amazing. It’s amazing I know.
Q: Did you ever imagine something like this when you guys were not even free to leave the house when you wanted to?
Both: Uh uh .
Christy: We were blind then (Rose chuckles) nothing you know (pause) I mean we didn’t know the laws you know yeah. We didn’t know the laws it’s what they were telling us that’s what you know that’s what we knew. (Pause) Yeah it’s like you know we’re brain washed by them yeah.
Q: So when you see Lincoln and you know…we made sure no one else would be enslaved here, what do you think?
Christy: I think it’s amazing. Yeah. I mean it’s a good you know it’s job you know what he did is very very good you know yeah. I mean he’s you know he frees us from slavery free everybody who was slave.
Rose: I mean he fight (unintelligible) to make sure that it don’t happen. So.
Q: But that’s why people don’t believe people like you were ever enslaved here because we’re like wait a minute Abraham took care of that a long time ago but it didn’t take care of it in your case.
Christy: Because we didn’t know you know we didn’t know anything like this you know we didn’t know anything like this happened I mean it’s like we’re brainwashed so basically we didn’t know the laws we didn’t know the rules we didn’t know the laws we all all we are all we knew was you know what they were telling us so we’re pretty I mean pretty much brainwashed by them yeah by their words. And we believe you know all what they were saying.
Q: And that’s true for you too Roseline?
My name is Roseline uh it’s spelled R-O-S-E-L-I-N-E and last name is Odine 0-D-I-N-E.
Q: Where did you grow up and what was your dream when you were a little girl?
A: Well uh when I was still with my parents I always wanted to be a designer (laughs) and it’s when, I was in school back then I always s like make a little skirt a little blouse and do like knitting um just trying to create something so I always wanted to be a designer when I was there.
Q: Where is there? What country did you grow up in?
A: Cameroon I grew up in Cameroon.
Q: How old were you when you came to the United States and how did you come to be
A: Well I was 14 years old when I came to this state and the reason why I came here is because I was told that I was going to go to school when I came here but unfortunately when I get here it didn’t happen the way it was supposed to things change a little bit.
Q: A little bit?
A: (She laughs / coughing in back ground) well a lot (laughs).
Q: Where were you living and how did you come to the United States?
A: Well I was living in Cameroon and I was 14 when I came in the United State. Um, like I said the reason why I came here I came here because I wanted to go to school I was told that when I get here um they will send me to school but when that, when I got here it actually didn’t happen the way I was told um I was home just taking care of kids um cooking doing laundry and cleaning the house um I’m sorry. Oh when I was living with uh Louisa and the husband, I when I was like a week old in the state that’s when I started getting all my abuses like hitting yelling um cursing me. Oh this one day that um I slept and I got up like around 8 0’ clock in the morning and she hit me and yelled at me that I can’t sleep and get up that late and I was supposed to be up before the kids even get up and the kids were already up at 6 o’clock why was I still sleeping um so she yell at me and hit me for that that I can’t sleep late, that I have to be up before the kids.
Q: Did you get hit just at the beginning and then you learned their rules and then you never got hit again or how long did you live with them and how long were you abused?
A: Well I live with them for 2 and a half years and the abuse didn’t it didn’t start, it start like a week after like when I was like a week old in the state and it actually didn’t stop there so it’s something that it continue until the day I decided to run away. I can’t go like for a whole week without getting hit even once or twice I can’t a whole week can’t pass by so I have to get hit or yell and when I came my bed was in the kitchen it was actually a couch so I was actually sleeping in a kitchen when I came. And when I was in the kitchen sleeping that’s when the husband always like go to bed like really late at night um like mess less like 12, 1, 2 ,3 sometimes and that’s when like he started making like approaching to me, um and then he would call me like trying to sleep with me and I’ll be fighting like no I can’t do that and he’ll be like well I’m just trying to make you feel like a woman I’m no going to get you pregnant and I say no I can’t I can’t do that and it didn’t just stop there it just he just continuously doing that it gets to a point that I started going to bed with like double clothing whether it’s hot or cold I had to put on like jeans and sweatshirts and pants just in case I fall asleep he shouldn’t come to me without me hearing so I had to bundle up before going to bed, so um I was sleeping in the kitchen and like for a couple of months before the um uh send me to the kids room and they had like a bunk bed so I was sleeping on one of those with the kids together.
Q: So you were 14 years old you’re away from home? How in the world did you survive that?
A: Well I then I really don’t know what to do and I couldn’t think of anything at that point I just I was just hoping that one day it will stop because I tried everything I do everything that she wanted me to do I tried to make sure that everything is right so I won’t get yell or get beaten up but it’s unfortunate that everything I was doing it wasn’t coming up the right way so um either way I still get beaten by her or her sister.
Q: She had a sister who would beat you too? Why didn’t you just run away?
A: Um for some reason that at that point I didn’t think of it. I wasn’t even thinking of running away I was just hoping that one day it will stop, like one day I will be able to do what she want and I’ll do it right without her yelling or hitting me so I was hoping that it would stop I never thought of running away until when we moved down to um Post Gate Terrace that’s when running away started coming into my head but I never knew how to do it because I knew nobody, um and if I run away I don’t know where to go and where who to leave with not like you know she was telling me that um America is not a place to um like walk around on your own or you know you can’t talk to anybody on the road because America is not a good place even the police can’t help you. You know if the police catch you on the road they’re gonna lock you up and then have you sent back home, so all those things that she was saying I have them all in my head so I can’t do anything because I don’t have no body here I’m here alone so I couldn’t run away because I don’t know where I could go.
Q: How soon did you get to go to school and how much money were you making?
A: I never went to school when I was living with them and when I was living with them working with them and never they didn’t pay me that money I wasn’t getting paid and she told me that she would send money back home to my parents but I wouldn’t know because I didn’t I’ve never talked to my parents I don’t know if they’re sending them any money.
Q: So you didn’t get to talk to your parents?
Q: Who did you get to talk to what was your day like?
A: When I was there like I would get up in the morning like around 5 five thirty in the morning sometimes and 6 o’ clock like make breakfast and then at 6 o’clock get the kids up and have them ready for school. And once they go to school I would just stay home and clean and cook and do their laundry all of them in the house just do their laundry um when she’s not home I try to finish my work so I can relax a little bit but when she’s there I have to make sure that I’m doing something so I wouldn’t get yelled or hit if I have to sweep the floor 3 times I had just have to do something just because I don’t want to get yell.
Q: Did she hit you with her hand?
A: She would use her hand anything that she have on her hand she would use it at me she even had I was this one day I was cleaning and I was using Windex cleaning and she pull it away from me and she I don’t know she got upset with somebody outside and bring it inside the house and she started yelling at me and pulled the Windex away from me and spray it on my face. And so anything she have on her hand she would use it at times that um I had like real long hair and she like she said she will cut it off her and her sister hold me and tied me down and put a scissors on my hair and…
Q: What do you think was wrong with her?
A: I don’t know, I don’t know.
Q: What happened to your dreams during all this time?
A: Everything my dreams everything I I knew that everything just crushed down and I wasn’t gonna get it I wasn’t gonna reach it.
Q: The definition of slavery is forced to work under threat of violence with out pay and unable to walk away… what do you think about that do you think you were a slave?
A: I think I was, I think I was a slave. I think I was because if I if I sit back sometimes and I think about it and have like a flash back of it a it was terrible because they’re several nights and days and nights that I would sit all by myself and just think about things I could do with my sisters you know how we used to play together and I was just just cry cause I miss them and I would just just cry hoping that one day I will get to see them again.
Q: And after all this time it’s still hard huh?
A: Yeah. (she cries) I’m sorry.
Q: If you could see them now these people what would you say to them?
A: If I have a chance to say something to them, honestly I don’t know. I really don’t know because there isn’t because what they did to me I you know the clock can’t turn back it can’t change it can’t rewind so whatever damage it did to me, it’s already that’s something that I will stay with for the rest of my life if I think about it so (slight pause) even if I have to say something to them it won’t change what they did to me even if they have to say sorry it still won’t heal the pains that they did to me, so, I don’t really think I’ll have anything to say I don’t have anything I really want to see them I don’t think I want to I want to meet them in the same place that I am.
Q: A lot of people who go through similar things to you have a horrible time with it they have flash backs they have nightmares they feel sick… have you had any issues like that?
A: Well I didn’t have nightmares about it but for me like all what was happening to me was that I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep it’s it’s in a it’s really scary I couldn’t sleep even when I run away and where I was I have a room on my own but yet it’s very difficult I couldn’t trust no body and I could go to bed I won’t be comfortable even though it they tell me a hundred times you’re safe here no body will touch you here no body will do anything to you here but in my head I know that I’m not so it’s gonna take me like a long time it I mean it took me a very long time, for me to be trust for me to trust anybody and to be comfortable on my own, it took me a long time.
Q: Do you think you’ll ever be all the way over it?
A: I don’t think so, I don’t think so I mean for a moment I can stop not to think about it but there’s no that’s something that I can say I will take to my grave with me , I can’t forget that that’s something that I can’t forget even if I get married tomorrow and have my own kids I would tell them I that’s something that I won’t forget, I can never forget that, cause that’s actually whole part of me, that’s my whole life, cause I didn’t get to spend my teenage life like other teenage kids did so my was a totally waste.
Q: Now Louis tells me that you were the person who let him in to all this, can you tell me about that?
A: Well I was with his cousin I was living with his cousin then I didn’t know him then so I was living with his cousin so it was when I run away I didn’t want anybody to know where I was so I didn’t want to get involved with anybody I just want to stay somewhere with a cool head with out no body disturbing me so when it was thanksgiving time so when they came there and they were taking pictures all what I was doing I was hiding trying to stay away from the cameras and the videos because just in case somebody want to look at those pictures they won’t say oh I know that that girl she used to live here or there so I was trying to hide away and me hiding away I’m actually dragging attention to him so that’s how he started asking question about me.
You can see the story of Rose, her friend Christina, and the Good Samaritan who freed them on 'Dreams Die Hard'.