Exclusive: NYC’s Hidden World Of Human Trafficking

CBS 2 Sits Down With Woman Who Somehow Escaped Danger

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Many foreigners dream of coming to New York City and living a life of freedom.

But for the thousands of victims of human trafficking who are held here against their will, life is a living hell instead.

CBS 2’s Rob Morrison has the exclusive story of Eliza’s abuse and escape.

“Eliza” is 24, in hiding and scared for her life.

“I’m just scared of going out every single day,” she told Morrison.

Several weeks ago she says she escaped from the man who enslaved her for years, forcing her to work at an underground sex club in lower Manhattan. That man, her husband, threatened her with death if she ever left.

“He said, ‘nobody knows that if you gonna die. Nobody knows if you die because you don’t have any people,’” Eliza said.

She said they met in the Philippines when she was just 19 and he charmed her into thinking he was an American businessman who had fallen madly in love with her. She thought it was a dream come true when he proposed marriage.

“Yes, he’s good for pretending to be good guy,” Eliza said.

Human trafficking

Human trafficking (Graphic: AP)

But, she said, as soon as he got her out of her country, the physical abuse started and she quickly learned his business was sex and online pornography.

“After beating on me he said this is what’s gonna happen to you if you argue with me and you can’t do anything. I have your papers and passport. You can’t go anywhere,” she said.

Her attorney said it was all part of his calculated plan to dupe her and then control her.

“It was methodical what he did in anticipation of bringing her into this country on a visa to get married. He had already posted information on a website that she would be available to others,” Michael Wildes said.

Eliza said this drama unfolded in lower Manhattan and it was pure fear that kept her living and working there against her will. She said her husband threatened to hurt her family back in the Philippines if she left and, based on the abuse she suffered, she had no reason to doubt him.

Morrison: “He put electrodes on private areas of your body?”

Eliza: “Yes, that’s the worst thing that happened to me.”

Morrison: “And he tortured you until you went unconscious?”

Eliza: “Yes and I just wake up and don’t know what’s happening.”

Sonia Ossorio, president of the local National Organization for Women said human sex trafficking is big business here in New York City and this story is one of many.

“This is such a classic case. It’s absolutely amazing the degree that this happens on a regular basis and how open and blatant it is in our society and that we just don’t see it,” Ossorio said.

Eliza said she eventually learned she was just one of many of her husband’s victims.

“His first girlfriend, his second girlfriend, all of his girlfriends, he done all of this things to them,” she said.

Eliza was lucky. With a friend’s help and protection she summoned the courage to escape, hired an attorney and obtained a restraining order. But most others aren’t so fortunate.

“They have very, very few options to reach out to anybody or a sense there is anybody to reach out to,” Ossorio said.

Eliza’s attorney said she should be able to retain her green card through a battered spouse application. But she wants more.

“Yes, I want justice,” she said.

Authorities are investigating the allegations against Eliza’s husband, but no warrants have been issued and sources indicate he may have left the country.

  • Becky


    I am starting a residential treatment facility working with women rescued out of human trafficking. I would like to ask permission to use the photo of “Eliza” & her story in a powerpoint to spread awareness & raise support.

    I will give credit to newyork.cbslocal.com, & put the link to your site in the photo shot. Our website is hepzibahhouse.org, if you want to check out more information about us.


  • JP

    Look at the dude, all muscled up. Common denominator in most of the photos shown were of him flexing. Sure thing he is a narcissistic abuser of steroids, too, besides a sick tormentor of fellow human beings, no less, a female. Twisted individual.

  • justin

    There are good people in bad places and bad people in good places. Satyanam Muslims have been slaughtering each other for thousands of years under the disguise of a peaceful religion

  • Diane Conti

    Thanks for making that observation satyanam mahabir. Israel is the world’s largest center for underground internet pornography and sex slave trafficking.

    • Moshe Fuld

      I am more than sure that you have the data to back up your Anti-Semitic regurgitation?!? Please share your source so the rest of us can become as well-informed as you are.

      • Walter

        Unfortuneatly Diane is right. Israel has the largest underground porn and sex slave industry in the world. I worked there a few years back as an aid. It’s a complete mess, and apparently it’s not frowned upon by the local rabbis.

  • billy owens

    i live here in new york and the guys that are doing it need to be stopped ,but unfortunatly they will continue to abuse women forever the only thing the women can do is be a little mose cautious in who they choose as a partner.

  • satyanam mahabir

    They are not muslim,
    See even non-muslims are capable of such violence.
    Yet no country invades ours saying they going to ‘free the women’ etc

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