Slavery in Armidale – a Cult of Victims Rescued.

For those who missed it, Australian authorities recently rescued 6 women from a man named, James Robert Davis. He had enslaved these women for several years. According to the women, they were living under slave-like conditions. Additionally, they were forced to have a slave contract, they had to wear a slave collar, and have a slave tattoo! As a result, these were symbols of belonging to Davis, their abuser, and captor for several years.


The woman “was coerced, manipulated and threatened to be involved in a bondage lifestyle where there was alleged coercion and control”, Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Justine Gough told reporters on Tuesday.


Therefore, these women were victims of human trafficking. As they were coerced from their home and taken to a farm as the property of another human being. For more details on the incident that took place in Armidale:  click here.

One of the women has admitted that she didn’t realize she was a victim of abuse at the time. Even though she experienced years of physical and sexual abuse by Davis. And she had all her rights taken by him. But she failed to recognize the reality of her situation. Apparently, Davis quickly severed ties with Felicity Bourke’s family shortly after dating and started to abuse her. Another technique used to isolate victims of slavery.


“We were probably together about four months when I remember him punching me in the face in a street,” Felicity said. “And he was like, ‘If I can do this here, where everyone can see, imagine what I can do to you at home.’

“It used to escalate quite quickly … when I had an opinion.”

For more details on Felicity’s story as a victim of slavery: click here 

Stockholm Syndrome and Slavery

Stockholm Syndrome can be quite common in slavery. This syndrome occurs when hostages or victims of abuse form bonds with their abuser or captor. Often, the connection doesn’t occur immediately. But over the course of several months or even years of abuse and captivity. Some victims of the Armidale cult suffered from this psychological response. 

The abuse Felicity continued to endure only got worse as the years went by.  She was forced to carry out Davis’s every wish in fear of what he would do to her. The psychological torment that victims of modern slavery can endure is one that takes a very heavy toll on them.  They lose their own sense of identity and independence because they are so used to their circumstance.

For more information on the impact of human trafficking and The Freedom Hub’s fight to end modern-day slavery: click here 

By Natasha Lewis  – TFH USA Intern