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How Being A Mail Order Bride Ruined My Life

Updated on July 13, 2009

Daughters of Captivity 

Many turn to international marriage brokers (IMBs) to find and American husband who will help them escape poor economic and social conditions in their native countries. Often they speak little or no English, are much younger than the men, and have no idea what the customers are being led to expect.


An estimated 15,000 women, often with children in tow, put their trust in these businesses each year and enter the United States to join American husbands.


I decided to check out what all the fuss was about and went to one of these IMB sites and discovered that finding your personally custom bride is like ordering a cheeseburger! Eight years ago, when I found my spouse online at a regular social site, there wasn't anything like the detailed specifications of a spouse available. Even on adoption sites, pictures of kids and specific information aren't divulged until you have gone through the arduous elimination/qualification process.


Here is an excerpt of Nataliya's Story from the Tahirih Justice Center site:


Nataliya, a native of Ukraine, was a successful civil engineer. She trusted Encounters International, a large international marriage broker (IMB) agency, to find a life partner. Nataliya was paired with James, an American, and was told by the agency that he was “the best of the best,” “financially and mentally stable,” and “serious about family.”

Soon into the marriage, Nataliya realized that James was a violent man. When she confided to the agency that James beat her and went into wild rages, Nataliya was told that this was “normal,” that American men were “prone to violence.” The violence escalated and became much worse after Nataliya became pregnant. After an especially brutal encounter three weeks after the birth of their child when James put a gun to her head, Nataliya went to the emergency room, where a nurse told her that she had other options.

Nataliya escaped to a domestic violence shelter, where she found safety and was referred to Tahirih. Tahirih successfully represented Nataliya’s case and on May 29, 2001, Nataliya’s petition under the Violence Against Women Act was approved. Nataliya’s suffering led Tahirih to recognize that the role of the IMB agency in facilitating the abuse was part of a larger problem. Tahirih partnered with Arnold & Porter LLP and brought the first lawsuit in the United States against an IMB. In November 2004, after a two-week federal jury trial, Nataliya won, marking the first time an IMB was held responsible for its role in enabling the abuse of a foreign bride.

At least a dozen cases of mail-order bride murders or attempted murders and scores of abuse cases have come to light in recent years. Most of these cases have escaped public attention, so I am bringing it to light today. Domestic violence isn't the only risk. There is a potential for human trafficking through seemingly legitimate marriage brokers and it's at the point of being a very serious threat to our nation. Among the fears is that brokered marriages may be a convenient method of importing house-cleaners and sexual servants.

What do you think?

Have you been a victim of violence?

See results

Abuse to Women Across the World


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    • AsherKade profile image

      AsherKade 8 years ago from Texas

      my followers on agreed.I was appalled by this story and HAD to shed some light on it. Did you go to these IMB pages?! How ludicrous!!I am not criticizing the women, because sometimes you will go to desperate measure to get away from a country that sees you as second class citizens or a piece of property, or maybe you want your children to have a better life in America.But, us Brothers shouldn't take advantage of these wome's vulnerability and desperation!

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      And we claim to be a civilized society? Everything is being commercialized to the extent that we undersell our own self worth for a few dollars and a promise of a better future while depending on an outside source. This is a very sad state that we have come to.