“We missed reaching your generation. But with our power and presence today, we are stopping further generations from suffering the fate of human trafficking,” an advocate for human trafficking victims said.
As my friend Amanda told me that, my heart shattered.
Because as I sit at my desk, writing this to you, hundreds upon thousands of girls my age never received the opportunity to live their life. Instead, they suffered viciously at the hands of lust, greed, and lies.
If you’re reading this and human trafficking has never affected your life, you’re blessed. But just because the issue never hit home, it doesn’t mean it’s something that we should avoid. When I was a high-school senior, the Lord weighed Proverbs 31:8-9 heavily upon my heart.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy, Proverbs 31:8-9.
Little did I know, that each of those positions the Lord calls believers to follow in, fits what a victim of trafficking lacks. And little did I imagine, that the Lord would eventually present me with a platform to write articles such as these to accomplish the command of speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves. But boy, did I realize how unaware I was of the issue until I went to college.
I didn’t know young children were sold.
I didn’t know they were crying for help in the shadows.
I didn’t know women were drugged and forced into doing things against their will.
I certainly couldn’t fathom a child forced into sexual acts.
But all the while, it has happened longer than I have been upon the earth.
While this is true, if there hadn’t had been a resurgence of trafficking cases and awareness tactics, I would still be unaware of its prevalence. And without awareness, there is no such thing as a hope for these victims.
Many people overlook awareness. After hearing about trafficking, they rush and desire to be in a rescue unit or law enforcement, catching the pimp.
That isn’t awareness.
Awareness is you and I heeding the call of Proverbs and speaking out for the ones still trapped in darkness. To do that, we have to take off our rose-colored glasses and look for the signs in our everyday lives. Looking for the signs of a trafficking victim can be done throughout our day-to-day lives if only we’re aware of what to look for.
I’m sure if you’re like me and have ever stopped at a rest stop for a potty break, you’ve seen the signs that read, “If you see something, say something” followed by a telephone number.
While easy to read, it’s hard to follow through if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
A few warning signs, according to Shared Hope International include: signs of physical abuse such as burns, marks, bruises or cuts, unexplained absence from school, sudden inappropriate dress or sexualized behavior, exhaustion, withdrawn, depressed, or distracted, bragging about making or having lots of money, displays expensive clothes, accessories, shoes, or new tattoo (often used by pimps as a way to brand victims).
That’s a lot to look for. Especially if you’re just an every-day Joe trying to get through your daily routine. But once you take time to know your normal, it’s easier to spot something out of place.
Many victims of trafficking are noticed due to their timid demeanor, lack of control of money, and are not allowed to answer for themselves – even though most would like to.
A lot of times we may have a conviction that something is wrong but we don’t what to do when we see something out of place. An easy solution is to call the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text “HELP” to 233733.
This hotline is run by the Polaris Project and is a tool for anyone who suspects they’ve seen trafficking or a victim. Since 2007, Polaris Project has handled over 246,267 calls, texts, or emails related to potential trafficking cases. These hotline stats are of utmost importance as they reflect the number of people who were aware of their surroundings and sought to find help for the person who was suffering.
Teachers, preachers, children, mothers, fathers, engineers, people stopping to put gas in their car, those who shop, the ones in class every day, firefighters, and cashiers – we all have a job to do when it comes to being aware.
All it takes is noticing signs, calling a number, and saving the lives that are crying out in the shadows.
To learn the signs of human trafficking, visit Shared Hope International.
To request a trained speaker, visit Shared hope’s event page.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27).