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.
The pictures on my teen dating profile said it all. Actually, it would be more accurate to say it screamed it.
“I am a young, rebellious, and vulnerable teenage girl, who will do almost anything for adoration and praise. All you have to do is ask.”
Polls were on the sidebar… how beautiful do you think I am?
But teens were not the only ones on that site.
I was elated when I found a message from a ‘modeling agency’ in my inbox. I never thought that it was kind of suspicious that they would offer a minor a ‘job’ without parental consent. Nope. I just thought it was great. Hey, I mean their website looked legit enough.
Emotions overwhelm me as I realize I was spared. And it has nothing to do with myself at all. The glory goes to God. every last bit of it. I was so close to being sucked into a world I knew nothing about at the time.
Human Trafficking. Modern day slavery.
There is a lack of understanding, myths and misconceptions tied to this topic. My goal is to help you understand a little more about this subject. One, to be able to identify victims; two, to keep yourself from being one, and third, to open the eyes of men who are involved in supporting the sex trafficking industry.
While there are many forms of human trafficking (forced labor, organ harvesting, domestic servitude, debt bondage etc.) sex trafficking rises above them all.
We scratch our heads and wonder how this could be taking place in America – but it is. And not just in America, but worldwide.
Let’s start with the traffickers.
Who are they, and how do their recruit their victims?
A trafficker can be virtually anyone. A common misconception is that traffickers are often older men. This isn’t always the case. In fact, almost half of the recruiting is done by women. Sometimes the pimp (a sex trafficker that sells girls) offers a reward for the girl who can recruit her friends, so that explains some of it. But perhaps the other women are simply lured by money. We can’t be sure.
Traffickers aren’t usually hiding in dark alleys, waiting to abduct victims. In fact, this is one of the least common methods of recruiting victims. Instead, they will approach the victim in malls, bus stations, sporting events, shelters, group homes, on the streets and on social media.
Most victims know their traffickers, over half being involved in some sort of romantic relationship before exploitation. This is known as ‘grooming’, or love bombing’. The trafficker shows love and care to the victim, until they are extremely trusting, then they begin forcing the girls to do whatever they ask them to.
Identifying Trafficked Persons
When they are in the situation, they are brainwashed, confused, and traumatized, so they often don’t realize they are being trafficked till they escape.
Most victims don’t ask to be rescued, usually due to fear, threats and abuse. However, they might seek medical attention, immigration advice, counseling, shelter, food, clothing, travel, and other basic needs. This is when we need to keep our eyes open for the general signs of trafficked persons.
Fear, anxiety, depression, hyper-vigilance, or intimidation
Signs of physical abuse, bruises, sexual abuse
poor health or hygiene; malnutrition
substance abuse or self harm
inappropriate clothing for the weather or situation (for those being sex trafficked, their clothes are generally consistent with their work)
Accompanied by someone who speaks on their behalf
no access to personal identification
no or few personal possessions or money
not know their address/ be unfamiliar with the town they live in
branding/scarring/tattoos that show ownership
act as if they are instructed by someone else
limited or no contact with family or friends
In addition to the general indications, indications of sex trafficking are:
They may indicate that they have a pimp
They may say they have to meet a daily quota from sex work
They have to hand over most or all of the money made
have a cell phone, but don’t know their number
Engage in sexual activities for food, shelter, drugs or other necessities
Have few items of clothing
Signs of STD’s
Use slang associate with the sex trade (“the game”, “johns”, turning tricks”, etc.)
The common thread that ties to almost every victim is their vulnerability. Traffickers can spot a vulnerable person like you wouldn’t believe. Some things that make teens especially vulnerable are: Harsh backgrounds, broken families, history of abuse, group homes, running away from home, early teens, and low self esteem. A trafficker will identify the void, and ‘fill it’ for them before exploiting them.
What We Can Do
As Christians, our job is to pray, help and spread truth. Maybe there are young teens in your life that are as naive as I was when I was 15. Perhaps if you build a relationship, and speak truth into their life, you could save a potential victim. Teaching our young girls to find their worth in Christ, going to Him for love, and being transparent and up front with godly authorities will play a huge role in protecting the ones we love.
If you believe you have information about a potential trafficking situation:
Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free hotline at 1-888-373-7888: Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates are available 24/7 to take reports of potential human trafficking. All reports are confidential and you may remain anonymous.