A few years ago I was invited to a luncheon where a woman was speaking about her years of being trafficked in America. She was from an affluent home and was trafficked by her boyfriend and his friends. For years, she held on to this secret. Then her family moved and she was free from him.
I was floored. I knew trafficking existed in other parts of the world, but this woman was telling me that this was happening to her in America.
I left there with my brain spinning and set up a time for a police officer from the trafficking unit to come out and speak to our girls at the high school in my neighborhood. They were all teen moms and, if just looking at statistics, all of them were vulnerable to this disaster.
Then life moved on. I no longer volunteer at that school. Life moved on. I no longer know anyone that’s been trafficked. Life moved on. I no longer think about it. It’s too hard to think about it.
Then my friend Debra starts texting me and telling me about what she and our friend Amanda are doing in Houston with trafficking victims. Two emotions overcame me; proud & nervous. Super proud of my friend for doing something. For stepping up to the plate. For looking at this evil and saying “you won’t keep going on in my city”.
But I was also nervous. What if I started to feel like she feels. What if I started to feel like I should do something too?
I honestly didn’t want to think about it.
So I didn’t.
Then my friend Janet moves back to Austin. She’s already been thinking about it for years and she starts to rub off on me. Now I’m thinking about it more and it’s all Debra & Janet’s fault.
Next thing I know, I’m in a car with six other women, including someone from a local ministry that helps women get out of the industry. She’s driving us around showing us brothels around town. Brothels around my town. Literally, there are brothels that I could ride my bike to, if I had a bike, which I don’t, but they are super close to my house. There are brothels in buildings that look just like that – buildings. There are brothels behind doors that claim to give massages and facials. There are brothels in a neighborhood at the house on the corner.
My world was spinning. As she drove us around she shared stories of girl after girl after girl who was tricked into this lifestyle and now couldn’t leave. Her pimp had too much on her. He owned her. She couldn’t go even if she tried. She can’t call the police, because she doesn’t trust them. She can’t call her parents because she never had parents to start with. She can’t just run because where would she go; and he would find her. He would find her and kill her.
I got out of the car that day and looked at my friend with tears rolling down my face and said “I wish I hadn’t agreed to come today. My life would be so much easier had I never heard and seen what I just did.” I wasn’t lying. I truly wished that I hadn’t gotten in the car that morning.
Now I knew so much. I had seen so much. How could I possibly go on with life after this knowledge had been given to me?
I’m broken. My mind literally thinks of these girls multiple times a day. When I’m home and I drive by a place my thoughts go haywire in my head. The thought of someone’s daughter in there against her will be made to do things that no person should ever have to do makes vomit come up into my mouth.
I’m mad. I’m mad that this is the reality of the world that we live in. I’m pissed that some guy thinks it’s okay to treat a human this way. That some man thinks that he has so much power and control over her that she is literally like a pet to him.
I’m also ready to learn and do something. There is no possible way that I can sleep at night with this on my brain. How could I go through life and act as though this isn’t reality? That this isn’t truly happening in our country, in our cities, in our neighborhoods.
Join me as we learn more about how we can be a part of the solution, together.
I’ve been so curious about this ever since you mentioned it in a previous post. I’d love (ok, you get what I mean) to learn more about this in Austin as you learn more. My hubs is a student pastor at a local Austin church and I would love to hear more about how to get connected with more information.
Melissa – I will for sure keep you all posted on my blog! Thanks for your interest. Where’s your hubs a pastor?
I have recently been thinking a lot about this too. Particularly with children as I saw more arrests in our area. Our church used to sponsor SCTNow or Stop Child Trafficking Now through a 5K. I think that SCTNow has ended the 5K portion of their fundraisers. It was amazing the awareness that it brought to our area. One of our members was able to bring awareness by running 80 miles. Many people were surprised that a local church would take on the issue. Here is a link to one of the articles
Thank you for helping bring this frightening and sickening problem to more light. After living in Atlanta when it was considered the number one city for sex trafficking, I have been shaken by the reality that is not just a problem in foreign countries. This information can’t spread fast enough in our nation as awareness is the first step to change. Thank you thank you. Please keep posting on this subject, especially as ways to make a difference in this city come to light!
It’s so easy and tempting to look the other way. I’m glad for the reminder in your words and yet sad that I have to read these words. I know looking the other way is the cop out, but we’re called to love and to help even when it’s hard. Thanks for keeping our heads turned towards the issue.
Austin Ridge Southwest campus 🙂 You guys might know Mark Adams who is the campus pastor.. love them.
Thank you for writing on a topic that many turn a blind eye to. This issue needs more attention. Your compassion for the human race pours out in your blogs, and it’s inspiring.