Holidays are hard period. You may love holidays, have wonderful memories and be a person who loves to celebrate but for the person who has experienced or is experiencing exploitation and/or trafficking holidays (i.e. Easter) can be tough and pretty painful.
- First, holidays – even if they are based in faith, the holidays are centered around family. If you have experienced exploitation/trafficking there is a high chance that you may not have family to experience these days with. It can remind you of your own pain, suffering and grief. For those of us who were trafficking by our family members (yes, that does happen in the United States) often times we are reminded of the pain and how we do not have any family a deep wounding and trauma. It is hard to explain this pain – to know that there was no one there to help us as children being sold. We can do things like trying to create new memories or traditions for ourselves, such as coloring eggs, going on a walk or doing something you enjoy around the holiday time. To be honest there is a deep pain that is embedded in never being loved by a family, especially around a holiday. We all desire to be loved and be included in something around a holiday but for someone that has no family because that ‘family’ was the traffickers; pain can be very real and very deep – even if they normally seem quite happy. The realization that there was no one to intervene in your life and even now you have no family can make these holidays very painful. My hope is that as it outlines in the Bible we all would find a place in families – but I continually cry out to God for this and see the brokenness of our world in this.
- Secondly, Easter is about redemption and renewal. It is wonderful right? Jesus came – we now have new and eternal life in Him. Easter is beautiful but to be honest it can be painful for survivors of human trafficking. Why? Well – maybe not everyone but some survivors I have talked to and walked with, I will explain. Yes, Easter is beautiful and I am so thankful for Jesus and we have access to the Father now and forever. For those of you who are familiar Human Trafficking can be extremely brutal crime. For some people, thinking through again what Jesus went through can be deeply painful reminding them of their own beating, torture, mocking and near-death experiences many times over. I believe that many still our on this journey with Christ and many are still being renewed by God. I believe they have made it this far because they are strong and resilient. A few good people in their life can really help them and make a huge difference – to know they are not alone and be there for them this time.
- Third, Easter is centered on hope. In the darkest of times it is hard to hope, dream or move beyond survival. Survivors of human trafficking have had to simply do what they needed to survivor. Now, the challenge is to hope, dream and be grateful. You may think – “What it the big deal?” Here is the thing, people who have lived in a constant state of crisis – worrying about what they need to next to survive (to get through the night, survive the beating, get through the ‘date’, etc) it is hard to move from worrying to hope and gratitude. However, studies have been done to show that gratitude rewires the brain and can actually heal the trauma that has been done. When a holiday is focused on hope it can be challenging when you are used to worrying and you seem to have so much to worry about. You literally have to change the way you think and that is pretty hard.
Finally, as people in our community maybe you could reach out to someone. Don’t assume everyone knows how to celebrate ‘well’ holidays or has good memories and if someone just starts crying don’t think they are too much work to be around maybe they just need to make a few new memories and don’t have anyone else to turn to.