Often times when people, not you, of course, think of helping victims/survivors of sex trafficking people may think of something they have seen in the movies. Maybe seeing a helpless young girl who tied up somewhere and breaking down a door, carrying her out to safety and then a sudden light comes on and everything is suddenly better. Ok, Ok – you know it doesn’t work like that here in the United States. Hopefully, that none of that would happen, and average citizen at best would be making a call to our friends in law enforcement. Most often you would not witness a victim of human trafficking being tied up.
Rich Nathan, the Senior Pastor of the Columbus Vineyard, often says that the Christian Life is right foot, left foot. This is very true of restoration from exploitation or trafficking – it is not immediate or magical, at least in my experience. For me, its been a long hard road.
The thing is that many people want to think that you give someone a few good meals, some clean clothes and a few nights sleep and everything will be ok. I mean at least he/she/they are not being trafficked any longer right?
The road to restoration is long and complicated and is different for everyone. However, I hold to the right foot, left foot thinking. Here are few things that everyone needs.
- A sense of safety. People need to know that they have a safe place to sleep at night, where they can lay their head and no one is going to hurt or exploit them. They need to know that no one is going to take or sell the few things that they have and that they can bathe and eat each day without being punished for it. In order for your mind to start to heal your body needs to be able to have a safe place to breathe and rest.
- An ability to remember and share. When you have experienced severe trauma and crime it is normal to need to be able to process your experiences and trauma. Most of us have experienced severe psychological coercion and in the beginning, it is hard to know what was truly a choice and what we were manipulated into. When we begin to hear on another in a safe place like a group or similar setting we begin to see that we were not alone in what we went through. Furthermore, it starts to help to see what the truth really is because we have been told lies for so long.
- A community to belong to. When we were being trafficked or exploited many of us were isolated and often we thought we would die here alone. When we begin to see that we belong, that we have value, and that we are loved it changes everything. Even if the reality is that we don’t have family we now have a belonging, worth and love in a greater, stronger community that knows us is a deep way and has chosen us. This type of community and love can never be replaced.