There’s power in words. Sometimes we say more when we don’t say anything. Then other times we feel better just getting everything off of our chest. It got me to thinking about how many people there are in the world who are silenced every single moment of every day. They are the forgotten. When I think of those who are dealing with the world of human trafficking, my heart sinks. Many of these young girls and boys are not allowed to make it to adulthood. The ones who do have lived a very hard life. Many of them are forced to exist in conditions that are unfathomable to most of us who can’t even begin to imagine the violence and transgressions they are forced to deal with daily. That doesn’t even begin to touch the surface with the families that these folks were stolen from. The levels of PTSD and other lingering effects can be devastating. Most of us are fortunate. We are able to provide for ourselves and are aware that things like this happen but are not directly affected by it. But when it does happen, your world gets turned upside down.
There’s also those who are the victims of physical abuse. I used to gloss over the history in my history books when I didn’t like what I saw in the pictures but the fact remains that people can be very abusive towards each other. Their actions can cause long lasting effects. This pandemic has only created a much higher level of angst and frustration. I remember one of the conversations that I had with a friend recently was how this pandemic wasn’t helping those who were in the abusive relationships and had no way to escape because of all the lock-downs. Those are the voices that I hear the loudest. Why? Because their silence is truly deafening.
Many of us encounter victims of abuse and have no clue what their journey has produced to this point. We take for granted being able to enjoy freedoms without penalty. But there are many others who don’t have the opportunity to even step outside because they are imprisoned for someone else to control. I’ve watched stories like Elizabeth Smart and many other cases where the person was taken and not allowed to have their life restored. Sometimes, the victims pay the ultimate price. There are also prices that society makes them pay even when they were being controlled by others. For instance, did you know that some of the captors will make a person steal and do their bidding? If that happens, do you think society gives them a free pass? No. They now have a record. Society doesn’t always want to work with people who have acquired a prison record, because they only see what’s on paper. Folks, people are more than just what’s on paper. They are living, breathing, humans who are trying to make it each day. Some folks are in a situation that they have no clue how to get out of, much less how to change their lives for the better and yet, they are scrutinized for things that others are judging them on.
To quote an article I found online, “Human traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to trap their victims into lives of labor or sexual servitude. In order to maintain control, traffickers subject their victims to physical and psychological abuse in order to foster dependency, isolation and fear. According to statistics cited on Polaris, a national anti-trafficking organization, there are approximately 40.3 victims of human trafficking across the globe; the majority of these are women and 25% are children. Trafficking is not just a crime that occurs in other countries – it is a booming industry right here in the United States. According to eurekAlert.org, the US Department of Justice reports that United States citizens comprised 83% of sex trafficking victims. Since human traffickers attempt to avoid detection by hiding their victims from public view, trafficking statistics likely under represent the number of trafficking victims. Traffickers tend to target vulnerable populations from marginalized communities; that said, anyone can become a victim of trafficking.
Survivors who escape trafficking live with physical and psychological scars. While medical treatment helps restore survivors’ physical health, many continue to grapple with emotional wounds long after their bodies heal. Trafficking survivors present with an array of psychological challenges including: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), anxiety, depression, panic disorder and Stockholm Syndrome. Many trafficking survivors also struggle with substance abuse because their traffickers got them addicted to drugs in order to maintain their compliance and dependence.” This information was taken from https://www.awkolaw.com/no-escape-the-enduring-effects-of-trauma-on-the-emotional-health-of-human-trafficking-survivors/.
So why am I bringing up this topic? No I don’t know of anyone directly who is dealing with this but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I do know that I’ve been to areas that have been reported to have multiple instances of human trafficking. There was a time many years ago, where I could have been one of the victims. I had gone to my grandparents house when they were still alive. My grandfather never wanted me to walk to the park alone. The neighborhood had acquired more gang activity over the years and he always worried. One day, not too long after his death, I walked from their house to the park. It was about a mile there and back. As I watched people frolic in the park, I took my time trying to grapple with my thoughts. There was so many things that weighed heavily on my mind and I just wanted to spend some time near my grandfather. Since his grave was located right beside the park, it made sense to walk over there. I’d climb the tree that no one is supposed to climb because it overlooked his grave. Then I would walk back to the house after I’d had some time to reflect and ponder the things in my life that were confusing me. On the way back to my grandparents house, there was a white van that was acting strangely. That van was combing the streets looking for easy marks. Fortunately, I had enough street smarts to get out of the way but not every person is that fortunate. Lady luck was with me that day. Had they succeeded, my life would have gone very differently. I was in my twenties when this happened but there’s a lot of young folks out there who are in the wrong place at the right time. There are many people who prey upon others to get what they want, when they want it. And if you don’t think that humans are a valuable commodity, think again. The Black Market is real folks. And people are sold every day for their organs, their bodies, and whatever else those who are sinister can contrive. It’s up to all of us to keep an eye out for those who may have gotten in trouble and to try to prevent this trend from continuing.
This topic made me want to research more, so I went to the following website. https://www.state.gov/20-ways-you-can-help-fight-human-trafficking/. They talk about 20 steps that you can do to help prevent this from occurring to others. I’m only going to touch on a few of them but there’s a lot of pertinent information out there that could help save lives. One of the most important things we can all do is to be well informed. You can’t prevent something if you have no idea what to look for. Even if you don’t have children, you can help to keep an eye out for suspicious activity with other human beings. You can also call the National Human Trafficking Hotline if you are in the United States. Their number is 1-888-373-7888. They are a 24 hour hotline that is there to help others who are either direct victims or indirect but the more information that you have access to, the better your chances are of combating this crime.
The most important thing is to remember that this is happening world wide. You never know what a person’s journey is. Please don’t assume that you do. Human trafficking is only one area of abuse that doesn’t always have visible scars. The emotional ones can be even more daunting to contend with. Should any of you find yourself in need of reaching out for help, I hope that you will do it and recognize that there are many others out there who are battling issues such as this. Every day we have is a gift. I hope we can all remember that there people in this world who just want their lives back. They want to be able to step outside without having the fear of looking over their shoulders and want to be able to experience the freedoms that were lost so that others could profit off them.
Believe it or not, there’s a lot of people whose voices are being forced to remain silent. If you even suspect something happening that’s dangerous, please help be a voice for the victims. They may be too afraid to speak up but if no one helps their voice to be heard, then there is a potential for those voices to become silenced. No one wants to feel as if they don’t matter or belong. Everyone needs to feel that they are being heard. Sometimes their silence can be heard extremely loud. All we have to do is be willing to listen and act.