Slavery by any other name is still slavery

child_abuse

April 2015: Featured Post

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child_abuse

stop child abuse

Several years ago I found out that at the age of two I was molested by a neighborhood boy. When I found out; something inside of me clicked, as if a missing puzzle piece had been put in its place. I finally began to see what the impetus was for my guardedness; particularly towards males. Although I have no recollection of the incident, there were “body memories” created that told my developing self that I had been violated somehow and I needed to protect myself. I remember thinking as a little girl that all men wanted was your body. These were messages formulated by my mind to guard against any future violation.

While the violation of my toddler self, produced a hypervigilance in me, in others who are repeatedly abused at the hands of neighbors, family members, baby sitters etc., the violation can become a gateway to other forms of exploitation such as child pornography, prostitution and rape slavery (also known as sex-trafficking). Survivors of such exploitation state that the child hood sexual abuse became a grooming process, whereby the abuse became their “norm” and made them vulnerable to other predators that often promised them love, money and security from their past abusers. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center reports that,

Individuals who have experienced violence and trauma in the past are more vulnerable to future exploitation, as the psychological effect of trauma is often long-lasting and challenging to overcome. Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, war and conflict or social discrimination may be targeted by traffickers, who recognize the vulnerabilities left by these prior abuses. Violence and abuse may be normalized or beliefs of shame or unworthiness lead to future susceptibility to human trafficking. [1]

nthrc

As a counselor and clergy woman, I am concerned that this 9.5 billion dollar industry[2] is claiming the lives of women, men, boys and girls right from under our nose, as we remain asleep to this reality. We are unaware of the vulnerabilities we allow to form because we are no longer involved in the lives of our neighbors or those we worship with. We ride by homeless teens and women, not thinking about how they could become victim to the perversion of sex slave traffickers and “johns”, oftentimes people who look unsuspecting.

At a recent conference at Spelman College, one of the panelists who works to rescue young girls who have been caught up in this slavery, stated that it is often hard to identify who the perpetrator is because they aren’t dressed up like the “pimps” of the 70s with flashy suits and big brimmed hats. Nor is it easy to catch the “johns” because they don’t come from a particular socio-economic, racial, religious or political background. Therefore, all concerned citizens must be vigilant. We must be aware of the signs of those who have been trapped by “the game” or who are being groomed for such entrapment. Such signs include: behavior issues at school or work, truancy, history of running away, domestic violence, abuse/neglect, inappropriate dress, paranoia, depressed/withdrawn, controlling/demanding relationship etc. [3] This by no means is an exhaustive list of potential signs but it is a start to help us become more sensitive to those who are around us, that may be vulnerable.

Youth Spark: http://www.youth-spark.org/learn/our-programs/

National Human Trafficking Resource Center: http://www.traffickingresourcecenter.org/mission

Polaris: http://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/sex-trafficking-in-the-us


[1] http://www.traffickingresourcecenter.org/what-human-trafficking/human-trafficking/victims

[2] http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=22009#.VO0vgbd0xdg

[3]http://www.youth-spark.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/FAQ_RedFlags.pdf

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