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Nobody likes to think about the rampant abuse that is happening, not just in third world countries, but right here in the United States. Last week I had the opportunity to talk with Brenda Harkins on an episode of Your Hope-Filled Perspective Podcast called Hope and Healing for Humans Trafficked, Exploited and Abused – Episode 47. It’s such an important topic to bring awareness to that I asked her to share more here about ways to help victims of human trafficking.
Read to the end for a book giveaway!
3 Ways to Help Victims of Human Trafficking
by Brenda Harkins
Abuse is a cruel reality in our world and in our nation. It is rampant. People sitting in our church pews are no less susceptible. To clarify, abuse is the act of injury, harm or damage to someone through manipulation, control, coercion, cruelty or violence.
Human trafficking is a catastrophic form of abuse that is rampant here in our very own nation. Many correlate trafficking with third world, less-advanced countries. To be certain, it is there as well. But in 2016 numbers as high as 400,000 trafficked people were reported right here in the United States. (Numbers vary based on the criteria with which each organization measures and defines trafficking.) Tens of millions were reported worldwide. Texas is #2 in the nation for trafficking only behind California. And DFW is #2 in Texas, only behind Houston.
There are more slaves in our world today than ever before. Shouldn’t we have a responsibility to end this abomination which buys and sells human beings for the sexual use, or whatever other use, their buyer determines? This is an evil, archaic epidemic and we cannot afford to stick our heads in the sand and say we didn’t know it was happening around us.
Ways to help victims of human trafficking
There are 3 keys I want to share with you that can unlock our understanding of how to make a difference in helping victims of human trafficking:
- Understand that many victims are not aware they are victims.
- Understand what some signs of abuse are.
- Understand how you can help.
1. Many victims are not aware they are victims
Traffickers and abusers are experts in deceptively bonding with their victims. Commonly referred to as trauma bonding, this is the attachment created between a victim and their abuser through repeated cycles of violence. What that means is that many abusers are experts at confusing your feelings and causing you to believe all the pain you experience is your fault. They convince you they are the ones that love you and want the best for you. It is a sick game of power and deceit, and I realize that may sound absurd if you have never been in a lifestyle where escape felt completely hopeless. But here is the bottom line. Victims of abuse need our help. Our love. Our support. Not our judgment. My friend Karen Gardner, amazing survivor and overcomer, is writing a book about her story, but her “Crack the Silence” page on Facebook chronicles some of her journey, and one of the quotes from that page speaks to this type of control:
“He distracted you from seeing the red flags, pulling you in with declarations of love and devotion while he pushed your boundaries until you gave in and believed giving in was your idea.”
The antidote to this fear and control is safety and love. Be a safe place. Love without judging. The trust that this builds just might be their first step out of a nightmare.
2. Know some of the signs of abuse
This is far from an exhaustive list, but if you can be aware of just a few things it could make a difference. Let me be clear that these signs are not absolutes indicating abuse. They are, however, enough cause to pay attention and begin asking the Lord for His guidance and wisdom. Some signs could be:
• repeated injuries, bruises, etc…
• constant anxiety about doing something wrong
• extreme behavior such as being overly compensating or being way too demanding
• sudden changes in work or school performance
• control over a person’s communication, such as keeping you from visiting with the person alone
• noticing a person won’t make eye contact with you and another person speaks for them
• pulling away from healthy, trusting relationships and bonding with a relationship that isolates you from the others
The best thing you can do is pay attention to those around you and ask the Lord to alert your spirit if there is a problem…then trust what you hear.
3. Understand how you can help victims of human trafficking
One vigilant flight attendant was instrumental in a teenage girl’s rescue from her trafficker by putting a note in the bathroom for her after noticing the girl’s disorderly hair and clothing contrasted with the man she was with and his nice suit. His irritation when she tried to strike up a conversation with them both furthered her concern. The girl saw the note and wrote on the back of it, “I need help.” The flight attendant alerted the pilot who had police waiting on the ground to arrest her trafficker. This was an extreme situation, but I share it to show how paying attention and being willing to get involved can literally save a life.
Some of us are more willing to get involved directly when we know the person. Befriending, being safe and loving are the best things you can do. When trust is established, you are likely the one they will open up to. However, if you don’t have a relationship with the person or are more comfortable helping indirectly, we can all help by keeping phone numbers near where people can get help. *(See bottom of article for a few.) Handing someone a phone number, or perhaps calling it yourself, is one of the best ways to help – by getting people involved who are trained to help.
Learning how close to home human trafficking lurks was an eye-opener for me. James 4:17 took on a whole new meaning. It says, “So if you know of an opportunity to do the right thing today, yet you refrain from doing it, you’re guilty of sin.” (TPT) This caused me to open my eyes to the plight of those around me like I never had before. All it takes is opening your eyes. And you could be the one who sets their freedom journey in motion. All of us can 1) pay attention, 2) pray to hear what the Lord is saying, and 3) follow His lead. Will you join me?
*Resources that help victims of human trafficking
- If you are in a trafficking situation, the National Trafficking Hotline number is 888-373-7888.
- If you are in a situation of domestic violence or rape in Tarrant County, contact the Women’s Center hotline that is answered 24/7 at 817-927-2737.
- General counseling is also offered at the Women’s Center. For more info on that you can call 817-927-4000.
- If you desire ministry for heart wounds you want the Lord to heal you are welcome to message me (Brenda) at https://transformteaminternational.org/contact/. That form will send me an email. Just please put HELP in the subject line so it won’t slip by me.
- If our ministry is able to help you, we will. If not, we have plenty of excellent resources where we can refer you.
- Crossing Over: Living Your Purpose on Purpose by Brenda Harkins
- Courageously You e-book by Brenda Harkins is available free here: Courageously You
About Brenda Harkins:
Brenda Harkins is a believer in seemingly impossible possibilities. As a Mediator, Coach, Minister, Author and Speaker, Brenda works to clear the way for people to walk in the fulness God has prepared for them. She believes in the dreams God has put in each heart and takes joy in helping people fulfill those dreams by helping dismantle roadblocks and build super highways to their Destiny.
In conjunction with this post and the podcast interview, Hope and Healing for Humans Trafficked, Exploited and Abused – Episode 47, Brenda Harkins is giving away a free copy of her book, Crossing Over: Living Your Purpose on Purpose.
Leave a comment below sharing with us one thing you’ve learned about helping victims of human trafficking and you will be entered into the contest.
You could also share this blog post on Facebook or Twitter then comment here to tell us where you shared it and you’ll also be entered into the drawing.
The winner will be selected at random and announced next Monday, March 16, 2019. Continental United States only.