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Beyond Pity: A New Approach to Helping Victims of Sex Trafficking

by | May 31, 2023 | Advocacy, Restoration

How to help victims of sex trafficking is a question I often hear, well intended by those passionate about justice. When confronted by unbearable stories of brutality, people are simultaneously wrecked and compelled to act. It is right that they are mobilized to bring light into the darkness. I understand their question and am encouraged by their desire to intervene. But as one who survived 14 years of rape-for-profit, might I suggest that “how to help victims of sex trafficking” is the wrong question?

Helping Victims of Sex Trafficking

Helping Victims of Sex Trafficking

You see, in the realm of combating sex trafficking, we must first unmask the veiled power differential that this approach creates. What begins as an innocent question fueled with compassion comes to reek of pity and pity compounds shame. Shame, my friends, makes slaves of us all. Those who have endured the most sinister depths of trafficking do not need our pity. In our quest to “help victims of sex trafficking,” we unknowingly tread a slippery path that threatens to disempower those we desire to help.

Right here, right now, it is time to shatter the chains of inadvertent condescension and embrace a new paradigm of empowerment.  Can we consider that perhaps the first and best way to help victims of sex trafficking is to recognize that they are not victims? To be labeled a victim infers an identity. But labels are for products, not people, and none of us wants to be identified by the worst thing that has ever happened to us. If you hear nothing else, please hear this: the experiences of those who have survived sex trafficking do not define them. They are men, women, and children, not victims. Period. Full stop.

Listen First

In your desire to help, will you dare listen and hear the war drums of resilience echo through the battleground of survival? Witness with me the flames of their strength flicker defiantly, illuminating the shadows cast by the oppressors. These individuals have been victimized, truly, but they are not victims.  Battered but not broken, they have waged a battle unlike any other. Their souls, scarred yet unyielding, hold the keys to liberation.

If we wish to help the men, women, and children who have been victimized in sex trafficking, we can no longer swoop down as benevolent saviors, patting them on the head with misplaced sympathy. There is only one Savior, and He died for their redemption; neither you nor I are Him. Instead, let us honor the indomitable will of those who have been victimized, commend their unwavering courage, and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them as warriors in their fight for freedom. Their voices, once suppressed, now echo like thunderclaps, shaking the foundations of our unjust world.

In a garden long ago, God granted humanity free will. We must not now, or ever, underestimate the transformative power of autonomy, the ability of these brave individuals to reclaim agency and rewrite the narrative of their lives. Each step taken on the path to recovery must be guided by their own hand, a testament to the strength and resilience knit into their DNA before they took their first breath. You and I, my friends, are not their shepherds but rather comrades-in-arms. If we wish to help, we will amplify their voices, uplift their stories, and forge a future where they are the architects of their own destinies.

Imagine what might happen if we shed the shackles of condescension and instead embraced a language that speaks of empowerment, liberation, and fierce independence. The battle cry of those that have survived the unthinkable reverberates through the annals of time, a testament to the human spirit’s unyielding defiance in the face of unimaginable horrors. You and I must march not as benefactors but as allies, celebrating their triumphs and mourning their losses.

Advocate and Honor

So, raise your voice with me; I dare you. A war dance of solidarity, honoring their journey from victim to survivor, from darkness to light, is drumming through the night. Can you hear it? Does it pound through your chest? Rather than seeing those who have experienced sex trafficking as victims in desperate need of our help, let our words carry the weight of their strength and resilience, igniting a fire within us all to champion their cause. These fierce and beautiful ones are not victims. They are each fearfully and wonderfully made. Every individual is a unique masterpiece reflecting the image of God, who chose them before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. Only by recognizing and respecting their autonomy can we truly break the chains of captivity and empower them to reclaim their lives.

In this battle against sex trafficking, let us not inadvertently offer a pity-filled hand but instead extend our arms in fierce support, rallying behind their battle cry, for it is in this dance of empowerment that we find the true essence of humanity, where the triumph of the human spirit shines brightest and where freedom becomes not just a distant dream but a genuine reality.

Be Their Hands and Feet

Practically, though, I hear you asking, “What does all this mean?” You’ve read the poetry of my passion thus far, and still, you wonder, okay, but what can I do? To this, I have a call to arms. As warriors armed with knowledge and determination in the fight against human trafficking, we can rise together with those who have been victimized by sex trafficking, blazing a trail of hope and freedom. So, let’s explore the myriad ways in which each of us can make a tangible difference.

  • Volunteer your time and skills with Compass 31. Shoulder to shoulder, we can combat human trafficking, offering our talents, our hearts, and our unwavering commitment to a war that has been waged throughout history. Together, you and I can be the change we wish to see in the world.
  • Recognize that education holds the power to dismantle the chains of exploitation. Educate yourself and your community about the signs of human trafficking. In doing so, you will unmask the invisible threads that bind our fellow humans. Knowledge is the first step toward liberation.
  • Let your voice be a resounding battle cry, calling upon the forces of justice. Report suspected cases of human trafficking to law enforcement or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888. With each report, we strike a blow against the darkness.
  • But our battle extends beyond the battlefield. Donate your financial resources to Compass 31, where together we can empower, educate, and support those who have been victimized by human trafficking. Let your generosity become a beacon of hope, restoring dignity and paving the path toward healing.
  • Be vigilant. The shadows of human trafficking are hiding in plain sight. Perpetrators are not monsters under the bed. They are most often middle-aged, professional men with disposable income. They are respected community leaders, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and, unfortunately, even pastors…many of whom are married with children. In your community, keep watchful eyes and report any suspicious activity to the authorities. Together, you and I become the guardians of the most vulnerable, ensuring no one falls prey to this heinous crime.
  • Attune your senses and watch for the telltale signs: the haunted eyes that yearn for freedom, the physical marks of abuse etched upon their beings. Open your eyes to the subtle tremors of vulnerability walking through your life daily. Observe the signs of control, the sudden withdrawal from social circles, and unexplained possessions. These whispers hold the secrets of their suffering, the cries for salvation. The signs of sex trafficking are etched upon the faces of those ensnared. If you are willing, you can see them. If you are brave enough, you can let them be engraved on your heart.
  • Support survivor-led organizations like Compass 31. The survivors’ voices carry the weight of resilience and will become the catalyst for cultural shifts that create a more just world. In their stories, we find wisdom; in their triumphs, we discover what is possible.
  • Attend or host events that raise awareness about human trafficking. You have the capacity and the responsibility to ignite conversations, enlighten minds, and forge alliances that will dare to stand unyielding against the tides of injustice.
  • Become an advocate championing policies and laws that combat human trafficking. Let your words reverberate in the halls of power, demanding justice for those who have been victimized and protection for the vulnerable.
  • Engage with your elected officials. They hold the keys to enacting lasting change. Urge them, with fervor and conviction, to prioritize the fight against human trafficking. With each plea, we forge stronger alliances, ensuring that our cause remains at the forefront of their agenda.
  • Finally, harness the power of the digital realm. Let your passion resonate across social media platforms, raising awareness about human trafficking and sharing vital resources. In the interconnected web of social consciousness, our collective voice echoes, reaching those in need and inspiring action in the hearts of others.

God prepared good works in advance for each of us to accomplish. The time to act is now. Together, as a united front, we are disrupting the machinery of human trafficking, empowering survivors, and paving the way for a future where freedom reigns. As we join forces with those who have survived sex trafficking, our voices will rise as a symphony, and our collective efforts will become unstoppable.

Helping Victims of Sex Trafficking

With your help, we can bring about a world where hope and possibility are the prevailing forces – powered by the invincible strength of Christ’s love. For those ready to take action against human trafficking, read “Human Trafficking Knows No Boundaries.” It’s not just a dry collection of statistics – It’s an inspiring call to action that will empower you to make a difference. Download to start making an impact, today!

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