Happy Thursday friends! This post is deviating a bit from the norm of my cleaning and organizing posts but this is a topic that is so near and dear to my heart that I felt it appropriate to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming. If you don’t know, today is World Day Against Human Trafficking. Human Trafficking Awareness month is January but, this day is another chance for us to share about this horrific injustice impacting our world.
Each year millions of kids go missing around the world. Roughly 800,000 in the US. Where do they go? What has happened to them? Many are trafficked either for hard labor or sexual exploitation. They range in age as young as 2 (sometimes even younger) well into adulthood.
Human Trafficking is, in my opinion, the worst injustice occurring in our world today. It does not discriminate and impacts everyone. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry and it needs to be stopped.
Like most people, I was completely naive that such a thing even existed. I shudder to think how many times I could have easily been in a compromising situation because I was unaware this could occur. I was a careless college student walking home alone from bars (I mean aside from trafficking I could have been straight up attacked so that was not wise) to traveling abroad with a friend and chatting up any stranger we met with no clue the dangers that it could have led to. These situations are the reason I can’t stop sharing about this topic. So many people have no idea it exists, let alone the fact that it often happens right under our noses. My hope is that the more people who know about it, the more change can be brought about and the more lives that can be saved and abductions can be prevented.
I remember the day I first learned of human trafficking vividly. I was standing in the restaurant I was working in, chatting with my mom who came in for lunch and my manager. Natalie Holloway had recently gone missing in Aruba and my mom said people were suspecting she may have been trafficked.
“WAIT, WHAT DID YOU SAY?”
“What do you mean trafficked?” I asked my mom. She proceeded to explain to me how she had recently learned that people were abducted and sold into sex slavery.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa….what? They can do that??” I was in disbelief. I simply could not fathom a life where you were raped and tortured multiple times a day for years on end, and yet, that is a very real reality for millions.
From that day on I was obsessed with learning all I could about this. I watched a Lifetime movie one Sunday afternoon with Mira Sorvino about girls being trafficked. They were tricked into thinking they were coming to America for a new life or meeting a great new guy on a date, and they were abducted and sold. To this day the contents of that movie were so real, raw, and disturbing, I almost can’t believe it was on Lifetime.
My life was never the same after that. I continued to research this over the years and the things I have heard, the testimonies I have read, the facts I have learned all truly keep me up some nights. Now that I have a child I get physically sick at the thought of it. It must stop.
I could go on for days about all I have learned over the years, but truthfully, as hard as it is, it’s a topic everyone needs to explore for themselves. I believe people need to see a lot for themselves to truly be impacted and to speak out about it.
I write this post today to implore everyone to learn more about this and to spread the word.
“Staying silent doesn’t keep it from happening. It keeps it going.”
So how can you help or learn more? Start by checking out organizations working to stop human trafficking. There are a ton of great ones out there. Here is a list of some great ones to get you started.
- O.U.R Rescue – stands for Operation Underground Railroad. Tim Ballard who started this organization is a former CIA agent who left to do this work knowing he could do more to help the cause within his own organization. He has an amazing documentary called Operation Toussaint (you can find it on Amazon Prime here) that follows along as they bust a trafficking ring in Haiti. I can’t say enough good things about this organization.
- Pure Hope Foundation – My friend Jessica loves this one! It’s a Texas based organization that helps victims of human trafficking.
- The Demand Project
- Polaris Project
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Aside from continuing to educate ourselves on this topic and support organizations working to stop human trafficking, one of the ways we can help is by knowing the signs to look for. You never know when one of these tips could save a life. My friend Emily sent me the following graphic. You can check out more by visiting this link here.
FACTS VS. MYTHS
I think a lot of the misunderstanding about how terrible human trafficking is and how much support it needs come from a set of myths people believe or have heard surrounding it.
To learn more about what human trafficking it and what it isn’t head here.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
Simply put, continue to learn about it and spread the word to everyone you know. Again, a lot of people just don’t know this is a thing or they don’t understand how deep it runs.
Research, follow organizations like the ones listed above and learn all you can. Then spread the word. Also, consider donating to organizations that are working in the fight to stop human trafficking and/or ones that support survivors.
Lastly, know the warning signs. If you ever think you see something suspicious that could be a trafficking victim, report it to the National Human Trafficking Hotline
1-888-373-7888 or text 233733
Never be afraid to report something even if it’s just a hunch. You never know who’s life you could be saving.
Okay friends, that does it for today. If you made it this far I thank you so much for taking the time to learn more about this. Please do all you can to spread the word about this and speak out against it. These victims have no voice. I know I would desperately want people fighting for me if I or someone I knew was being trafficked. Keep learning and spreading awareness. Let’s abolish this modern day slavery.