Today's post is the second by Kimberly Rae on the subject of the trafficking of persons--today's slavery. I know you'll find this information challenging, and this post will make you more aware and ready to prevent it. Thank you, Kimberly, for sharing your burden for exploited people and for all you do to help women and children! God bless you! (If you missed the first post--on how to recognize trafficking--please scroll down. It appears after this one.) Today's post begins here:
It’s great helping rescue trafficking victims, but how much better if we can prevent trafficking before it happens! Prevention is possible, because traffickers and other exploiters exhibit certain characteristics that are recognizable. They groom their victims, and grooming techniques are something we can learn to recognize.
One major factor in preventing human trafficking and other forms of exploitation like abusive relationships and even prostitution is preventing childhood sexual abuse. There is a huge overlap between all of the above and people who were abused sexually as children. Even in chosen prostitution, a large majority of women surveyed said they were abused as children. Many said that was a factor in their choice to prostitute themselves. As one victim said, “At least I get paid for it, now.”
Why is this such a problem? To help, first we need to understand the mindset of a victim. For a victim of childhood sexual abuse, the line between good, healthy relationships and abusive relationships is blurred, because for him, the concept of love is associated also with abuse. If he does not learn to overcome, he's forever vulnerable to future relationships that combine love and abuse. Traffickers know this, and they target the vulnerable. We need to learn to recognize the vulnerable and help them overcome so they do not remain targets.
How do we do this? First, we need to teach our children to find their worth in Jesus Christ, so they aren’t looking for it in dangerous places. The Internet is a major workplace for traffickers. They used to have to go into inner cities and look for runaway children, but now they can just spend their days on Facebook, Snapchat, and a hundred other sites where kids and teens are posting selfies and asking for approval and validation.
We often think of trafficking being someone snatched at the mall and taken away, but abductions only account for 11% of sex trafficking cases. A large percentage offers something the victim wants, like that exciting modeling job, or a place to stay if they run away, etc. However, the majority, 51%, is the trafficker pretending romantic interest. He offers love. There is a psychological aspect to grooming that is worth studying.
Traffickers may use these needs in a recruitment process similar to this:
- Identify the need of the child
- Fulfill the need
- Remove any other sources of need fulfillment
- Exploit the child’s dependence for need fulfillment by forcing them into prostitution.
In regard to preventing childhood sexual abuse, and thus preventing trafficking and other future exploitation, grooming techniques an exploiter will use are:
- Befriending the child and their family to slowly gain trust.
- Giving gifts, money, trips, and/or performing special favors for the child.
- Offering to babysit, including sleepovers and overnight trips.
- Encouraging harmless secrets, laying the foundation for future sexual secrets.
- Taking pictures/video of the child.
- Saying the relationship with the boy or girl is special.
- Communicating with the child excessively; texting, emailing or calling.
- Inappropriate language and/or telling dirty jokes.
- Playing body contact games with children; tickling, backrubs or wrestling.
- Making alcohol/drugs available to the youth.
- Introducing pornography to initiate sexual interest or normalize the behavior.
- Desensitizing the child through nonsexual touching, “accidental” touching of privates and/or walking in on bathroom or dressing time.
I hate even thinking of that list. I hate to think that there are predators among us, and I'd rather walk away and tell myself it’s not real. But ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. Statistics say that one in every four women and one in every six men have sexual abuse in their past. There are wounded, vulnerable people all around us. There are vulnerable children in our churches and schools and on our playgrounds. We can make a difference with rescue and prevention if we learn to recognize the signs and then keep our eyes open for them in our world. We could be the one to stop trafficking before it starts, or rescue a victim before he reaches his five-to-seven-year life expectancy as a trafficked victim.
The Bible tells us to defend the rights of the poor and needy (Proverbs 31:9). We as believers have so much more to offer than just rescue; we have eternal life without exploitation, a perfect relationship with a Father who will never do them wrong, a family of believers where they can be accepted and belong, forgiveness, and peace. God loves every victim and potential victim. He loves justice. Jesus said He came to set the captives free (Luke 4:18).
When we fight trafficking, we are part of that.
For more information on trafficking and how you can fight it, go to www.kimberlyrae.com.
For information on whom to contact if you suspect childhood sexual abuse, and printable coloring pages for prevention with children, go to www.kimberlyrae.com/i-am-safe.