Evil is the only word to describe what I have heard. I have seen and heard a lot and I’m not easily shocked anymore. When women tell me their traumatic experiences, I have learned to not gasp in horror and to respond without giving in to the tears. Later though, when the moment has passed, the stories of their horrific abuse come back and haunt me. Then, I wrestle with the evil that is destroying these precious women. There is no other word for it than evil.
Re-telling her story was opening up the door to the reservoir of dark memories. I had heard “Alie’s” story already, but to be identified as a trafficked victim, she had to be interviewed again by an official. It was a long process and I turned to ask Alie how she was doing. “Not okay,” she mumbled. “What’s going on?” I asked her. Alie told me that she was remembering something she had not told me before. “Do you want to tell me?” I asked gently. She began to talk in a quiet hushed voice.
Alie then shared how a customer had taken her to a room full of men. The drug ICE was unknowingly put in her drink. Three days later she woke up in pain, having been gang-raped repeatedly. Alie considered suicide, but remembered her baby back home and chose to survive.
I don’t know what all they did to me,” It disturbed Alie to know she had been abused while so vulnerable and unconscious. How does one respond? I told Alie I was so sorry for what had been done to her, which was pure evil. The official asked for my attention to clarify some details. I handed Alie my I-pad so she could play Candy Crush (her choice) and get some relief from the memories.
Though Alie is physically safe now, sleep has not been a safe place for her. Dark memories haunt her dreams chasing away rest and security. When I next saw Alie, she asked me if she would ever stop feeling sad? Would she ever be normal again? I tried to assure Alie the depression and sadness will not last forever and what she is experiencing is normal for a trauma victim.
Physically, the abusers are far from Alie and in time they will leave her thoughts, but it will be a long journey to healing. Alie will never forget, but we hope and pray, with help of after-care communities, social workers, friends, counselors, and family, Alie will feel restored and move past surviving to thriving.
Women like Alie are too often caught in the lion’s jaw, ripped apart only to be tossed again, into another lion’s den. How is it that traffickers and sexual predators are allowed to continuously devour and destroy women to satisfy their greed and lust? What will it take for people, communities, and governments, to see and to do something? How many more stories will we hear before we are all disturbed enough to demand justice and to implement the changes needed to stop the exploitation?
It may have been said a lot, but it still rings true: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” (Edmund Burke) With God’s help, evil will not triumph on our watch. It is time to move beyond awareness, time to raise our voices and time to take action to end trafficking and exploitation. Tomorrow is too late. The time is NOW.
Ways to get involved in anti-trafficking efforts:
Praying is a great place to start, but don’t stop there. Take a look around you and find out more. What are the signs and vulnerabilities in your community?
Ask your pastor what your church is doing or can do to address men’s brokenness and women’s exploitation? Start something to get your church involved. “Justice Awakening,” by Eddie Byun is a good tool to use for church involvement.
Ask teachers what can be done for early intervention when students are being groomed to exploit or be exploited. Are the schools in your neighborhood addressing the issues of trafficking? What about pornography?
Offer your time to positively influence children and youth. Be a big brother or sister to a kid from a broken home. Offer rides to children and single mothers to attend safe churches or community centers. Provide counseling for hurting families.
Join an outreach team or volunteer at an after-care facility.
Monitor what is being seen on TV and in the movies as well as social media. Free speech should not equal free access for exploitation.
Offer jobs to women who are desperate and struggling to support their families. Walk with them through the process of finding a job.
Share the blessings you have by giving financially to an anti-trafficking organization such as NightLight.
Do something; just don’t do nothing.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org