#TeamMitchellBoys is raising awareness this month and also fund for Peoria Home. Peoria Home is just one place where we can put our deepening understanding to practice.
It is a difficult thing to find out that a loved one is in the life. If it is your child, it is even tougher. If your loved one is a minor there is more that you can do legally. Call your local law enforcement and stay attentive to what they are doing to investigate. If you don’t know where the child is, contact The Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST. They have a nationwide network that will be as helpful in finding your child. If they are missing don’t stop searching for them until they are found. Hold onto hope with everything that you have.
If your loved one is over the age of 18, they are considered adults and able to make their own choices. Because of the way sex trafficking works with fraud and coercion, it will appear, even to them that this life is their choice. They may make foolish choices, and it difficult to see any loved one act foolishly, but we can’t force them into a different life. It has to be their choice to leave the life. There is little that can be done that will feel helpful in this situation. The despair and heartache are something that I would never want to experience.
Being there for your loved one to the extent that they allow you is the best thing you can do. If they want to get out of the life, they need to know that they will be accepted and loved no matter what. It shouldn’t matter what they’ve done or what’s been done to them, if they want to come home they are welcomed with open arms. This is much harder said than done, but it is important.
In saying this there is a realization that they may have broken the trust of the loved one. They might have stolen, lied to or cheated members of the family numerous times. There are ways to be there even if the trust is gone. For the family’s safety and sanity there will need to be healthy boundaries put in place. Creating rules and boundaries are a sign of love and willingness to help, even if feels rigid. If they are kept it will help create a safe place where expectations are met. Each family will need to create their own boundaries but being firm on your boundaries is healthy and good.
As you keep your boundaries you will need to know what services are available for your loved one. You will want to find this out and keep a list ready and available to call on when the time is needed. Your list might contain survivor groups, your local program for women in the life, medical clinics and drug treatment shelters. In fact, every interaction with your loved one you can mention that you have resources available and how far you are willing to go to help them. If a program costs money, offer to pay. If there are any other concerns work to relieve them. You can go to the extent you’ve spoken about in your boundaries, that is why it is important to clearly define them. But your loved one can’t be forced, they need to get there themselves if recovery is going to take hold.
You might also want to seek out a support group for families of survivors. You can start by contacting local agencies that work with prostituted women. If they don’t have anything keep looking. If you can’t find one, you may want to start one or find someone who has been through this to talk to. This will help keep you sane. Your friends might not understand what you are going through and you need to talk to someone who understands.
If you are a friend, support the family. Be there for them without growing weary of waiting with them. If this lasts a long time it may be difficult, but a long-standing friend is a great encouragement. They are going through a very hard time and they need people to stand by them. You don’t have to understand what they are going through to be a good friend. In fact presence and a listening ear is far more important than “helping” them. Stand by.
Last but certainly not least, pray. When things are completely outside our control, we need an outlet. You can pray in a journal or even a blog, you can use words or tears. There is no right way to pray. An appeal to God is an admittance that we don’t have all the answers. I have known men and women who have prayed for years and years, sometimes decades to see movement in their children. I have seen countless prayers answered and not one of them was answered in what I would call a logical way. If a loved one is in the life a miracle is needed, and we get to ask a miraculous God to do what he does.