"No one even noticed."
Such was the sentiment of one survivor in the film "Blind Eyes Opened: The Truth about Sex Trafficking in America." This documentary took over six years to produce and was screened on January 23 in over 800 theaters through Fathom Events.
I'm glad I spent the time and money to attend.
This documentary fairly covered many issues and was survivor-focused, in my opinion. The six featured survivors spoke clearly that while they are healed and restored through their relationship with Jesus Christ, their experiences are a "life-sentence" that they must live with. The boundaries between victim, survivor, and thriver are blurred (my paraphrase) and continual after-care is necessary. (This is the whole philosophy of Peoria Home's long-term program.)
The film quickly covered the many aspects of sex trafficking in the United States: legal issues, prevention, and restoration of victims. As a Christian documentary it also spoke frankly to churches, encouraging viewers to take action in their churches and communities. It highlighted the transforming love of Jesus in the recovery of the featured survivors as well as a former sex-buyer.
One thing stood out to me though, and it's not unique to this documentary so I'm not picking on the film. This is merely an observation. And I've certainly used what I'm about to critique, so hopefully it can be received with grace.
It's the phrase, "She's somebody's _______." In the blank usually it's "daughter," "sister," "wife," "mother," "friend," etc. This phrase was used many times during the film with interviewees such as lawyers, advocates and social workers, lawmakers, and police officers.
But actually, she's somebody. Just somebody. How a person relates to others does not make them more worthy to save. A person is worth saving because she's somebody.
"No one even noticed." A woman trafficked during her childhood on the weekends had to maintain a normal exterior during the week at school. No one even noticed.
Let's notice her and those like her. Let's learn the signs of trafficking and take action when we see them, reporting to police or social services. Let's make our churches and communities welcoming instead of judgmental. Let's demand our representatives prosecute the criminals (the pimps and buyers) and care for the victim so they can become a survivor/thriver.
But let's do those things because she's somebody.
You may find out more about "Blind Eyes Opened" here: https://blindeyesopened.com/