One of my favorite authors grew up on a farm and around horses. He has seen, worked with and written about his fair share of horses. His love for these animals comes out in his writing. He was asked once if he knows how to train horses. I expected him to give a lecture on how to train since I assume he knows a lot about this topic. His response is perhaps one reason he is my favorite author; he replied, “Which horse did you have in mind?”
He knows a lot about horses in general, but each horse is different. How much more is each human different? We all like to think of ourselves as individuals and have aversions when we are treated as a number or just one of the herd. This is for a good reason. Even if we have similar personality types, we all got there in our own way. We all have different pasts, different dreams and different desires. We all have different minds, we all have different histories. We grew up in different locations and with different family dynamics. All this and so much more plays into who we are now. This is why we are all different and should be treated as such.
I have seen and have participated in narrowing down human trafficking and prostitution into small categories. Saying things like, This is who is at-risk for sex trafficking and leaving it to a small group of people. Human trafficking victims and women who engage in prostitution have some things in common, but they are all different. There are some patterns that we can see but we’d never want to detract from what makes the individual, an individual.
The truth is, everyone is different and we get to treat them as such. It is untrue that all prostitutes want to be in the life. It is untrue that all prostitutes are nymphomaniacs. It is untrue that prostitution is simply the world’s oldest profession. It is untrue that all women prostitute themselves just for drugs. We get to widen our understanding of the individuals as we are made aware and want to prevent sex trafficking and prostitution in our community. We get to see these women and girls as daughters and sisters. We get to see the men and boys as sons and brothers. They are not objects, they are people.
There is so much that goes into human trafficking that we should try to get a better and broader understanding on the victims. Not all victims were sexual assaulted in their youth. Not all come from poor families or bad neighborhoods. Not all are uneducated. Persons that get lured into human trafficking are not stupid or suckers. Not all the women who are in prostitution have been trafficked; there are some women who choose this as a profession, many of them feel empowered by doing so. Not all who are sold for sex are female. Not all are adults. Not all are of one race or another. The topic-at-hand is as diverse as our community.
I say all this to say, it is complicated. Everyone has a story. If we admit this, it will allow us to set aside some preconceived notions and start to gain some insight. If we really want to help prevent sex trafficking in our communities, one thing we can do is start to understand the complexities that go into this life. Understanding will help us guard against judgement. Or if you are like me, you can’t help but judge others. Understanding has allowed love to overrule my misplaced judgements and see the truth hiding behind. Judgements from condemnation can change into acts of love and kindness. These are good things to have in our community.
In the upcoming days my post will look at understanding: understanding language, understanding how childhood trauma plays into the life, understanding (or rather start to understand) the complex role of poverty in sex trafficking and prostitution. I will also look at understanding trauma and Stockholm Syndrome why women don’t just leave their abusers. I will look at addiction, pimping and the grooming process. Understanding these elements of sex trafficking and prostitution will only help us in our quest to prevent this life for anyone else. These will all be bite-sized introductions from a concerned citizen and not from an expert. But I hope that it will fuel our desire to dive in deeper to these and many more complex issues.
If we understand, then we are shining a light on our own ignorance. We are first pushing away the darkness in our own minds. We get to do this if we want to make an impact. This is what has happened to me. The more I have understood, the more I’ve gotten involved. It’s as if the blinders have fallen off and I can see. In seeing, a surprising thing happened. I was filled with hope and not despair. I get to see and be a light that does not get overwhelmed by the darkness. I know that not everyone will experience this, but some of us might if we just give it a try.
When I say understanding, I am not just talking about just the mind. I do want our minds to think differently about sex trafficking and prostitution, but I want our thoughts to impact our lives. If that is to happen then it is going to take some time to steep into our lives. Like a bag of tea in hot water that gives it flavor, so will the time spent looking at this issue. I am a big fan of having information change the way we live as well as our minds, so we are not just brains on a stick. We get to be impacted by what is important. We get to feed our desire for justice in the world and help out instead of allowing others without your talents and life experience to be helpful. Who knows? Your ideas may be a helpful breakthrough for those who need it. Maybe your light will be the one that is seen when someone is in their darkest moment.
I hope that you will be able to take the journey of understanding with me. I hope that this understanding fuels your desire to learn more and live fuller lives. Allowing this information to sink in and become a part of how you act will bless you.
#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.
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