Candid Advice For Abolitionists

I’ve had a bunch of thoughts rolling around in my head lately about aftercare and survivor support.   For some reason these thoughts are starting to gel into a list of “P’s”.  I’m not sure why that is because, of all people, I hate formulas.  Maybe this is to help people remember them better. I contemplated doing a post on each one of these things, because there is so much to say.  It’s possible I will also do that someday, but I feel an urgency to get these out here today, so I will do my best to abbreviate.

1. Put Down the Pride – You don’t have the answer.  Can I just go ahead and put that out there?  I don’t care what degree you have, how many conferences you have attended, how many times you’ve sat theorizing over coffee.  Your theories about how to “help” survivors of trafficking are inadequate.   Your textbook did not prepare you for this.  Neither did your internship, your classes on trauma counseling, or your past experience.

2. Prayer – This is the answer.  I would rather have one faithful friend that would pray for me constantly than someone with ten degrees use their theories on me.  She needs an encounter with Christ, not your short-lived heroism.  You see, it is only when you see your own inadequacy, and are reduced to crying out to God to intervene in a survivor’s life that rescue begins to happen.  That’s right, I said rescue.  Restoration is not a separate item on the list of how to help trafficking survivors.  Restoration completes the rescue.  If you are able to physically rescue someone but can’t make sure that someone walks them through restoration, then you have wasted your time.  When you learn that God is the only answer – that He alone knows her heart and can supernaturally reach in and heal the nightmare, bit by bit – then you are on the right track.  Learn to ask Him over and over to do what you cannot do.  That’s the beginning and the end to her healing.

3.  Patience – I heard a statistic recently that it takes a survivor of sex trafficking an average of 6 to 8 years to heal.  I can attest to this truth.  I am one who also wholeheartedly believes that God can do anything in any timing He wants.  I am praying and looking for a day when survivors will be healed instantly by His power, and indeed this is probably happening in some cases.  However, the truth is, for many, many people, it is a very long, painful process.  Are you willing to walk next to someone for that long?  Or will you grow tired of the process?  Will the hero in you die when things get hard?  The key again, is casting everything on Christ.  If you can daily acknowledge your powerlessness to change anything for her, and continue to trust His ability to change everything for her, then you stand a chance of being one less loss in her life.

4.  Practicality – I heard another survivor talk recently about how important practical help during the healing process is.  For someone walking through the thick of healing, everything is hard.  Going to the doctor triggers an overwhelming, embarrassing trauma response.  Going grocery shopping – or having to do anything alone in a large public place – brings feelings of extreme vulnerability and sometimes overwhelming fear.  If you understand a little about complex trauma, then you know that everywhere she turns, there is a trigger.  She may not even know or understand what it was, but she can be anywhere and suddenly panic.  Thinking straight for long enough to even make the grocery list is a challenge.  This is the reason that healing happens so well in the context of community.  She needs people around her that she can trust to go to the doctor or the store with her, mow her lawn, bring her a meal.  Practical help is huge.

5.  (Finally not a P) – Be sensitive and Don’t Make Assumptions – Evil people have been doing horrific things to children and young women forever. 

There are survivors among you.

I belong to a local anti-trafficking organization.  For safety reasons, I cannot openly divulge the fact that I am a survivor.  And I am not the only one in the group I belong to. You can’t be responsible for what you do not know.  But you can “treat” survivors with kindness and respect even when you don’t think there are any listening, because there probably are.

It pains me when I am around a group of activists and a comment is made that reflects a stereotypical attitude towards “these girls.”  Please hear this – “these girls” are individuals.  They all have unique personalities, experiences, ambitions and dreams.  Maybe I am out of line and this is my own problem, but it really bothers me to hear someone use the phrase “these girls,” and then go on to make a generalized statement that would somehow apply to all, when it doesn’t.  It is somewhat dehumanizing, which by the way, survivors have had enough of.   I am simply suggesting that you always watch what comes out of your mouth and the heart and attitude behind your words, being mindful that there is always a chance that the very person you are talking to is a survivor.  This approach can only serve to increase your integrity in this fight.

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About stonescry

A survivor of sex trafficking, being healed by the grace of God.
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3 Responses to Candid Advice For Abolitionists

  1. Caitlin says:

    thank you so much for spilling your heart time and time again. the world NEEDS this info so badly. As a previous commentor mentioned, this is absolutely invaluable. your beautiful words are helping to shape me into the person I want and need to be. bless you!

  2. tg says:

    thank you

  3. Dirtpastor says:

    Being male and not having any experience being trafficked, I have found God’s leading into the arena very interesting. He had been training me in just what you have posted. In and of myself, I can do nothing. Through Him, I can make a difference. I do not have any answers. I do have the ability to be used by God to be a physical manifestation of His love by simply “being” there. My only “understanding” of this issue is the abuse my wife suffered growing up. While not trafficked, there was sexual abuse. What this means is that I have experienced the repercussions of a trigger. You have stated in other blogs that this is not for the faint of heart or somebody looking to “serve” for the short haul. That is a major truth that I concur is key. If you cannot walk with a person for the long haul, or marathon, then don’t take the first step.
    Some things I believe the Father wants me to share with you and those reading your blog, from the “outside” of trafficking, that I hope those who read your blog can hear are: 1) Grace, and grace only speaks to a wounded heart. For me, this means that the person I am walking with must never be forced, coerced or manipulated into agreeing with me that some behavior or thought is wrong and they must quit doing it. As you have shared, triggers come from anywhere and are uncontrollable. They just are. The responses from one who has experienced what they have will not always be “Christian.” The lameness of that sentence and lack of church support speaks for itself. 2) Acceptance is a must. I must accept the person, WHERE THEY ARE, just as the Father does. I cannot expect them to be “normal” (that’s a really weak word when truly looked at in truth) because “normal” is my definition of what it is or should be. They have emotions and memories that affect their world. You have shared many. It is not my job, nor does it help them healing, for me to try to change them. 3) Tenacity in the journey will be tested. Our society does not believe in waiting patiently for things. As you spoke, my prayer is for instant healing. The reality is, that is rarely the case. The journey will be long with many things, including the Enemy, working diligently to distract or derail it.
    Awareness of trafficking is a good thing. It’s just not good enough to deal with the whole picture. There must be an awareness of what you have spoken, that restoration is part of the rescue. Simply pulling one out of the trafficking does not finish the rescue. The journey to healing for most will not come from no longer being in the circumstance nor will it be an overnight occurrence. It will be a process that will require PRAYER and lots of it, not only for the person you walk with, but for yourself to stay the course. To truly understand a person that has come out of trafficking it must be understood that while physically free, they are still mentally enslaved.
    Thank you for sharing your heart and being brutally honest. The only way the darkness is removed if for the Light to shine on it. That Light needs to shine on the hearts of those who want to fight this fight so that the darkness in their own lives does not knock them out of the journey. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life!

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