Last of the “C” Word

(Part 1)  (Part 2)  Part 3

When involved in prostitution there are just certain places you assume you’re not welcome... 1) the police station – you’re breaking a law 2) a fancy hotel – they act like you leave a disease on every elevator button you push and 3) a church – after all you’re the ultimate sinner who might as well wear a red letter A on her chest.  These are of course, just assumptions but please Church, let me help you not make this assumption a reality.  Girls and women hit by the injustice of trafficking have been through enough, they don’t need to be judged and pushed by you as well, they need to be loved.

When, as a church, you encounter a trafficking victim/survivor…

Please Do:

  • Do convey how welcome they are in your church
  • Do, as quickly as possible get them plugged into an appropriate part of your community
  • Do connect them with professional resources (help them find legal support, professional counseling, job training, etc.)
  • Do empower them, let the girl make her own decisions (guide her, don’t just tell her what to do)
  • Do convey your understanding that they couldn’t leave the abuse
  • Do affirm their strength, resiliency – even if they say they don’t agree
  • Do convey hope, no matter what
  • Do let them tell their story at their own pace
  • Do add consistency
  • Do what you say you’re going to do
  • Do set boundaries (don’t drown yourself church workers – practice self-care, for you and them!)
  • Do remember that they are looking through a different lens than you are

Please Do NOT:

  • Do not make promises you can’t fulfill or shouldn’t fulfill
  • Do not make assumptions (about anything, ever… ask genuine, non-invasive, and caring questions where needed)
  • Do not ask “Why didn’t you leave/run?” in an accusing tone (instead reframe to say, “It had to be so hard to leave, how did you do it?” when appropriate.)
  • Do not push someone to forgive and forget (the forgiveness aspect is Biblical yes, but please don’t push this right away and the girl will never forget and simply move on, it’s much more complicated that that.)
  • Do not try to get them to criticize their pimp
  • Do not be judgmental!!!
  • Do not touch (hug, embrace, etc) without permission
  • Do not fake emotion (they’ll catch you if you’re fake anyway)
  • Do not engage in trafficking outreach as a church unless you are trained or guided by a professional
  • Do not ask them if they are lying (they will only grow defensive and run)
  • Do not focus on their woundedness, instead, how can they serve as a part of your church. What do they have to offer?
  • Do not ignore the men, and women, in your church who are consumers of the sex industry (pornography, prostitution, strip clubs, etc.)

We need the church to continue to step up in the fight against trafficking.  I’ve seen it done really well, I’ve seen it done really horribly and I’ve seen it be completely ignored… the latter two terrify me.  I wouldn’t be where I am today without my church community but I’m one of the fortunate ones.  Please, let’s don’t break these girls any further, let’s step up and care for them instead.  Let’s love them well.

May this blog serve as an education to those who do not yet know or understand the atrocities of trafficking and may it serve as an encouragement to those who understand it all too well.

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6 Comments

  1. Hi, thank you so much for sharing your story! It must be hard to share, but it is good to get an insight into how survivors cope (or don’t), afterwards, and what they go through. I especially appreciate you sharing a post such as this, as these points are so important for a church/community.
    I have only recently become aware of human trafficking, and am so horrified that I want to do all that I can to educate and raise awareness about the issue, and also help those who are survivors. No cause has ever really gripped me like this one has… It is just beyond comprehension that slavery still exists in the world in any form, especially on such an enormous scale!! 😦 My heart goes out to you and to all those out there who are trapped still.

    Reply
    • Bonnie- thanks so much for your comment. I’m very glad that you have become aware of this issue and sounds like you’re continuing to educate yourself and others– thank you all the more for that! Have you read the book Renting Lacy by Linda Smith? I’d recommend it if not.

      Reply
      • Yes I put stuff on FB about trafficking as often as I can. A couple of my friends have become interested in the cause too, which is great.
        No I haven’t read that book, or any about the issue yet… I really want to though, so will have to add that one to my ‘must read’ list. Thanks for recommending it.

      • Yes, I would definitely add Renting Lacy to your list… in fact, add it to the top. It’s a quick yet hard and reads more like a novel. I’d also reccomend Girls Like Us by Rachel Llyod, Not For Sale by David Batstone and Sex Trafficking by Siddharth Kara.

  1. More of the “C” Word « 9to20
  2. The “C” Word « 9to20

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