For those victimized by trafficking, sometimes the overarching emotion is not fear or hurt, but loneliness. Some girls even go back to “the life” because of it. Some desperately drag friends into the life with them simply because of the innate need for companionship. Have you ever experienced loneliness? True loneliness?

It’s not a “woe is me” mentality. We’re not talking Eeyore here. It’s more of a feeling of being rejected. It’s an intense ache of your soul that’s similar to the grief a person feels after losing a loved one. Your heart tells you that you should be in community with another, but that individual simply isn’t there. You feel so isolated, forgotten, misunderstood and unworthy. A lonely person feels diseased.

Mother Teresa, right, talks with patients coming to the mobile leprosy clinic at Dhapa outside Calcutta, India, in this 1960's handout photo made available 10/10/03. (AP Photo/Missionaries of Charity, HO - NO SALES Original Filename: ITALY_MOTHER_TERESA_ROM117.jpg)

Have you ever thought of what it must have been like for a leper in Biblical times, or for the lepers in modern day Indian leper colonies? I have. You see, leprosy is a chronic disease that’s caused by bacteria. In short, it affects the skin, nerves and eyes of the infected person. One source about the topic said, “For many years, [leprosy] was considered [mysterious and] associated with some type of curse, and persons with the disease were isolated and ostracized.” This statement sounds a lot like our culture’s perception of prostitution today… mysterious, associated with a curse – like being a bad person, and those “diseased” are ostracized. Pimps give their victims a disease called Trauma, by means of injection, through prostitution.

This also reminds me of the HIV/AIDS struggle in our country. HIV positive can probably speak to similar experiences of the judgmental looks, women taking a step back in an elevator or men wiping their hands off on their pants after coming in contact with you. No more can we equate Leprosy, or HIV, or the aftermath of forced prostitution with a person being “bad.” Victims of disease are just that—victims. They are common people affected by a bad disease, not bad people affected by a common disease.

I had the honor of hearing another survivor’s story recently and she too commented on this aspect of loneliness. Like her, my desire to eradicate loneliness is strong. Because of this, I’m sending out a challenge… specifically to churches, faith groups and healthy families: invite in the people with broken pieces! Please do NOT try to go out and build a “safe house” on your own, try to “rescue” girls off the street and into your homes in one night — unless you’re a professional. What I ask instead is that you invite those with broken hearts into your own heart for healing. Churches/faith groups – contact your local professionals (social service providers, law enforcement, etc) to see how you can support their efforts! Families – keep your unit strong and then look into mentor, foster, or adoption programs for children in need! (I’ve been so blessed to read comments from all of you adoptive parents out there!)

We ALL can play some part in curing the leprosy of trafficking.

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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