November 11, 2019
The increasing epidemic of human trafficking (child labor, underpaid labor, sex trafficking, debt bondage) is one hard pill to swallow; it can be easy to think it is too large an issue for one person to tackle alone. I think where a lot of people struggle in helping in social justice issues is they personally feel that they are not “big enough” or “important enough.” This could not be further from the truth.
I read a story recently of two women from the article “Understanding Human Trafficking in The United States.” These authors are two women who were someone’s daughters, someone’s friends. Their names are Samriah and Enung, and they were “recruited” from Indonesia to live with a kind, American family. This family would provide them work and a way to make their dream happen here in America. These women were promised much by this American family. Once arrived, these women were excessively beaten, abused, starved, and tortured by the family. There was no explanation as to why these women were treated so poorly; the family was twisted and selfish. This is human trafficking and it is happening in America. These women were seen by various witnesses within the home. A witness even saw one of the women crawling up from the basement, her forehead bleeding. They were seen by outsiders, and yet were not rescued from their terrible reality until one of them ran away to the police after five horrible years. Why did no one ask two clearly abused women what was happening?
Recognize signs, friends. Report suspicious behavior. Ask neglected-looking individuals about their lives. Medical professionals have so much opportunity to recognize trafficking victims, like when children or a “family member” do not resemble the rest of their family, or when sickly patients come in with excessive dental decay, HIV, or pelvic pain. The list goes on. Maybe you aren’t a medical professional so these signs feel irrelevant – don’t feel irrelevant. I have seen human trafficking and not known until further learning the signs of it. I could have done something, but I didn’t do anything, and it genuinely hurts me knowing that I could have done more. I don’t want you to look back and realize you could have helped, but didn’t.
There was one night I was driving back to my hometown, somewhere where prostitution is active and known about. I noticed three BMW’s all sitting, turned off, lined up along the curb of an empty street. Seeing this at 1:00 AM as an 18-year-old-girl didn’t make me feel the safest, so the last thing I thought to do was stop and investigate. Although, looking back, I know for a fact that those three well-dressed men, all sitting in their cars, late at night were there with the same intentions. I learned just a bit later that prostitutes will generally wait outside of sight, while pimps roam the streets searching for waiting cars. As the cars wait, pimps select a victim, put them in the car, and they begin their “work”. It is as disgusting and repulsive as it sounds, and I actually saw this all happen. I 100% did not do the right thing in this. Obviously, everyone, stay safe. Make wise decisions and know your boundaries. BUT, if you see this occur, please by all means call the police and report what you have seen. You can do so anonymously (which is what I would recommend), and leave the situation knowing you did all that you could. Even seeing children out and about with adults who seem crude, aggressive, and genuinely disrespectful to the child can be a sign. Asking children you meet about their life is not a bad idea; in fact, be a little nosey if you believe something more may be happening in their current living situation.
Donation to organizations who are actively training medical professionals, counselors, law enforcement, or providing safe homes helps so greatly. Engaging in challenges such as Dressember makes an impact. People ask questions because they don’t understand, but you can help them understand. Ask questions when you don’t understand. It is okay to not know, but push yourself to learn and educate yourself so you may be the positive change the world needs. This world needs more fighters in Jesus’ name. In knowing Christ, we know then that the same Holy Spirit who lived in Moses, John the Baptist, or Paul lives in each of us. The Holy Spirit is not limited to whether or not you believe you are enough; the Holy Spirit is entirely outside of our own comprehension and will use you if you allow Him to.
There is so much I wish I could say in this little post. One blog won’t shake the world; I know that full well, but I hope if anything it is able to give you a glimpse into the life of a human trafficking victim. I think understanding victims starts with allowing ourselves to become uncomfortable for a minute or two. Jesus was fiercely uncomfortable in His most important work, so we should be able to be uncomfortable too if it means bringing forth change. We all have a voice to be used. My greatest hope is that followers of Christ would use their voice, in love, to impact those around them; this is me trying to do that. Please, everyone, know that your voice does 100% matter; YOU matter. Anything you say is heard by those around you, whether you believe they are listening or not.
Human Trafficking Hotline:
Call: 1(888) 373-7888
Text: BeFree to 233733
Human Trafficking Organizations (Donate! It is good for everyone involved!):
International Rescue Committee: https://www.rescue.org
Free the Girls Bras: https://freethegirls.org
Polaris Project: https://polarisproject.org
Shared Hope International: http://sharedhope.org
Written by: Natalie Barsamian
Natalie is a Junior Digital Marketing & Advertising Major, and she decided to write for the blog because getting to share a bit of her story to encourage other students sounded like an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.