I recently finished revising my novel about a small-town girl who is abducted and trafficked for sex. Although her story is fiction, it's all too real, and it's happening every day in every town. The numbers are staggering, and they aren't numbers.
They're girls... and boys.
I've been trying to process what I've learned about sex-trafficking, but I can't get my mind around it.
I just finished reading 27 Seconds by Anny Donewald. She tells the story of a friend who was trying to console a little boy who was having a meltdown. I picture her friend kneeling, eye-to-eye with the crying boy. "Okay, little buddy, here's the deal. I'm not going to tell you to not cry. I'm not going to tell you how to feel at all. I'm going to stop what we're doing and give you thirty seconds to cry and get everything out. I'm going to time you. Okay? So, when you start crying, cry with everything in you. You can yell, and snot, and scream, and make the ugly face cry and wail as loud as you need to. But when the thirty seconds is up, we have to finish what we were doing."
The little boy wiped his face and stopped crying
at twenty-eight seconds. A huge smile stretched across his face, and he said,
"There! I did it."
Some things make you want to cry, let it all out, yell, snot, scream, make the ugly-face cry, and wail, but then you have to stop crying and go to work.
It's time to stop the demand.
How do stop the demand? You expose it. Most users are otherwise ordinary "decent" men with families, jobs, money, and protected reputations. How many stories have we heard about a pastor, teacher, coach, celebrity, doctor, you name it man who falls from his pedestal after discovery of years of abuse, paid-sex, child porn, or whatever. We gasp with shock as the trusted doctor loses his career, family, reputation, and freedom. We weep with the long line of victims.
What if we demand greater diligence on the front end?
Dr. Nassar at Michigan State had over three hundred victims over decades with hundreds of complaints buried. What if the Title IX coordinator had taken the complaints seriously? What if the prosecutor had been taken to task for not pressing him sooner?
What if Brock Turner, the at-the-time-of-the-crime college swimming star had received a punishment more worthy after leaving his unconscious rape victim beside a dumpster? He served three months of a six month sentence for "twenty minutes of action" as his father described the rape.
What if we each consider the young women being trafficked as our own, our sisters, our daughters, our friends? What if we each took one small step toward changing the culture and stopping the demand?
I don't have the answers. I'm still struggling with the questions. But I wrote my novel to do more than create a great story. I wrote it from the ache in my heart for the women trapped in the life and desperate to get out.
One way to get involved is by supporting local groups engaged in the fight. Search the web for fighters in your area.
Here are a few examples.
Thank you for following me on this journey.