Monthly Archives: January 2013

On Human Trafficking in Seattle. This hits close to home.

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January 28, 2013 · 8:05 pm


A little more justice. A little more hope.

The CNN Freedom Project: Ending Modern-Day Slavery

By Vivian Kuo, CNN

Savannah, Georgia, (CNN) — An agent presses against a light blue wall and it gives way. Behind it is a makeshift room made of foam insulation and a cheap plywood frame.

The woman inside is believed to be a victim of a human trafficking ring that law enforcement agents busted during a four-state coordinated raid Wednesday.

She is on a small bed with a thin mattress on springs. A large free-standing mirror sits to the side, and clothes are strewn across the floor.

Upon surveying the scene inside the Savannah, Georgia, townhouse, Brock Nicholson, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent in charge, said he’s never witnessed a situation like this.

“[This] is basically where they had the victim, where she serviced commercial sex acts, her hellish life is. She lived — all of her possessions, the tools of the commercial sex trade — all…

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Afghan girls used to pay off family debt

How can one look into the eyes of this little girl and not be heartbroken for her. Lord have mercy.


By Samuel Burke, CNN

The mother of a little Afghan girl cannot even turn to face her daughter. She looks down in shame as she explains why she must hand the girl over to drug lords.

The father of the girl has done what many Afghan farmers must do to finance their opium farms: borrow money from drug traffickers. But the Afghan government and international forces’ attempt to halt the opium trade has quashed the father’s poppy business, and with it, his ability to pay back the lenders.

The drug lords have taken him hostage to extract a payment.

“I have to give my daughter to release my husband,” the mother explains with the girl at her side. She looks no older than six.

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Male Victims

I’m reblogging this because it fits with some comments I made two weeks ago about this silent population. Male victims require just as much support as female victims. And the silence needs to be broken.

the notepad

When people discuss human trafficking, the usual stereotypical imagery is evoked: an international young woman trafficked across borders, a group of children forced to harvest distant crops, an inner city brothel exposed as exploiting dozens of young girls and women. But rarely do we read of the male victims of human trafficking. Men typically occupy the role of the perpetrator in these stories, but this does not mean that male survivors of trafficking should be denied their status as victims.

Yes, perpetrators of sex-trafficking usually target society’s most vulnerable members (women and children). However, research proves that men are forming an increasingly larger percentage of the victims. An alarming statistic ina 2008 US State Department report on human trafficking reveals that between 2006 and 2008, the percentage of adult male victims of human trafficking jumped from 6% to 45%. In the UK, it’s a similar story: men account for…

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Serial child molester sentenced to 494 years

Serial child molester from Falls sentenced to 494 years – Courier Times: law_crime, walter meyerle, diane gibbons, judge, sexual abuse.

I have to say, I am impressed with this judge. What she did is so rare. Not the stiff sentencing. We’re seeing more of that, but that she encouraged and supported the victims, that she honored them during sentencing by naming each one and the specific crimes committed against them. She gave them humanity, dignity, something their abuser took away from them. And she was senstive to the fact that it is hard for victims to come forward, that children are filled with fear. Judge Diane Gibbons, I applaud you.

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January 25, 2013 · 6:00 pm

Epiphany of Denial

Denial is a powerful thing. Ten years of working as a counselor and director of a small counseling office, I saw lots of it. A (mumbled) number of years in personal counseling revealed its use time and again. Denial. I think I’ve progressed. No, I know I have, and yet I try to write the “About Me” page of my blog and it rears its ugly head again.

I write under a pseudonym for many reasons. I have others to protect, their lives, their reputations. I can be more honest if I don’t have to worry about how this will reflect on them. It is the reason I don’t post a picture of myself. I don’t even want to identify my gender. I want to be as generic as possible. But the truth is, I’m still afraid. I acknowledge some of my fear borders on paranoia. If the wrong person reads this and puts the pieces together, if they knew that I was talking about any of my history, my life, my family might be in danger. I’ve been free for twenty-five years and still I fear. Many of those that hurt me are old men now, and still I fear. It is engrained in my bones, no denying that.

I began my blog just before the national Human Trafficking Awareness Day, not consciously intentional. It just happened that an article inspired me to push through the fear and write. But today, as I was reading articles on human trafficking and thinking about my “About Me” page (which I have been avoiding), I was slapped by the revelation of denial once again.

Through my extended years in counseling, I labeled my life experiences in progressing ways: abuse, molestation, sexual molestation, chronic long-term abuse, rape, torture (I still find it hard to type that word—but that’s what is was), and finally settled on victim of child pornography and prostitution. Though it went on past childhood, denial still wants to leave it there.

One thing I would never have labeled it: “human trafficking”. Why not? I wasn’t “moved”. I wasn’t taken to another country or even another state, that I am aware of. If I was “sold”, I never saw the money exchange hands. My father took me places. There were cameras. There were men and women, often groups. There were horrors I will not recount here. So why not human trafficking? Because denial is ever my friend. Until I looked at this chart produced by the U. S. Department of State based on a UN protocol document defining Human Trafficking:

Human Trafficking is:






























Abuse of Power








Violence/Sexual Exploitation


Forced Labor


Involuntary Servitude


Debt Bondage
  (with unfair wages)


Slavery/Similar practices

If one condition from each category is met, the result is trafficking. For adults, victim consent is irrelevant if one of the Means is employed. For children consent is irrelevant with or without the Means category.

As I looked at this chart, I went kind of cold, denial wavered. I definitely was harbored, albeit in my home (I could not leave, could not escape), and received by others. There was transferring and not just by my father. A teacher from my junior high, linked to my father, was involved with one group. He would take me places during lunch or after school. Column two: there was definitely threat, coercion, deception, and abuse of power. And, in the third column, the top three all apply.

I have said for years that there is a national problem with domestic trafficking—Americans using American children and teens—and on into adulthood when they cannot escape. I think our corporate denial as a nation wants to see it as an evil that exists mostly in other countries or that those who are used here on our shores are brought from other countries. We are an advanced nation. We are enlightened, aware. We would not use our own. (I nearly gagged typing those words.)

It’s easier to track those that transport across national borders or even stateliness, but those who are harbored in their parents’ homes, who seem to live “normal” lives, who are trained (read “tortured” and “threatened”) to keep silent, are much harder to notice or track. They don’t look out of place. They could be any child in any classroom in this country.

Until today, I would never have included myself in that number. I wonder how many other victims in the U.S. would say the same.

I have connected with several other bloggers battling human trafficking. If any of you have resources on American domestic trafficking or organizations that deal specifically with that population, please share with me.

Final note: please do not read my words to say that the abuse of American citizens is more important than the abuse of other nationalities. I abhor the misuse of any human being for sexual purposes or otherwise. It is all equally evil. I ask only because I cannot find much information on this particular aspect of human trafficking.




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Human Trafficking Awareness Day

“When you tell yourself that there is nothing you can do to arrest the global slave trade, you underestimate your own potential and abandon hope for those trapped in captivity.”
-David Batstone, founder of Not For Sale.

I think I am one of those sensitive souls who gets overwhelmed by the evil in this world. I often find myself saying, “It’s too much.” I feel small and powerless against the giants of human trafficking, poverty, and the violation of innocents around the world. I want to do something but don’t know where to start.

Then I am inspired by a twelve-year old girl who opens a lemon-ade stand so she can send money to stop human trafficking. Or an eight year old boy who does chores around his neighborhood so he can help dig a well for a village in remote Uganda where there is no safe water. Or university students who volunteer their time at a local coffee shop whose every resource goes to fighting sex trafficking.

I am an aspiring writer. I’ve been working on a novel series for years. A couple of years ago I made the decision that when I do publish, I will give a portion of the sale of each book to fight the trafficking of humans for sexual purposes, a particularly heinous thing to me. (SVU watchers probably heard a doink, doink there.)

I can also help to raise awareness among those I know through social media and through this blog. Awareness is a first step. I don’t know that we will reabolish slavery in my lifetime–that’s like wanting to eliminate Organized Crime or Global Hunger– but I would like to see a significant reduction in numbers and more help set up for victims. It would be great progress just to hear the majority of people say that yes, there is a problem. Yes, in this country. Yes, in our own area. So many are still unaware because the very nature of this kind of slavery is covert, shrouded in secrecy.

So as my Helen Keller quote from a few days ago says, “I am only one…but I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” I can help to open some eyes.


Filed under Human Trafficking

A tough start

I was propelled out of my procrastination and fear of starting this blog by an article I read this morning from the New York Times by Sohaila Abdulali that set my thoughts to swirling. Ms. Abdulali was gang-raped in Bombay 32 years ago. She was stirred to write this article after the recent events with the girl in New Delhi who died following a gang-rape.  The link for Ms. Adbulali’s article and the one she wrote 30 years ago are at the end of this post.

I would like to think that in thirty years there has been a great deal of growth in awareness and understanding of rape and the survivors of rape, and I suppose that is true in some cultures. But in far too many countries around the world, the victims are still being stigmatized and blamed. The shame and isolation they endure is crushing. Even in the U.S., victims continue to be revictimized by the system.

Ms. Abdulali said in her culture she was taught that the horrible thing about rape is the loss of virginity/virtue and that loss of virtue brings shame on the family, particularly the male relatives. So what about married women who are raped who have no virginity to lose? It is still considered a shame to the husband, why?  They are not shamed because they did not protect their daughters or wives. No, they are dishonored as if the girl had done something wrong, as if she brought it upon herself. This is not only true in India, but in many places around the world.

What the articles did not address, and this is where my mind started whirling, is what happens to boys and men who are raped in these cultures. What is the significant loss for them (according to the same sources)? What are they told? How is the shame transferred to these male victims? I have no doubt that men and boys are raped in those cultures. I’m not sure there is a people group where they are not. I don’t have any study to cite but looking at the human trafficking statistics for males, it is easy to see that sexual predators exist worldwide and will use their power to exploit regardless of gender.

All societies, including the U.S., are still fairly silent on the rape of males. I’m sure a great many go unreported so statistics are skewed.  But the truth is, the damage from rape is the same whether male or female: one’s body is violated and controlled by another; one’s power to choose is taken away; one’s sense of personal wholeness and safety is damaged; and for most, no matter how unfair it is, they will bear the burden of shame. A shame that belongs on the perpetrators. A shame that belongs on the powerful who misuse their power. A shame that belongs on authorities that turn a blind eye. A shame that belongs to societies who want to pretend these problems don’t exist and close their hearts to victims.

I honor Sohaila Abdulali for being a bold woman and speaking out, for taking her life back and finding joy again. I honor all survivors of sexual assault, and do my small part in bringing awareness. Let’s begin to put the shame where it belongs.


Filed under International Issues

Doing the something I can do

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.  
~ Helen Keller


January 9, 2013 · 10:51 pm