Category Archives: Human Trafficking

I feel little, broken, invisible, lost…

I found myself saying those words this morning, over and over—in truth, sobbing them. hiding child BWAnd at the very time I need to be the opposite of those things, or so I tell myself. I wanted to hurry past the feelings, push them away, like I have been doing for weeks. I know better. I spent years in therapy trying to expose the buried emotions that kept me from functioning at my fullest. I also spent years as a counselor encouraging clients to “embrace their brokenness” rather than push it away or bury it. And yet, here I am.

As the release of my first book approaches, the turmoil has increased. Rationally, it is not surprising. As a survivor of severe abuse, one of my strongest defenses has been to be invisible, blend into the woodwork, never draw attention, and now I am asking myself to do the opposite: be visible, expose myself, my thoughts, my very heart. And the broken part of me says that is dangerous, deadly. I can argue with the thoughts, but changing the feelings is near impossible. My counselor self says, don’t change the feelings, embrace them.

So I allow myself to feel what I have been pushing away. It’s ugly, painful, terrifying. This world seems huge, unfriendly, just looking for a way to crush me. I am not wanted here.

Oh, I hit a core belief. I am not wanted. Who I am is a mistake. My thoughts are not wanted, my feelings are not wanted. I should never have been born. Ouch. My heart twists with the pain. It is so deep, so fathomless.

I want to rush to counter the belief. I am loved by many people. I am wanted now. I have gifts, thoughts, skills that are valuable and needed. But to rush to that argument diminishes the value of that broken part of me and confirms her beliefs: nobody wants to hear that negative talk, nobody likes a loser—just ask Donald Trump. The world wants to see confidence, power, strength, not ugly, self-pitying weakness.

I have learned over the years, however, that I make truer, deeper connections with others in and through my brokenness. A huge percentage (don’t ask me for numbers; I have no idea) of this world’s population is more familiar with brokenness than power and “success.” Exposing my broken places, being honest about who I am and what I feel, has built more bridges to others than my façade of confidence ever has or will.

My entire novel series, in fact all I’ve ever written, has come out of my brokenness, not my learned skills or my inner power.

The reason I am a modern day abolitionist, the reason I fight for the rights and dignity of all people comes out of my brokenness. moderndayslaveryWhat I’m feeling today—little, broken, invisible, lost—those trapped in slavery, those being trafficked, those being abused, feel every day. I don’t want to shove away my feelings because they keep me connected to 27-30 million slaves around the world and  uncalculated numbers of survivors of abuse.

And so, I embrace my brokenness, and I embrace our broken world. If you are one of the  broken, I hope you feel my heart reaching toward you. And if you should choose to reach back,  my heart is open.

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Not a “Ponography” Site

This weekend I was at the Word Press inaugural blogging conference in Portland. So many bloggers. So many great technical minds. The “happiness lounge” was filled with brilliant, young computer engineers helping bloggers find their blogging nirvana. I was inspired to stop neglecting my poor blog.

So as I was reacquainting myself with the dashboard, I checked the stats on my blog, mostly interested in what countries the visitors were from. It’s amazing to see places listed that I didn’t even know were countries. Then I looked at what search terms people were using to get to my blog and was really disheartened by what I found. Some were searching for “ponography”–yes, spelled that way. My site deals with a lot of anti-trafficking issues, and apparently I tagged one of them as dealing with “ponography”–yes, I made the same spelling error. I’m sure the searchers were not looking for articles on the misuse of children in pornography or the effects of rampant, graphic pornography on the sexual development of adolescents, but that’s what they found. For some reason it makes me feel a little sleazy to know that the Google search engines are directing people my way who are looking for “minor ponography pictures” as if I were promoting one of the very things I stand against.

Writing a blog and being involved in social media is a strange adventure. I’ve never thought of myself as a naive person–I’ve lived waaaay too much life to be that way–but I feel like I’m seeing a whole different world through the internet. Some very wonderful things like being able to connect with people all over the world–over 150 countries in a year. That’s mind-boggling. But there is the dark side too. I’ve been fortunate not to have to deal with negative comments on my site, but I see them on other people’s blogs. People can be so mean-spirited and hateful. Something about anonymity seems to free people from civility. I like honesty, but I believe honesty can, and should, be civil and intelligent. And my hope is–naive as it may seem–that I will be able to keep this blog site a place of shared knowledge and civility.

So those are my musings on this Monday morning. Hope you have a great week.

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Commodification of Women and Children by ISIL

A report from the U.S. State Department today speaks to the commodification of women and children by ISIL, particularly the captured Yezidi population. The State Department strongly condemned ISIL’s actions and called for international support in bringing the offenders to justice. They estimate the number of victims to be in the thousands–women and children being enslaved, brutalized, and trafficked. I agree with the State Department: These acts are barbaric and call for universal condemnation.

State Department Meetings With Yezidi Leaders (Taken Question).

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Courageous Girls Escape Boko Haram

As Halloween approaches I am reminded of the real-life monsters that exist all around the world in different shapes and sizes. The Boko Haram are craven creatures who attack helpless school girls for no better reason than the girls wanted an education.

BBC News – Escaping Boko Haram: How three Nigeria girls found safety http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29762252

I am amazed and humbled by the courage of these three young Nigerian girls in the face of the Boko Haram monsters. And hope that we do not forget the others who are still held captive. These “men” (I started to call them animals, but no animal is this cruel and base) need to be stopped.

This second article talks about some of the things to which these kidnapped girls are subjected. Not an easy read.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2809503/Survivors-reveal-horrific-fate-teenage-girls-kidnapped-Islamic-extremists-Boko-Haram.html

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Face the Fear

You gain 

strength, courage, and confidence

by every experience

in which you look fear in the face.

You must do

the thing you think you cannot do.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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Inspired Courage

I think of those who are still enslaved… and surviving–even though many times they may want to succumb, to give up, they do not. They are my heroes–innumerable, faceless heroes. They are my definition of courage. I think of them, and I’m inspired to work harder, to live better. It requires little courage to live a privileged life, a safe life. Though if one has ever been enslaved, even living in freedom–and relative safety–requires daily courage: to not forget, to not disconnect, to not be tempted to eradicate the scars, to not get lost in the tenebrious labyrinth of regret. Today, I am brave too. 

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The Complexities of Reabolishing Slavery Worldwide

http://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2012/03/world/mauritania.slaverys.last.stronghold/

The above article from CNN focuses on slavery in Mauritania but addresses issues that are worldwide. It is masterful at personalizing the plague of modern day slavery and pointing out the complex issues found in trying to address the practices, beliefs, and customs that are sometimes centuries old.

I’m an American–a privileged, white American–who has a difficult time wrapping my head around the idea that someone would not jump at the chance to be free. But this article helped me realize that it is not so very different from when I was a child, trapped by abuse, not knowing there was anything better out there, afraid to trust, believing that anyone who offered help might only make things worse. I listened to the people in this article, and I heard bits of myself. Now that I’m free, I can see it so clearly, just as the former slaves in this article do.

Modern slavery and human trafficking are complex, multi-dimensional problems, but we have to keep fighting for the sake of those not yet free and those who don’t even realize there is something better out there.

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