Tag 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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Filed under Human Trafficking, Writing

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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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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Tim Matsui, the Genesis Project, and Seattle’s underage sex workers

I have followed photojournalist, Tim Matsui, and his work with the Alexia Foundation for about nine months. It was in his articles I first learned of the Genesis Project, an outreach to underage sex workers in the Seattle area, to help them leave the life or at least give them shelter and care for a time. It was started by a police officer who wanted to help rather than just arrest these kids. I’m excited to see their stories in this documentary.

Coming Soon: “The Long Night” – A Feature-Length Documentary by Tim Matsui & MediaStorm.

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From foster care into the sex trade

The article in the link below from Traffick Alerts brings up a lot of important issues connected with Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and the foster care/social service system. There are no easy answers but something has to be done about criminalizing a child victim who has already been crushed by being sold and exploited. Should they be further traumatized, labeled, and carry a criminal record for life? What is our responsibility as a society?

From foster care into the sex trade.

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