America just celebrated the 2014 Superbowl.
The lead up the the Big Game included all the usual: discount prices on favorite game-watching snacks, lots of beer purchases, and some people even went out and updated their Tv so they could view the game with the best clarity possible.
Another part of the lead up to the game was not so light-hearted. Law enforcement in the area around the featured stadium prepped for prostitution stings, and articles were published in the Huffington Post, explaining why the Superbowl continues to bring sex-trafficking along with it.
This dark side was briefly exposed, with sex slavery set in stark contrast to a fun family friendly event.
Then news broke that 45 pimps in four states were arrested, and that 16 trafficked juvenile girls were discovered. I am sure that most people expressed outrage, shock, and horror for the few news cycles that headline was featured in. Then the spotlight was shut off, and we all went back to normal life.
The White Umbrella is right: We mostly live in a bubble, while the victimized girls live in desperation.
The headline reported those 16 girls as "rescued." Well, that is partially true. Wherever they were taken to immediately after the sting, they aren't being forced to sell their bodies. But they are just starting on the road to recovery and to a real life and to genuine freedom. Their story doesn't end with the Feds busting the trafficking ring. We can't pat ourselves on the back and say "See, we're handing the problem. The system works."
No, the system can be declared working when there is no trafficked girl for sale anywhere, anymore!
In the meanwhile, though, their is work to do.
Those girls will need so much, so much support and shelter and time and love and so many trustworthy people in their life. They will need counseling and therapy and care and they will need to re-learn their own worth and identity, if they had ever understood it to begin with.
They must be taught that this is not their shame to carry. That they did nothing, absolutely nothing to ask for this abuse. That that did not deserve this pain. That they are not what their abusers called them. They need to break every pattern that an abuser established in their lives, and they need to wash out every lie they were told with truth.
When I read the details of what trafficking does to a girl, when I read about the damage emotionally and psychologically, I wonder how there could be any hope.
And yet.... there is. This book includes some of the stories. Despite unfathomable trauma, which is described succinctly in the phrase "being forced to do someone's sexual bidding,"despite a justice system that can re-victimize, despite relapse often lack of family support, these girls have managed to live and eventually they can thrive.
I was reading The White Umbrella the day the news broke about the pimps and trafficked girls. Because of this book, I was able to picture the process that will be just beginning for those girls.
It is going to take women and men like the creators of Wellspring to help those girls, to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those girls.
Wellspring Living has a God-sized vision, one that even the founders weren't sure they could hope for.
They want to see sex trafficking ended. Race-based slavery existed on American soil for far too long, and yet it was ended. Sex slavery can be ended as well.
The very fact that the Wellspring girls have made it out of the abuse and degradation alive tells us something. They are strong. They are brave. They are survivors. We need to do what we can to give them the most opportunities possible and to really help them be free.
Thank you Moody for my review copy of The White Umbrella.
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