I get this may be last weeks news, but I've learned there's wisdom in being quick to listen and pray and slow to speak. I'm doing this because something within me fears the thought of saying it.. which means I definitely need to say it. But I'm also doing this because there's some people we're not hearing. Me too.
Before I get into it, I have to preface with this: I'm hitting this conversation from a different angle and in no way do my words aim to minimize or diminish the suffering of any single human. All of this is sickeningly wrong, however there's something (or someone) I fear we might be missing from the conversation.
If anyone has not yet heard about the "Me too" movement or seen it unfold, it aims to bring light to the massively hidden and underrated issue of sexual harassment and assault. Women and men everywhere are posting status updates saying "Me too" if they have experienced a tragic event like this. So far, it is bringing huge awareness and even healing among the many who have kept the secret about the injustice they've suffered.
As an advocate for justice, I'm encouraged to see people speaking into conversations that desperately need to be had right now. It's truly bold and powerful when we are so passionately vulnerable for the sake of a move towards justice. All types of justice. However, speaking in solidarity, like we are now, just scratches the surface. In this case, many women and men are still living in fear of their harassment. Trapped by shame and guilt and bound up in fear of retaliation from their assailant. Many are afraid and hesitate to speak while others are utterly unable to say a word. If that sounds like you too, I want you to know that you are still heard even in your silence. You have a place in this conversation and I'm determined to hold that place open for you until the time when you're ready to speak. However, I also must tell you that you're voice could be the loudest and it could just be the most necessary to turn a spark into a blaze. While this movement is busting through strong-built barriers of fear, shame and guilt in victims of rape culture, I can not be so ignorant so as to think that everyone who is suffering is saying something.
There are people unaccounted for and voices that have been silenced. So while we're having this conversation it's imperative that we do not fail to mention the millions of people trapped in sex trafficking who cannot update their status to "me too". There are children who have 30+ reasons everyday to say it. (I'm. not. kidding). Children caught in sex trafficking rings can be forced into sex with upwards of 30 different people every. day. I'm sorry, WHAT. If that doesn't flip your stomach upside down or make your blood boil, then lemme know and we can talk about it. Human trafficking is one of most well kept secret crimes internationally. It contends highly with the drug trade in terms of secrecy and generation of money. So, if we're having this conversation about sexual abuse, we MUST make sure the hidden children and adults who are currently enslaved to sexual assault are apart of it.
The whole point of this is to make sure you're aware of THEM TOO. With California (and more specifically, Los Angeles) being one of the largest hubs for sex trafficking in the US, we have got to wake up, know what's happening in our neighborhoods, and mobilize. I'm really proud of y'all for speaking out, it's truly a bold and powerful thing. But it can be the beginning of something even more powerful if we pursue it. Now to get factual, 99% of human trafficking victims are never rescued. I can't help but wonder what that number looks like if we pursued justice with conviction.
If we're talking about it, then let's really talk. Let's learn how to bring power to the powerless, freedom to the oppressed, and healing to the broken. Now that is a kingdom movement that changes more than your status.
Warning, it's about to hit home, but I think this is necessary. To all my sisters and brothers who joined in saying "me too": Can you remember the moment you suffered what you did, and imagine what it would be like if it never ended? That is the earth shattered reality of the lives of millions of people. An estimated 21 million people around the world are victims of human trafficking, over 54% of that number are used for sexual exploitation. (remember, trafficking is a hidden crime so the population of trafficked persons is likely to be higher than that). For those of us who can relate and those of us who can only empathize, it's time to speak not only for yourself, but for THEM TOO. Healing begins within you, but is completed through you. I'm certain our voices will shake the natural when we speak for those who are silenced. All of those who are silenced. Be that the trafficked, sexually exploited, physically enslaved, wrongly accused, racially and culturally oppressed, the list goes on.
If you're like me and your heart breaks for the millions trapped in the secret cycle of sex trafficking, say it. Next, learn about it. Find out how to identify it. And ultimately, stop it. Find out how you can get help in safely seeking intervention and join in on modern day abolitionist movements. I listed two organizations below that do a great job of seeking out, caring for, and setting free the inherently valuable souls that are sold into sex trafficking. Check them out to find out more of the facts, how you can help, and how you can train your eye to help find them and free them.
Lastly, whoever you are, whatever your story, know this:
You are loved, you are valuable, you are irreplaceable, your life matters, and you. are. necessary.
Declare that over yourself. And then declare it for #THEMTOO.