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How Will You Take Action?

10ways_teamworkAs President Barack Obama proclaims January 2016 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we have the opportunity to open our eyes to what’s happening around us in plain sight.

Human trafficking in all its forms – sex, labor, and organ – is a heinous way of controlling vulnerable human beings for the profit and pleasure of others…and it must end. No longer can we stand by and assume that “it’s not happening in my city.” Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. (If you doubt it’s presence in your area, contact your local FBI field office or simply find your city on Backpage.com and look under adult > erotic.)

Over the last couple of years, I’ve travelled around our nation and interviewed prosecutors, law enforcement, non-profit leaders, and survivors who have all detailed the brutality of human trafficking in our nation. It may be tempting to think of this as a young woman chained up in a basement, but that’s more the exception than the rule. We’re talking about children, women, and even men who have a “chain around their brains” from the manipulation, coercion, and physical violence. They can’t just walk away like many of us presume. They’re stuck in a cycle of victimhood, and they need help.

I want to challenge you to take action – through both education and practical next steps.

In the words of our President, “I call upon businesses, national and community organizations, families, and all Americans to recognize the vital role we can play in ending all forms of slavery and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.”

Yes, you can play a vital role – first by educating yourself and then by taking practical steps. Don’t underestimate what you can do to help end human trafficking. As you read these “10 ways”, listen for the one(s) that capture your heart – the ones that nudge you – and then dive in. You are needed.
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10 Ways to Take Action During National Slavery
and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

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  1. Memorize 888.373.7888 to report a tip or get help. If you want to report a suspicious situation or get help for yourself, you can call 24/7 and speak to someone in English, Spanish, and over 200 more languages.
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  2. Learn the signs that someone may be a vicim of human trafficking. Knowing the red flags and indicators of human trafficking is a key step in identifying more victims and helping them find the assistance they need.
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  3. Discontinue using unhelpful terms such as “prostitute” or “ho” – understanding that a woman is being prostituted or is prostituting herself. Her identity and value are so much greater than being sold for sex. Discontinue using the term “pimp” or “pippin” in a positive light – understanding that there is nothing glamorous or honorable about coercing, manipulating, or forcing a woman to have sex for money.
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  4. Stop purchasing sex. If you are buying sex, please know that women or children don’t enjoy being with you. They fake the experience, because they’ll be beaten if they don’t bring back enough money or accumulate enough money to support their drug addiction. Please consider getting support and developing healthy relationships through programs like Celebrate Recovery or Sexaholics Anonymous.
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  5. Learn what human and sex trafficking laws exist in your area at the city, county, and state levels, and start to understand any deficiencies. Research online or make calls to your elected officials to understand the situation.
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  6. Listen to the IN PLAIN SIGHT Podcast to End Human Trafficking or the Ending Human Trafficking Podcast. Start with the first episode entitled “What is Human Trafficking?” for a good start.
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  7. Watch the IN PLAIN SIGHT documentary at a local screening or via DVD (You can even host your own screening.) This inspiring documentary is both educational and inspiring as it focuses on the work of six female abolitionists who are fighting to end sex trafficking and restore survivors through local aftercare homes. For a faith-based study guide, consider using the 31 Day Devotional & Group Study Guide by yourself or with a small group.
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  8. Read Heroes of Hope: Intimate Conversations with Six Abolitionists and the Sex Trafficking Survivors They Serve to hear the real-life stories of both abolitionists and survivors.
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  9. Start a project, event, campaign, or organization to help end human trafficking in our world. Do what you love to do, and you’ll be doing what this movement needs.
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  10. Support a sex trafficking aftercare home as they rescue and rehabilitate survivors from around the country (not just in their local area).

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There are hundreds of ways to get involved in the movement to end human trafficking. I know it can feel overwhelming, but we don’t need you to do everything – just your part. Maybe you want to increase awareness by hosting an event. Perhaps you’ll start working with a local organization to stop demand. Or, maybe you want to focus on aftercare, prevention, or even research.

Whatever do, do it for those who are vulnerable and broken.
They need you and me to take action to end human trafficking.
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