Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Trafficking. What words or images come to mind? Shock? Disgust? Anger? Innocent boys and girls and men and women? Sleazy looking men?

Trafficking is very wide-spread and more than likely it is happening in your own backyard. Hard to believe, but it's true. We can't have the attitude that that will never happen to me or a loved one or a friend. Unfortunately it can happen to anyone of us.

One person I know who never thought that she would ever get caught up in this type of life is my good friend from California Wendy Barnes. Raised in Seattle Wendy was deceived by a man who she had a crush on and thought that he was going to be her husband. This man led her into the dark world of trafficking that changed her life forever.

She tells of her ordeal in her book "And Life Continues:Sex Trafficking and My Journey to Freedom." Wendy's story will anger you, bring you to tears, and to your knees crying out to God for innocent victims. I hope that it will inspire you to do something that will rescue victims from this nightmare.

By the grace of God Wendy was able to escape that life of torment. She is a survivor!

What can I do?

Wendy has graciously agreed to write the post below, which should answer our questions. Thanks Wendy and God bless you my dear friend!

What can we do to make people aware of human trafficking? What can people do to rescue/help people who are trapped in human trafficking?

Public awareness of human trafficking is increasing every day—as is the interest in fighting it and in helping victims. That’s the good news. The bad news is that human trafficking rings grow with every day. As Radio Free Europe reports, “Every day, men, women, and children around the world are stripped of their basic rights and trafficked as sex workers, forced laborers, involuntary servants, or for their organs. The International Labor Organization estimates that human trafficking -- fed by poverty and corruption and facilitated by organized crime -- victimizes more than 20 million people globally.”

The other unfortunate news is that there are many myths about human trafficking—one of the most important ones for Americans to understand being that “it doesn’t happen here.” I am continually shocked by how many people still do not know what human trafficking is and where it takes place. Recently, I participated in a discussion at a church, and someone asked about human trafficking. Someone responded, "Isn't that when women are brought to America to work as prostitutes?" That is not an unusual response; many Americans don’t realize that human trafficking is, indeed, taking place in their own back yards, that many of the people they know may actually be victims of human trafficking,that many of the products they buy are made by enslaved human beings.

Trafficking a very uncomfortable subject; people don't want to talk about it. It's easier to shut your eyes and pretend you know nothing about it. People need to be aware of the different forms of trafficking and what it looks like. We need talk about where our products are coming from, and understand that every dollar we spend is a “yes” or “no” vote on trafficking. We need to talk about “our boys being boys” when they go to strip clubs. They, and we, need to understand that the girls at those clubs are not there by choice—they are there because they had no other choice.

So how do we help people become more aware? First, we need to educate ourselves. There are many books, websites, and resources (more about that below) that help us understand the scope of human trafficking. The biggest thing anyone can do is to learn about it and talk about it. Once people become aware, many want to help. The resources below offer specific concrete ways to help.

It’s important to remember that the effort to address human trafficking doesn’t end with the victim’s escape from the dangerous situation. It takes a village to help trafficking survivors, many of whom(especially sex trafficking victims) also face criminal charges. The road from victim/criminal to survivor is a long one. Ultimately, each survivor must rebuild his or her own life, but they can only accomplish that with the support of their communities: help with basic necessities and a safe environment that
promotes healing, learning, and growing for the many years it will take to fully recover. They will have obstacles stemming from “that life” for years to come.

An easy way to help is to contribute to organizations that are fighting trafficking, promoting awareness,and helping survivors…but let me introduce a word of caution. I know of many organizations that rake in lots of financial donations but that rarely ever give direct help to a trafficking survivor. I also know many organizations and people who give deeply from their hearts and wallets and who help victims/survivors directly. Find a survivor and ask her or him who helped the most, and then contribute to that person or organization. Below I’ve listed a few of the organizations that I admire and support.

A word about faith-based support for trafficking victims: Survivors are fragile and are finding their way to their genuine identity. They have been manipulated through violence and false affection, and their self-identity is buried in a mountain of self-doubt and fear. Sharing your faith is fine, but do so without imposing dogma or insisting that they accept your faith principles. Invite them without expectations or judgment to share the comfort you have found in your faith.

Individually, we can’t solve the problem, but together we can work miracles. Below is a list of RESOURCES that I have found to be effective, along with a list of suggested books.

National Human Trafficking Resource Center
Get help, report a tip, request services
1 (888) 373-7888
SMS: 233733 (Text "HELP" or "INFO")
Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
Languages: English, Spanish and 200 more languages

Recognizing the signs

Global Center for Women and Justice
What Is Human Trafficking?
An extensive list of resources and podcasts. Includes contact information if you have questions.

United States Department of State
20 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking

DTS: Dallas Theological Seminary
Human Trafficking: 20 Things You Can Do Today To Stop It
This website offers specific, faith-based ways to help and recommendations for documentaries and books that help raise awareness

RockStarr Ministries
A nonprofit blog promoting help for victims of human trafficking in the United States and around the world.

Abolition Now
Under the supervision of Compassion Connect, Inc., Abolition Now unites churches and collaborates with government agencies, anti-trafficking and other nonprofit organizations to aid in the fight against sex-trafficking through advocacy, awareness, prevention and restoration. The Abolition Now website describes their dozens of related advocacy, aftercare, awareness, prevention, outreach, and shelter programs and organizations around the world.

Examples of Abolition Now programs
House of Engedi is a long-term, women's residential care facility in the state of Oregon specializing in care for victims of sexual exploitation, focusing on each survivors personal strengths to aid in her recovery and empowerment.

Compassion First
Provides long-term holistic aftercare for trafficking survivors, partnered law enforcement training, safe pathways for survivors through the court system, and financial collaboration for rescues of trafficked persons. Actively works with others worldwide working to end modern-day slavery.

Abeni exists to create a safe, confidential place for those working in the Orange County, California, sex trades as well as those being domestically sex trafficked. It is a controversial organization because they serve “voluntary” sex trade and adult industry workers whose lives have taken a dangerous turn—but they are the first to step up, help, and give support to anyone who needs it.

Recommended books:

Walking Prey: How America's Youth Are Vulnerable to Sex Slavery by Holly Austin Smith. Advocate and former victim Holly Austin Smith shows how middle class suburban communities are fast becoming the new epicenter of sex trafficking in America.

In Our Backyard: Human Trafficking in America and What We Can Do to Stop It by Nita Belles. Through true stories and years of boots-on-the-ground experience, Nita Belles helps concerned parents, friends,teachers, law enforcement, government officials, and other leaders understand all forms of trafficking,identify risk factors, and take practical steps to keep their loved ones and neighbors safe from predators.

And Life Continues: Sex Trafficking and My Journey to Freedom by Wendy Barnes. My first-hand account of how I became a victim of human trafficking, why I was unable to leave the man who enslaved me for fifteen years, and the obstacles I overcame to heal and rebuild my life after I was rescued.


  1. I Totally forgot about another organization that is VERY IMPORTANT. Survivors Ink is ran by Jennifer Kempton who is a survivor herself. Pimp brand their victims with tattoos that say with the victim/survivor FOREVER. Survivors Ink works with tattoo artists that either remove the tattoo or creates a beautiful tattoo of the survivors choosing. She also helps survivors who are getting on their feet and need help with furnishings or whatever else they need. Please consider donating to her organization. Peace, Love and Lots of Laughter, Wendy Barnes, Author of 'And Life Continues: Sex Trafficking and My Journey to Freedom.

    1. Thanks so much Wendy! Thanks again for your article and more importantly thanks for your friendship, which I treasure! God bless you!

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