I remember when I first learned the human sex trafficking, specifically child sex trafficking existed within the United States. It was bad enough to know that it existed in other countries, but strangely, it was far enough away and out of my world-view that I wasn’t bothered by it. In fact, part of my mindset was, that’s just the way it is – over there.
In 2010, I met Lisa Williams who founded and ran a home for girls, rescued from trafficking, in the foothills of Georgia. Meeting Lisa was and still is a highlight of my life. Understanding the impact she was making in this world changed my life. She worked day and night to rescue these children. She worked with FBI on rescues, stakeouts and court cases. She is brilliant, focused, committed and, well, she is a bad sister. I was none of that.
After several weeks of grieving for these children, trying to figure out how I could help and walking around my office, openly weeping, my assistant took me aside and gently said, “You’ve got to knock it off. THIS isn’t helping anyone. Let’s get it together and do something about it.” And so we did.
As a company we supported Living Water for Girls, sold Lisa's book called, "Beautiful Layers" in our stores and did our best to join our efforts. And then our company went away.
That was 8 years ago. Lisa and I remain connected. Today we work on a national level through Circle of Friends: Celebrating Life (COFCL) to “To assist youth and young women survivors of violence, pornography, prostitution and human trafficking in their efforts to pursue educational endeavors and acquire skills to become self-sufficient.”
I have learned over the years that though I can't rescue, rehabilitate or testify, my part of that equation is to tell the story, to change how we see this and in doing so, hopefully set captives free.
Movies like “Taken” and…. give us a look, but quite honestly it’s not a truthful look in to human sex trafficking. There’s a kidnapping, there’s violence, there’s a rescue. Not so in real life.
Most often, it is a family member who is selling a child, a niece, a nephew, a son or a daughter – in order to purchase drugs, get rich or have power.