Every day profit-hungry criminals sell innocent adolescents into slavery for sex—in the United States. Our world, particularly the online world, has transformed and spread human sex trafficking into our neighborhoods. Sex trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the world and is a growing epidemic in the U.S. today … and the next victim could be a loved one. Awareness and education about the state of commercial sex victims are the strongest weapons we can fight these predators with.
The commercial sex industry represents a deep, dark world. Yet, truth is truth. Reality is reality. Evil must be exposed. In my book, Deadly Love: Confronting Sex Trafficking of Our Children, I want everyone to see kids the way traffickers, pimps, and Johns see them.
The Most Common Questions
Is "The Life" Really a Choice?
Why Does This Horrid Issue of Sexually Exploiting Children and Young Adults Exist?
The Power of Pornography
Taking Back Our Streets: What Can We Do?
Breaking Freee from Sexual Sin
The following story is true. The people’s names and establishments have been changed, and the dialogue reinterpreted to protect them.
Polk County, Oregon. Readying herself to catch a ride to school, Kaitlin joyfully yelled from her room to her mom, “Only 14 days until graduation! … I can’t wait to get out of this high school!” Only 14 days … Yet, she did admit she’d really miss being on the dance team and the close friendships she made with each girl. When a sentimental wave hit her she’d remind herself, “All of life moves on.”
Kaitlin, a thin attractive girl, with round hazel eyes and shoulder length auburn wavy hair, had been anticipating graduation for two years. Being a high school graduate meant independence, a state of freedom she yearned for, like so many of her other adolescent friends. Being a C-average student, Kaitlin didn’t feel she was “college material,” and knew she’d have to get a job. Being a daughter of a single mom who worked one full-time and one part-time job to pay the bills, there’d be no “vacation.” She knew she’d be expected to get a job, even if she decided to go to community college.
Kaitlin treasured being Jason’s baby sister. Being the only two siblings, they formed a tight bond once Kaitlin got out of her “sassy” years, as Jason called it. She looked up to Jason, a successful auto mechanic who owned his own home on the other side of town. “Most of the customers only want Jase to work on their cars,” she’d brag to her friends. As her role model, Kaitlin believed, “If Jase can be successful, then I can too.”
Kaitlin wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do; just as long as she didn’t have to live at home. She was itching to be “all grown-up.” She’d roll her eyes when Jason would describe her as being “edgy” and a “rebel.”
“Maybe I’ll be a reporter for the local town paper? Or, I could ask my BFF if her mom, who’s a realtor, would hire me to answer phones and stuff. I could work my way up to realtor,” she pondered. Just not quite sure. She just knew she didn’t want to follow in her mom’s footsteps, working as a waitress. The work was too hard and the pay stunk.
Kaitlin’s dad left the family when she was 6 years-old, devastating her and Jason. They both felt they were daddy’s special son and daughter. As a child Kaitlin would long for her mom to play dolls and dress up with her, just like some of her friends’ moms did. She yearned for Mom to take her shopping and come to school events, but her mother claimed she was too busy, or had a migraine from working such long hours and needed to lie down. Because her deep need to feel loved by her parents was not met, Kaitlin created her own imaginative world.
Love at First Sight?
It was a particularly beautiful 66 degree rain-free Oregon day. Kaitlin decided to walk home from school. Could her eyes be deceiving her? Staring at her was the most gorgeous sandy blonde headed dude about 100 yards ahead. She turned around to see if he was looking at someone else. Nope. Wow. This gorgeous guy seems to be interested in me!
“Got a minute?” he asked.
“Sure. What’s up?” She couldn’t imagine what he had on his mind.
“You graduating from high school, right?” he asked.
“Yep, 14 days!” she replied, exposing her beautiful white straight teeth (her braces had finally been taken off a month before).
“Whatcha gonna do then?” he asked.
“Who are you? What’s your name?” she countered.
“Sorry, I’m J.P. You’re Kaitlin, right?”
“How do you know me?”
“You’re gorgeous. How could I not know who you are?”
A little uncomfortable with the comment, she asked, “No really. How do you know who I am?”
J.P. confidently answered, “My nephew’s a jock at your high school. I go to his games when I can. I’ve seen you on the dance team. You’re really good … and hot! I just wanted to meet ya. Is that okay?”
Kaitlin blushed, “Kay. Nice to meet ya J.P.”
“Kaitlin, ever thought of starting your own business?” he inquired.
“Yea. That would be so cool, but what kind of business?”
J.P. answered, “Let’s have a drink and I’ll share some ideas with you.
I’ve got a lot of money and I make people’s business dreams come true. You up for that?”
Pointing left he replied, “Jake’s.”
They walked together six blocks to Jake’s, local pub. They drank two beers a piece and talked for almost two hours about personal stuff and the kinds of businesses J.P. had fronted—from auto shops to beauty salons to pizza parlors to clothing stores. He proposed developing a small local business: a combo coffee shop and vitamin store. “Coffee shops and vitamin stores make big money Kaitlin!”
He told her he desperately needed a few sharp, charismatic, and good looking people like her to build and manage it, which excited Kaitlin. They exchanged contact information. J.P.’s car was already in the pub’s parking lot and so he drove her home.
“I’m going to make your dreams come true Kaitlin. You wait and see,” he shouted as she exited the car. “And don’t tell your mom or your friends since this ain’t set in stone.”
Her heart said to run right back into the car and hug and kiss him, but instead she chose to play it cool and control herself. So she nodded her head in agreement. Her insides were exploding with this exciting news and she had to tell someone. She chose to confide in her older brother Jason.
Two days later she met J.P.’s three business partners. Kaitlin recalled, “These guys embraced me like a little sister, guardian angels. They made me feel important, smart, and protected. After listening to them talk for a while I knew I’d have to lean on them heavily if I was to learn this new business.”
She desperately wanted to be a savvy business person. Yet, the more she hung out with J.P. and this band of entrepreneurs, the more she became confused by their lingo and customs. “They had all these code names and words,” she recollected.
Those two weeks flew by. Kaitlin wanted desperately for J.P. to come to her graduation, but because of the small size of the gym (where graduation was to be held) each graduate had only two tickets to give away. As expected, she gave one to Jason and one to her mom.
J.P. and Kaitlin were pretty tight by now. His flirtatious attitude and rugged handsomeness became hard for her to resist. The day came when they said the “L” word, and declared they were “in love.” Naïve and vulnerable, Kaitlin had no reason to suspect that the man who said he loved her would commit the ultimate betrayal of her trust.
She imagined herself as Mrs. J.P. Riaggnati, wife to the most successful local business mogul. It wasn’t difficult for him to talk her into moving in with him. J.P. played his “Prince Charming” role so well that Kaitlin’s mom didn’t object. She felt her daughter was dating a decent guy. Kaitlin rejoiced in her new role as wife and housekeeper, even though J.P. hadn’t proposed.
One month later J.P. began his real work with Kaitlin. He started slipping ruffies (a.k.a. date rape drug, forget-me-pill; slang for Rohypnol) into her drinks rendering her sleepy, relaxed, drunk, as well as helpless and defenseless. While Kaitlin was under the influence these four thugs were going about their real business—videotaping sex activities for profit… and Kaitlin was the star. There was no building a new coffee and vitamin shop.
Kaitlin remembered, “All of a sudden J.P. had this kind of control over me that I couldn’t break. All the feelings I had of love and protection were switched by disgust and paralyzing fear. My heart cried, ‘I need to talk to Jason!’”
She vaguely remembered, “At first, when I’d come out of it J.P. was irresistible to me because I had lost the ability to make rational decisions. Then when I began to voice my disapproval and desire to leave he did something that shocked me—he threatened to kill and dismember Mom and Jason, starting with Jase.”
“I was always under J.P.’s surveillance. He’d drive me everywhere—to the store, to the hair and nail salon, to the gym. When we’d work out he’d be staring at me. I just figured that was his way of showing love. One day he and the guys got into it outside, and so I quickly made a call of desperation to my brother. I got his voice mail and said, ‘Come pick me up. I’m living in hell Jase.’”
Kaitlin paused. The memories are still fresh in her mind. As difficult as telling her story is, she knew she had to tell it so others might be spared.
Kaitlin continued, “I thought I knew what terror was. But I was wrong. Somehow J.P. found out I called Jase. In retaliation for calling him and “breaking the rules,” they actually went through with their threat and murdered my brother. His cold dead body was found early one morning at the auto shop. The coroner stated he died from blunt force trauma to his head. The weapon: Jase’s tire iron.
“J.P. was all sympathetic and lovey when I told him. I didn’t want to believe it, but I just knew in my gut they all did it. I mean he said he was going to kill him! I had to tell the police—for Jase, for mom. I was able to get to the police station and told a detective my story. I pleaded for their protection. The detective said he’d have to investigate first.”
What happened next can only be described as a horror story.
Kaitlin continued, “When they questioned all four of them they each told the police I was part of the murder—not only part of it, but the master mind behind it. They made up all this stuff that Jase did to me, and said I swore I was going to get even and kill him. What I didn’t know until later was that J.P. had carefully planted evidence (notes and messages about a plan) in the house pointing to me as Jase’s murderer. How do I know that? He told me so! The police believed them coz of the evidence.”
What I’m about to tell you next will shock you, at least it should. Kaitlin today is in Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Oregon serving a life sentence for the crimes of her trafficker. J.P. and the boys were charged as accessories to the crime, and today are serving their sentences. They will be released. Kaitlin will not.
Do you feel like you just entered an episode of the Twilight Zone? This is a tragic story of injustice and victimization. To Kaitlin’s family, this story is a nightmare from which they will never awake. Put yourself in the position of her mother. You have just lost two precious children. Simply tragic.
It is a grim fact: America’s youth are more vulnerable than ever to sex traffickers. These perpetrators crawl through our neighborhoods every day and our youth are walking prey. They cunningly stalk our daughters—in every city, in every small town, and every state in America. And they lure our boys into their world through pornography.
As you read on you will say, “This is hard to believe.” It may not seem possible this could happen in our backyards, but sadly, it is reality. I want to paint a picture for you that is broader and more realistic than what you hear and see in the media. Every person in America needs to gain an honest awareness of the horrors of sex trafficking and prostitution, and recognize widespread misinformation has been disseminated by organizations that present the sex industry as legitimate.
It has been said that the Church today is much more comfortable when all appears stable, neat, and healthy—even though it is anything but. My desire is that the Church would read this book and face this piercing darkness head-on; to have compassion, not judgment.
Every individual can be part of the solution. We can intervene, whether directly or indirectly.
Eradicating the Disease
Think of sex trafficking like a disease—a disease which is infecting all of human civilization. To destroy a disease requires an understanding of it—of its molecular structure and how it functions. It requires revealing the disease’s vulnerable points and a treatment plan. To keep the disease from returning, the host organism must also be understood. The conditions which initially gave rise to the disease must be transformed and rehabilitated.
This simple analogy describes the framework of this book. In Deadly Love we will look beneath the make-up and clothing, beyond the hard language and sexy behavior. We will see these commercial sex workers—adolescent children and young adults, for who they really are—victims. We will meet the buyers and sellers. The text will not be easy to swallow, but it will be the truth.
This is the world of human sex trafficking. It’s time to rise and say, “No more! You can’t have our children!”
Rohypnol is a small white tablet (a Schedule IV drug) with no taste or odor when dissolved in a drink. Just a sip or two will cause a person to slip out of consciousness. The drug creates a sleepy, relaxed, and drunk feeling that lasts 2 to 8 hours. Other effects may include blackouts, with a complete loss of memory, dizziness, respiratory depression and disorientation, nausea, difficulty with motor movements and speaking.
The Most Common Questions
When speaking of prostitutes and sex trafficking the two most common question is: Why don't these victims just leave?
The answer is very complicated The short answer is: These precious victims have been manipulated and brainwashed through tactics of power and control. Depending on how long they’ve been in the life, they have each developed deep beliefs that are hard to let go of. It would be like someone telling us that archeologists and scientists have absolute proof that Jesus Christ never existed; that Christianity has been a major farce. If you have been a Christian for quite some time how would you even begin to process that?
Another common question is: Why don’t they go to the police? The short answer is that most don’t trust cops. When the police raided a home on suspicion of prostitution, the girls hid because the traffickers had convinced them that the police would shoot them. We can only understand their thinking by walking in their shoes.
Is “the Life” Really a Choice?
The answer to this question is an overwhelming “no.” Of course, there are exceptions. You ask, “Kimberly, how did you draw such a conclusion?” The simple answer is I’m a social researcher and miner of information. I’ve read a lot of books and studies on the subject. And my training as a pastoral counselor pointed me to three primary areas that everyone needs to know about so they can draw an educational and realistic answer to this question. Those three areas are:
- The power of our beliefs.
- Trauma experiences.
- Brain biology.
I go through each area thoroughly in the book Deadly Love.
Why Does This Horrid Issue of Sexually Exploiting Children & Young Adults Exist?
Simply put, there are myriads of buyers who want to buy a product, and huge profits to be made by the sellers. There would be no commercial sex industry without male demand—which is why it is a fallacy to believe that prostitution only happens in big cities. Wherever there are men—there is a demand. Male sexual demand has fueled the sexual trade industry for centuries and will probably continue to do so until the incredible millennium that will be ushered in after Christ’s second return.
In America, human trafficking is the second fastest growing criminal industry behind drug trafficking. This is because the combination of high profits and low risk makes trafficking human beings the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. The start-up costs are very low and it is small change to keep a sex slave alive. If one girl makes on average $1500 a night, working 6 days a week, she would bring in $468,000 annually for the pimp. If the average is 7 years of a girl being in “the life,” then she will make over $3.2 million for her pimp. $3.2 million!
The Power of Pornography
It is a fact that the viewing of pornography is the seed that germinates the commercial sex industry. I believe it is the viewing ofAmerican movies and television that seed and open the gateways to pornography. Pornography is said to be a Trojan horse sin, because it opens the door to other sexual sins. The Message version of Proverbs 21:17 says, “You’re addicted to thrills? What an empty life! The pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied.
”The definition of pornography (a.k.a. “porn”) is any: “sexually explicit videos, photographs, writings, or the like, whose purpose is to elicit sexual arousal.” Experts in this field assert that child pornography, and pornography in general, increases a person’s desire for sex with girls, boys, women, or men (or all), and for hooking up with prostitutes. They also say that when men use pornography they are trained to be a buyer of sex, called a “John.” Most buyers of commercial sex workers have spent extensive time viewing children and women in sexual situations, which creates an expectation that the sex worker he buys will live up to. Porn is used extensively to train girls and young women on how to be commercial sex workers—how to behave, what to say, and how to sound. They are forced to watch, learn, and imitate porn stars.
- 37% of all Internet traffic is pornography. There are over 420 million pornographic Internet pages.
- There are 68 million porn search engine requests daily (the #1 search request on the Internet).
- Every year more than 13,000 new porn films are released which will generate $97 billion in annual revenues.
- According to 2004 ABC News report, there is more money in porn than in the National Football League, National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball combined.
- The pornography industry is larger than these top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix, and EarthLink.
- Porn is very prevalent in LGBT community.
- 97% of Christian men acknowledge they have looked at porn.
- 64% of Christian men view porn at least once a month; 55% of those are married.
- 37% of Christian men look at porn several times a week.
- 77% of Christian men between the ages of 18 to 30 view porn at least once a month; 32% of those think they are addicted; 12% are not sure.
- 50% of churchgoing men admit to a serious struggle with porn.
- 65% of Christian men view porn at work.
- 25% of Christian men admit to erasing Internet history to conceal their browsing.
- 34% of churchgoing women have sought out Internet porn.
- 70% of women keep their cyber activities secret.
- Women, more than men, are likely to act out their behaviors in real life, such as having multiple partners, casual sex, or affairs.
- 54% of pastors admitted to viewing Internet porn in the past year, and 30% viewing within the past month.
- 70% of church lay leaders admitted to visiting adult Web sites at least once a week.
- 47% of families say porn is a problem in their home.
- According to Juniper Research, by 2015 mobile adult content and services are expected to reach $2.8 billion, driven primarily through an uptake of video chat and subscription-based services.
Shocking, isn’t it? The bottom line is: Porn is advertising for sex trafficking. Pornography damages relationships, especially our relationship with God.
Our Captured Children
Today porn is not only a choice for adults, but is being viewed in large numbers by our own children:
- 12 to 17 year-olds are the largest consumers of Internet pornography. Approximately 87% of teens have Internet access.
- The average age of exposure has been cited as 11 years-old.
- Researchers cite first exposure as young as 8 years-old.
- 79% of youths’ accidental and unsolicited exposure to porn occurs in the home.
DUI: Deceived Under the Influence
The secret thoughts of a man run over all things, holy, profane, clean, obscene, grave, and light, without shame, or blame. –Thomas Hobbes
Many professionals and pastors see the consumption of pornography akin to a DUI (Driving Under the Influence). Porn, like alcohol, constitutes a danger and elevated risk to the well-being of the person’s family, other vulnerable individuals, and ultimately the community. For example,
- Pornography when consumed impairs social judgments and interactions.
- A relationship exists between the volume of pornography consumed and the degree of impairment. The higher the degree of impairment the greater the risk of injury to self or others.
No doubt, once the door is open to pornography, the individual is under the influence—of the enemy, the devil. They are “Deceived Under the Influence” (DUI). Those in bondage rationalize it’s a weakness, rather than recognizing they’ve been attacked and are under the enemy’s stronghold.
Tim Clinton and Mark Laaser, The Fight of Your Life, (Shippensburg: Destiny Image, 2014), 9, 32, 38-39; PornScar.com, “Statistics.”
Quoted in Tim Clinton and Mark Laaser, The Fight of Your Life, (Shippensburg: Destiny Image, 2014), 32.
Tim Clinton and Mark Laaser, The Fight of Your Life, (Shippensburg: Destiny Image, 2014), 9, 32, 38-39; PornScar.com, “Statistics.”
Quoted in Tim Clinton and Mark Laaser, The Fight of Your Life, (Shippensburg: Destiny Image, 2014), 32.
Baldas, Tresa. (January 22, 2012). “Human trafficking a growing crime in the U.S.” USAToday. Web. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2012-01-22-us-human-trafficking_N.htm
Taking Back Our Streets: What Can We Do?
Parents and Guardians
If something doesn’t seem right, ask questions! If we find our child is viewing pornography or engaging in sexual activities, we should realize he/she may be feeling shame and guilt. An authoritarian response will not likely encourage him/her to open up and share the extent of his/her struggles.
One of the most important things we can do to protect our child is to create an environment in which he/she feels comfortable talking. Compassion, love, and understanding, as Jesus demonstrated to the woman caught in adultery, is more likely to help our child feel safe enough to disclose their full story.
Many families will already have experienced serious communication breakdowns with their teens. How parents approach their teen in this situation will likely determine whether unhealthy patterns of communications will continue to disrupt and frustrate the relationship, or whether a new foundation of openness, trust, and safety can be built and sustained throughout the struggle.
Open communication is a key to prevention. We need to share the dangers of pornography and sex trafficking with our children, and encourage them to alert us when they feel uncomfortable in any situation. Often trafficking victims have experienced victimization in the past, and many times this has been inflicted by individuals close to the victim. Do you trust the people with whom your child interacts? Knowing whom your children are with at all times is crucial to protecting their safety.
If a child goes missing, the legal guardian should immediately call law enforcement and make a report. Then, call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or visit www.cybertipline.com. Taking the extra step to report missing children to NCMEC ensures that all available resources are being employed to assist in the identification and recovery of that child.
When your daughter or son is online, do you know which sites they are visiting and with whom they are communicating? Kids learn about the adult world long before they’re ready. They are vulnerable and need help navigating mass media. It is a parent or guardian’s job to protect their children from poisonous role models. The key is education in media literacy.
Experts recommend that parents limit and regulate all media consumption. They suggest:
- Be involved. Know what media your children are watching and listening to.
- Teach them the purpose of the media: to present news, entertain, educate, or sell products. Show them how some media is used inappropriately to sexualize girls or over-masculinize boys in order to create an “image.” Talk about negative versus positive images.
- Watch television with your child. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, TV programs should be a springboard that spurs curiosity, discussion, and learning. Ask questions about what they learned from the program; what they like or didn’t like about the content and the characters. Tell them what you like and don't like and why. Talk with them, not at them, about the programming.
- Interact. When viewing a particular TV or magazine advertisement, ask, “What do the images and words you see tell you?” “What do they make you think?” Start this process early so that your children know how media can be used in negative versus positive ways.
- Set boundaries and clear limits. Talk about what they’re allowed to watch or listen to, and what they’re not—and why. Then listen and let them talk. Validate their feelings even if they don’t get what they want. That tells them they matter.
- Removal. Take the TV set and computer with Internet access out of their bedroom and put it in a common area. If you decide to eliminate certain media, be ready for push back.
What if you suspect your child has been viewing pornography?
Ask yourself if you have provided your child with comprehensive biblical sex education. Setting proper biblical foundations and boundaries is a crucial step in protecting children from a future sexual disorder. Evaluate and re-evaluate the types and amounts of media you have allowed in the home.
- What have your children been listening to and watching?
- Is their media reinforcing respectful messages about sexuality and the dignity of the person, or is it working to erode foundational biblical principles?
- Do you take the time to monitor what your children do and who they are interacting with on the Internet? (This is a very important step in keeping your child safer.)
An Individual’s Response
You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say that you did not know. –William Wilberforce
The Bible commands us to love and reach out to help others in need: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2); “Love each other as I [Jesus] have loved you” (John 15:12). I don’t think any one of us would argue this. But yet it would not be unusual to be wary and fearful of stepping into this deep, dark, evil world. Unless God has specifically called you to the front lines, you need not worry. There are plenty of things you can do as an individual:
- Raise your level of awareness and educate yourself. Reading this book is a place to start; watch documentaries and movies, and read books and articles about human/sex trafficking.
- Financially support anti-trafficking organizations.
- Host a free sex trafficking awareness night at your church.
- Spot the signs. According to the Polaris Project if you come across a victim you may observe:
- Poor or restrictive working conditions.
- Poor mental health or abnormal behavior.
- Poor physical health; exhaustion.
- Lack of control.
- Inconsistencies in the person’s story.
- Community vigilance: An estimated 33% of victims are delivered from forced servitude because some like you and me noticed something didn’t look right. They reported it instead of walking away.
If you would like to report a tip regarding suspected human trafficking, call 911 in an emergency. Report any suspicious activity to: 1-888-373-7888 or text “HELP” to BeFree (233733).
Should you approach a victim, exercise extreme caution. Do it with great care and discretion—and only if the person is alone. Remember, questioning a victim at the wrong time, even asking the wrong questions at the right time could cost you and the victim your lives. Their life may be endangered if in the presence of a trafficker. (They are constantly being watched.) They most likely will be afraid to answer your questions. They may have strong loyalty bonds to their captor.
The Rescue & Restore Campaign of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers the following questions to help identify victims. Be prayed up and wear your armor (Ephesians 6). Talk to a victim in a safe and confidential environment. Be aware: many victims have been coached to answer these questions to appear they are there by choice.
- What type of work do you do?
- Are you being paid?
- Can you leave your job if you want to?
- Can you come and go as you please?
- Have you or your family ever been threatened?
- What are your living conditions like? Where to do you sleep/eat?
- Are there locks on your doors or windows so you cannot get out?
- What are your working conditions like?
- Do you have to ask permission to eat, sleep, or use the bathroom?
- Has your identification or documentation ever been taken away from you?
Gather as much information you can: descriptions, the exact location where they are seen, license plates, and any other information. If it is a dangerous situation do not intervene but call 911. Remember it is the job of law enforcement, mental health professionals, and legal experts to rescue and conduct in-depth interviews.
Even if you are speaking with them in a safe environment, asking too many or inappropriate questions may re-victimize them and cause unintentional trauma. Be alert—their trafficker may be watching them too which could put their life in danger.
Other things you can do:
- Repost information about missing children. Join search teams. Put up posters. Encourage and give God’s hope to anyone whose child is missing.
- Hitting the porn industry in their wallet is how we the public can help. Craigslist succumbed to public pressure to discontinue their adult services ads in the United States, which shows that we as the public have the power to pressure businesses into cleaning up.
- Frequent “clean hotels.” If you travel do not stay at a motel or hotel that offers pay per view porn. Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott Hotels have dropped these services for this reason. Customers can still access porn through WiFi but this is still a step in the right direction.
Sex traffick rescuer Nicholas Kristof, and co-author of Half the Sky, wrote, “Rescuing girls from brothels is complicated and uncertain, indeed, sometimes impossible. It is most productive to focus efforts on prevention and putting brothels out of business. Never give up!”
The Church’s Response
Hear the word of the LORD … Defend the oppressed. –Isaiah 1:10; 17
“Prior to the American Civil War (1861–1865), fugitive slaves found freedom by following the Underground Railroad, a term for the secret routes from the South to the North and the abolitionists who helped them along the way. Slaves would travel at night for many miles, keeping on track by following the light of the “Drinking Gourd.” This was a code name for the collection of stars known as the Big Dipper, which points to the North Star. Some believe the fugitives also used encoded directions in the lyrics of the song “Follow the Drinking Gourd” to keep them from getting lost as they traveled.
“Both the abolitionists and the “drinking gourd” served as points of light directing the slaves to freedom. The apostle Paul says that believers are to shine as “lights in the world” to show the way to those seeking God’s truth, redemption, and spiritual liberation (Philippians 2:15).
“We live in a dark world that desperately needs to see the light of Jesus Christ. Our calling is to shine forth God’s truth so that others can be directed to the One who redeems and is the path to liberty and life. We point the way to Jesus, the One who is the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). –Our Daily Bread, “The Drinking Gourd,” November 11, 2014.
Adrienne Livingston, Director of Anti-Sex Trafficking Initiatives, WorldVenture, wrote,
“The last thing we want is to do nothing after learning about sex-trafficking. It is easy; we do it all the time. We hear sermons, lectures, radio broadcasts, and read books that go into our minds but that never translate into action. We have friends who told us “I don’t want to learn more. It’s so awful hearing that stuff goes on but I just want to go on with life as normal. Hearing about exploitation makes me feel bad and then I will feel inclined to act and do something, and I don’t want to.” Sadly they probably are not the only ones that think that way. We have a great responsibility to act. God holds us responsible for what we are aware of. With greater knowledge comes greater responsibility.”
We need to ask God to give us compassion for these victims of modern day slavery, as well as the perpetrators, who too are lost in spiritual darkness. We want God to use us to be a light that points to Jesus. Someone said something like, “Evil flourishes where good men walk away and do nothing.”
As a church we light a candle amidst the darkness:
- Pray! Pray that God will change the Church’s pre-conceived perceptions about these victims; to see them through God’s eyes.
- Create a prayer team who will pray for front line responders and everyone else who has made a commitment to help these victims.
- Bring in (or create) awareness and education programs into adult and youth ministries.
- Financially support anti-trafficking organizations.
- Teach at-risk children and youth how to be resilient, and how to create a family from the people around them who are able to love them in a healthy way. We show then they are lovable.
- Provide outreach services to victims, restorative counseling, safe housing and resources—or affiliate with a ministry (or ministries) which provides these services.
- Teach both victims and perpetrators that their lives are important; they’re valuable and made in the image of God; that we all are injured in some way.
People connect to people, not programs. People, not programs, have the ability to help others create a “new normal.” When a victim’s strongest connection is removed (like a pimp), they need to feel connected to someone else. People heal by re-connecting to community. There will be challenges, as always. Implementing a justice ministry within our church will present obstacles which is why prayer for direction and wisdom, and commitment is vital.
Organizations We Can Support in Oregon
The following organizations can always use volunteers and support:
Awareness and Education (sex trafficking to individuals and groups).
Prevention. You may choose to participate or volunteer with organizations that directly work with groups, or engage your group in activities and curriculum that actively works to help stop trafficking before it has a chance to start. Also, consider volunteering in low-income schools and communitites helping to teach kids to read, write and do math. Teach girls, boys, men and women about healthy relationships.
Post-Care. Survivors desperately need rehabilitation and recovery services that include high school completion, job skills training and development, therapy and counseling, and economic stability.
Lobbying. If you feel the call to influence decisions made by officials in a government:
- Have an expert talk with your group about how to influence, change or create laws in your area.
- Contact legislators in Oregon petitioning for tougher laws against trafficking.
- Handout Senator letter sample from Shared Hope International (www.sharedhope.org)
- Handout Legislative Action Center – Juvenile Sex Trafficking Bills & Actions from Shared Hope International (www.sharedhope.org)
Missions. Be part of a group that sends resources to missionaries working to fight sex-trafficking, go on a mission’s trip, or complete an internship working with an organization involved in anti-sex trafficking efforts.
Report suspicious activity. Be watchful for potential trafficking situations and report suspicious activity to either the local Portland Police tip line: (503)-255-0118 or national tip line: (888)-373-7888 (National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline). For safety reasons, do not approach a trafficking victim under most circumstances.
Nita Belles, In Our Backyard: A Christian Perspective on Human Trafficking in the United States, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011).
Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky, (New York: Vintage Books, 2009).
Adrienne Livingston, WorldVenture, “Bibilical Response to Sex-Trafficking,” 2015, Week 7 p. 2.
Breaking Free from Sexual Sin
“Fighting waves of temptation, I attempted to save myself from the infective porn addiction. But, I constantly failed.”Every person who has been addicted to porn has experienced this. Although our culture preaches a message of sexual liberation, the facts tell us serious consequences follow when we act carelessly with God’s gift of sex. Yet, among the rubble of destruction glimmers of light protrude.
Men need to step up to the high calling God has set for them. In the midst of this cultural war on sex, Christian men must grasp that they represent the gospel in everything they do and say, especially in how they conduct their relationships and handle their bodies; the way they treat females, and the way they entertain themselves. The images they view, the temptations they flee, and the sexual standards they live by, are all ways a Christian man testifies that he belongs to Jesus Christ, or not.
The Bible’s message is all about redemption. Jesus Christ set sinners free from the bondage which ultimately leads to destruction. Every person in bondage to porn must have hope and believe Galatians 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free [past tense]. Stand firm, then, [present tense] and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery [like in your past life].”
Those in bondage must recognize that Jesus paid—past tense—a very high price to liberate them from the slavery, guilt, and bondage of sexual sin. He gave His life for their freedom. He gave them new purity, new holiness, and new identities.
Receiving God’s Forgiveness
For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. –Paul, speaking in Romans 7:19-20
Have you ever done something that made you afraid that you had messed up so badly that God could never bless you, even worse, forgive you? This is how many sex/porn addicts feel (and most commercial sex victims). After all, Jesus told the Pharisees that, “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Imagine the righteous Pharisees’ response when Jesus told them they had committed adultery in their hearts! Being male, not even a Pharisee could claim immunity to lust.
The thing about the Pharisees was they tried to control people’s behavior. They never dealt with the heart. Jesus, on the other hand, is always directing our attention away from outside circumstances, inwards towards the heart. Jesus wants us to examine the source of all our desires.
Jesus reminded the Pharisees of the true source of sexual sin. He reminds us that simply looking at someone with sexual desire is destructive and hurtful. Even if a person never acts out physically, the sin of “fantasy lust” affects the heart and other relationships. And it offends God. Sin begins in the heart and God judges our heart towards it.
King David was called a man after God’s heart. Yet he killed, committed adultery, and basically broke all the commandments. The thing that made David different from, for example, his predecessor King Saul is David repented (see Psalm 51). Saul did not.
What matters is our attitude toward sin. It seems to me that if you have a hatred for sin, such as viewing pornography or prostitution, and you still act in it because your flesh is weak, God judges you according to the righteousness of your heart toward Him. Out of your hatred for sin, God will work with you so you’re better able to resist the sin, and thereby, remove the torment you struggle with, resulting in freedom from the sin.
We are all sinners in desperate need of God’s saving grace and forgiveness. Being a giver, forgiveness is His gift to us when we come to Him with a broken contrite heart. It begins with confession; with taking responsibility for what we recognize is sin. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
To confess is to admit to what we’ve done. We agree with God that our actions were wrong (versus trying to hide our sin). For those who confess, God promises He will not remember their sin.
Repentance follows confession. The Greek word for repentance, “metanoia,” means to change one’s mind. It means we turn away and go in the other direction. I recognize my enemy and renounce it. I choose to turn from my sexual sin and run towards Jesus. This is not a one-time event. Anyone who has battled sexual addiction will tell you that you have to willfully repent and renounce every day until you no longer have the desire to turn to porn/sex. Every day you must ask God for help.
Forgiveness is how God heals us. But forgiveness does not always guarantee that a relationship can be restored. Words or gifts don’t demonstrate repentance; changed behaviors over time do (Matthew 7:20; 1 Corinthians 4:20). A repentant person asks, “What would Jesus do in this situation?” It takes a bigger man to be like Jesus!
The Battle Plan (Repentance)
If we wish to change what we do, we must change what we desire.
–Wendy Farley, The Wounding and Healing of Desire
No one can slay such a huge monster without God’s help, particularly when we realize we’re fighting Satan and his forces. God gives us His Word and Spirit to guide and instruct us in our pursuit of recovery, and ultimately, holiness and purity (and true love). There are four steps we must engage in:
Direction: We must decide first which direction we want to turn. We ask, “What kind of person do I want to be?” “What kind of relationship do I want with God, with my spouse/girlfriend, my family?
Submission: Sexual sin requires taking authority over the enemy; breaking free from his influence. James 4:7 tells us to, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Notice the order in which we are to act—submit first, resist second. The word “submit” means to line up under another’s authority. We give up our rights as our own god and willingly submit control to God. Submission is an act of our will, a purposeful intention. It is accepting what God has ordained as His purpose in our circumstances. Yet, when we line up under God’s authority we’re not alone. Someone is standing beside us who is far mightier than the enemy. Secondly, we submit to the authority of our pastors, spiritual leaders, counselors, parents, and anyone else God deems we yield to.
Instruction: We prepare our hearts and minds to hear from God through His Word. On earth, Jesus depended on the Scriptures to guide Him each day. We read the Scriptures, meditate on them, and use them as a springboard to prayer. The way I see it is: If we’re going to be controlled or addicted to something, let it be the Word of God; let’s get addicted to the power of the gospel because Scripture will displace sin, keeping us away from it (Psalm 119:11).
Action: We put the wisdom of God into practice by doing what it says. Daily, we apply it, obey it, and make it a holy habit. Amidst all the conflicting voices out there, we must slow down and listen for the voice of God Himself. If we don’t, then we rely on our own wisdom and make wrong choices. Every day we must seek Him and ask to be filled more with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will give us the desire to hear, digest, and obey God’s Word. For some action will mean putting filters on the computer, avoiding the Internet, finding accountability and prayer partners, changing where they hang out, even ending toxic relationships.
Believe that following Jesus and living under His lordship will in the end bring you the abundant life He promised. Jesus knows we want to feel fully alive. As He feeds and nurtures us, and we spend time in His presence, we heal and grow.
See John 4:6; 19:28; Luke 4:21, Mark 14:49, John 19:28.
The material in this web page has been selected from Deadly Love: Confronting Sex Trafficking of Our Childrenby Kimberly Davidson.
100% of the profits from book sales will be distributed to Freedom Calling: Ending Modern Day Slavery
(a 501c3 organization).