Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Who Are The Victims?

Sorry about the lack of posts lately - somehow around the holidays time always seems to slip away from me! Katelyn & I have both been out of town spending time with family, so that has alot to do with it as well!

As I've been home with my family this holiday season, I've been reminded over & over how fortunate I am to have grown up in such a loving home. I was raised by two wonderful Christian parents (who celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary this year!), & the older I get the more thankful I am for them. Alot of us can probably relate - we really have been blessed.

It got me thinking of how there are so many girls out there who haven't been as lucky as I have - girls who run away from home at a young age because their parents are drug addicts, or they've been abused, or neglected. You see, when kids run away, they are running FROM something, rather than TO something. These are the girls who wind up becoming victims of sex trafficking. Mother Teresa once said, "There is more hunger for love & appreciation in this world than for bread." Before I even heard the words "human trafficking," I used to assume that every prostitute on the street corner was doing it because she chose to, & I used to wonder what could EVER make a woman resort to selling herself like a piece of meat. I came across this awareness video that GEMS Girls organization produced, & it really opened my eyes to WHO these girls are & the sorts of things they go through.

I believe Mother Teresa was right. She saw the need that people all around her had to just be LOVED. One of the most tragic things about this problem is that alot of these young girls are just looking to be loved, they're looking for some sort of father or brother - someone safe. They are deceived by pimps & traffickers to think that these criminals really do care about them & really do have their best interest in mind...& then they wind up trapped. It's a sick, psychological mind game, but when you don't know what real love is, how do you know what it isn't?

Girls need their dads. And being ignored can be one of the worst forms of abuse. I bet you'd be surprised at the number of girls around you fit the profile of a victim of human trafficking. Maybe they've been the lucky ones who have been able to separate themselves from their past or overcome things that have happened to them...but don't forget the ones that are still out there, still searching for someone - ANYONE - to just love them no matter what.

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."
John 15:12

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Follow Up.

Hey guys, I want to follow up my previous post with a couple things. Firstly, I want to elaborate on two things I said in my last post: The first was what I said about the potential of online pornography being video of girls who are actually trafficked & forced to do said videos against their will. There's no way to prove that, & I haven't seen any statistics relating to that theory, but I would venture a guess that probably MOST of the pornography you stumble onto on the internet is of girls who either have no idea that those videos are out there for anyone to see because they were made for someone specific in confidence, or it's of girls who are being forced against their will. Another point that I made but didn't really elaborate on in my previous post was the girl in the first video who said that abuse seems to be what people want to see in pornography. I will let the following interview speak for itself & share my opinion on that matter:

Keep in mind this was 1989.

Ted Bundy, an infamous serial killer, granted an interview to psychologist James Dobson just before he was executed on January 24, 1989. In that interview, he described the agony of his addiction to pornography. Bundy goes back to his roots, explaining the development of his compulsive behavior. He reveals his addiction to hard-core pornography and how it fueled the terrible crimes he committed.

A road that leads to nowhere
When Ted Bundy was thirteen years old, he discovered “dirty magazines” in a dump near his home. He was instantly captivated by them. In time, Bundy became more and more addicted to violent images in magazines and videos. He got his kicks from seeing women being tortured and murdered. When he tired of that, there was only one place his addiction could go - from fantasy to reality.

Bundy, a good-looking, intelligent law student, learned to lure women into his car by various forms of deception. He would put a cast on his arm or leg, then walk across a university campus carrying several books. When he saw an interesting coed standing or walking alone, he’d “accidentally” drop the books near her. The girl would help him gather them and take them to his car. Then he would entice her or push her into the vehicle where she was taken captive. After he had molested the girl and the rage of passion had passed, she would be killed and Bundy would dump her body in a region where it would not be found for months. This went on for years.

By the time he was apprehended, Bundy had killed at least twenty-eight young women and girls in acts too horrible to contemplate. He was finally convicted and sentenced to death for killing a twelve-year-old girl and dumping her body in a pigsty. After more than ten years of appeals and legal maneuvering, a judge gave the order for Bundy’s execution. That week, he asked an attorney to call me and request that I come to Florida State Prison for a final interview.

When I arrived, I discovered a circus-like atmosphere outside the prison. Teenagers carried signs saying “Burn, Bundy, Burn,” and “You’re Dead, Ted.” Also in the crowd were more than 300 reporters who had come to get a story on the killer’s last hours, but Bundy wouldn’t talk to them. He had something important to say, and he believed the media couldn’t be trusted to report it accurately. Therefore, I was invited to bring a camera crew to record his last comments from death.

I’ll never forget that experience. I went through seven steel doors and metal detectors so sensitive that my tie tack and the nails in my shoes were enough to set off an alarm. Finally, I reached an inner chamber where Bundy and I were to meet. He was brought in, strip-searched, and then surrounded by six prison guards while he talked to me. Midway through our conversation, the lights suddenly went dim.

Ted said, “Just wait a moment, and they will come back on.”

I didn’t realize until later what had happened. The prisoner knew that his executioners were testing the electric chair that would take his life the next morning.

Ted Bundy wanted to tell the world about pornography

What was it that Ted Bundy was so anxious to say? He felt he owed it to society to warn of the dangers of hard-core pornography and to explain how it had led him to murder so many innocent women and girls. With tears in his eyes, he described the monster that took possession of him when he had been drinking. His craze to kill was always inflamed by violent pornography. Quoted below is an edited transcript of the conversation that occurred just seventeen hours before Ted was led to the electric chair.

James C. Dobson: It is about 2:30 in the afternoon. You are scheduled to be executed tomorrow morning at 7:00, if you don’t receive another stay. What is going through your mind? What thoughts have you had in these last few days?

Ted: I won’t kid you to say it is something I feel I’m in control of or have come to terms with. It’s a moment-by-moment thing. Sometimes I feel very tranquil and other times I don’t feel tranquil at all. What’s going through my mind right now is to use the minutes and hours I have left as fruitfully as possible. It helps to live in the moment, in the essence that we use it productively. Right now I’m feeling calm, in large part because I’m here with you.

JCD: For the record, you are guilty of killing many women and girls.

Ted: Yes, that’s true.

JCD: How did it happen? Take me back. What are the antecedents of the behavior that we’ve seen? You were raised in what you consider to be a healthy home. You were not physically, sexually or emotionally abused.

Ted: No. And that’s part of the tragedy of this whole situation. I grew up in a wonderful home with two dedicated and loving parents, as one of 5 brothers and sisters. We, as children, were the focus of my parent’s lives. We regularly attended church. My parents did not drink or smoke or gamble. There was no physical abuse or fighting in the home. I’m not saying it was “Leave it to Beaver”, but it was a fine, solid Christian home. I hope no one will try to take the easy way out of this and accuse my family of contributing to this. I know, and I’m trying to tell you as honestly as I know how, what happened.

As a young boy of 12 or 13, I encountered, outside the home, in the local grocery and drug stores, softcore pornography. Young boys explore the sideways and byways of their neighborhoods, and in our neighborhood, people would dump the garbage. From time to time, we would come across books of a harder nature - more graphic. This also included detective magazines, etc., and I want to emphasize this. The most damaging kind of pornography - and I’m talking from hard, real, personal experience - is that that involves violence and sexual violence. The wedding of those two forces - as I know only too well - brings about behavior that is too terrible to describe.

JCD: Walk me through that. What was going on in your mind at that time?

Ted: Before we go any further, it is important to me that people believe what I’m saying. I’m not blaming pornography. I’m not saying it caused me to go out and do certain things. I take full responsibility for all the things that I’ve done. That’s not the question here. The issue is how this kind of literature contributed and helped mold and shape the kinds of violent behavior.

JCD: It fueled your fantasies.

Ted: In the beginning, it fuels this kind of thought process. Then, at a certain time, it is instrumental in crystallizing it, making it into something that is almost a separate entity inside.

JCD: You had gone about as far as you could go in your own fantasy life, with printed material, photos, videos, etc., and then there was the urge to take that step over to a physical event. Ted: Once you become addicted to it, and I look at this as a kind of addiction, you look for more potent, more explicit, more graphic kinds of material. Like an addiction, you keep craving something which is harder and gives you a greater sense of excitement, until you reach the point where the pornography only goes so far - that jumping off point where you begin to think maybe actually doing it will give you that which is just beyond reading about it and looking at it.

JCD: How long did you stay at that point before you actually assaulted someone?

Ted: A couple of years. I was dealing with very strong inhibitions against criminal and violent behavior. That had been conditioned and bred into me from my neighborhood, environment, church, and schools.

I knew it was wrong to think about it, and certainly, to do it was wrong. I was on the edge, and the last vestiges of restraint were being tested constantly, and assailed through the kind of fantasy life that was fueled, largely, by pornography.

JCD: Do you remember what pushed you over that edge? Do you remember the decision to “go for it”? Do you remember where you decided to throw caution to the wind?

Ted: It’s a very difficult thing to describe - the sensation of reaching that point where I knew I couldn’t control it anymore. The barriers I had learned as a child were not enough to hold me back from seeking out and harming somebody.

JCD: Would it be accurate to call that a sexual frenzy?

Ted: That’s one way to describe it - a compulsion, a building up of this destructive energy. Another fact I haven’t mentioned is the use of alcohol. In conjunction with my exposure to pornography, alcohol reduced my inhibitions and pornography eroded them further.

JCD: After you committed your first murder, what was the emotional effect? What happened in the days after that?

Ted: Even all these years later, it is difficult to talk about. Reliving it through talking about it is difficult to say the least, but I want you to understand what happened. It was like coming out of some horrible trance or dream. I can only liken it to (and I don’t want to overdramatize it) being possessed by something so awful and alien, and the next morning waking up and remembering what happened and realizing that in the eyes of the law, and certainly in the eyes of God, you’re responsible. To wake up in the morning and realize what I had done with a clear mind, with all my essential moral and ethical feelings intact, absolutely horrified me.

JCD: You hadn’t known you were capable of that before?

Ted: There is no way to describe the brutal urge to do that, and once it has been satisfied, or spent, and that energy level recedes, I became myself again. Basically, I was a normal person. Ted: I wasn’t some guy hanging out in bars, or a bum. I wasn’t a pervert in the sense that people look at somebody and say, “I know there’s something wrong with him.” I was a normal person. I had good friends. I led a normal life, except for this one, small but very potent and destructive segment that I kept very secret and close to myself. Those of us who have been so influenced by violence in the media, particularly pornographic violence, are not some kind of inherent monsters. We are your sons and husbands. We grew up in regular families. Pornography can reach in and snatch a kid out of any house today. It snatched me out of my home 20 or 30 years ago. As diligent as my parents were, and they were diligent in protecting their children, and as good a Christian home as we had, there is no protection against the kinds of influences that are loose in a society that tolerates....

JCD: Outside these walls, there are several hundred reporters that wanted to talk to you, and you asked me to come because you had something you wanted to say. You feel that hardcore pornography, and the door to it, softcore pornography, is doing untold damage to other people and causing other women to be abused and killed the way you did.

Ted: I’m no social scientist, and I don’t pretend to believe what John Q. Citizen thinks about this, but I’ve lived in prison for a long time now, and I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence. Without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography - deeply consumed by the addiction. The F.B.I.’s own study on serial homicide shows that the most common interest among serial killers is pornographers. It’s true.

JCD: What would your life have been like without that influence?

Ted: I know it would have been far better, not just for me, but for a lot of other people - victims and families. There’s no question that it would have been a better life. I’m absolutely certain it would not have involved this kind of violence.

JCD: If I were able to ask the kind of questions that are being asked, one would be, “Are you thinking about all those victims and their families that are so wounded? Years later, their lives aren’t normal. They will never be normal. Is there remorse?”

Ted: I know people will accuse me of being self-serving, but through God’s help, I have been able to come to the point, much too late, where I can feel the hurt and the pain I am responsible for. Yes. Absolutely! During the past few days, myself and a number of investigators have been talking about unsolved cases - murders I was involved in. It’s hard to talk about all these years later, because it revives all the terrible feelings and thoughts that I have steadfastly and diligently dealt with - I think successfully. It has been reopened and I have felt the pain and the horror of that.

I hope that those who I have caused so much grief, even if they don’t believe my expression of sorrow, will believe what I’m saying now; there are those loose in their towns and communities, like me, whose dangerous impulses are being fueled, day in and day out, by violence in the media in its various forms - particularly sexualized violence. What scares me is when I see what’s on cable T.V. Some of the violence in the movies that come into homes today is stuff they wouldn’t show in X-rated adult theatres 30 years ago.

JCD: The slasher movies?

Ted: That is the most graphic violence on screen, especially when children are unattended or unaware that they could be a Ted Bundy; that they could have a predisposition to that kind of behavior.

JCD: One of the final murders you committed was 12-year-old Kimberly Leach. I think the public outcry is greater there because an innocent child was taken from a playground. What did you feel after that? Were they the normal emotions after that?

Ted: I can’t really talk about that right now. It’s too painful. I would like to be able to convey to you what that experience is like, but I won’t be able to talk about that. I can’t begin to understand the pain that the parents of these children and young women that I have harmed feel. And I can’t restore much to them, if anything. I won’t pretend to, and I don’t even expect them to forgive me. I’m not asking for it. That kind of forgiveness is of God; if they have it, they have it, and if they don’t, maybe they’ll find it someday.

JCD: Do you deserve the punishment the state has inflicted upon you?

Ted: That’s a very good question. I don’t want to die; I won’t kid you. I deserve, certainly, the most extreme punishment society has. And I think society deserves to be protected from me and from others like me. That’s for sure. What I hope will come of our discussion is that I think society deserves to be protected from itself. As we have been talking, there are forces at loose in this country, especially this kind of violent pornography, where, on one hand, well-meaning people will condemn the behavior of a Ted Bundy while they’re walking past a magazine rack full of the very kinds of things that send young kids down the road to being Ted Bundys. That’s the irony.

I’m talking about going beyond retribution, which is what people want with me. There is no way in the world that killing me is going to restore those beautiful children to their parents and correct and soothe the pain. But there are lots of other kids playing in streets around the country today who are going to be dead tomorrow, and the next day, because other young people are reading and seeing the kinds of things that are available in the media today.

JCD: There is tremendous cynicism about you on the outside, I suppose, for good reason. I’m not sure there’s anything you could say that people would believe, yet you told me (and I have heard this through our mutual friend, John Tanner) that you have accepted the forgiveness of Jesus Christ and are a follower and believer in Him. Do you draw strength from that as you approach these final hours?

Ted: I do. I can’t say that being in the Valley of the Shadow of Death is something I’ve become all that accustomed to, and that I’m strong and nothing’s bothering me. It’s no fun. It gets kind of lonely, yet I have to remind myself that every one of us will go through this someday in one way or another.

JCD: It’s appointed unto man.

Ted: Countless millions who have walked this earth before us have gone through this, so this is just an experience we all share.

Ted Bundy was executed at 7:15 am the day after this conversation was recorded. (Source)

You can watch the entire interview here:

The reason I'm following up with this is that I cannot express enough that this is the root of the root of the problem we call sex trafficking. I apologize if my thoughts on this matter seem so disconnected...in actuality this is a matter that's very close to my heart because I've been in a relationship that was destroyed by pornography. I see the effects that it has had on someone I thought that I knew, & I can tell you it's devastating to see the result.

If there's one thing I could say would be MOST effective in fighting human trafficking long term (besides prayer), in my personal opinion it would be protecting ourselves against pornography & educating ourselves on it's effects.

I don't mean to labor this point, but please, please hear me on this. I honestly feel that pornography is the springboard into prostitution & human trafficking, & it is the creation of the demand for sexual exploitation.

I digress. In my next post I'll get back to the human trafficking facts & statistics.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Kate has been busy getting us off the ground with this thing! You can now follow us on Twitter, or email us at Endsexslaverynow@gmail.com. :)

Sooo, getting into it...for today's post I'm going to talk to you guys about something that's actually become really important to me, & that's the effects that pornography has on sex trafficking.

Katelyn & I recently watched the documentary "Sex + Money," & one thing that stood out to me was how connected pornography is to trafficking. In this video excerpt from the documentary, Morgan Perry & her team go to a "porn expo" & interview various people they meet there.
*Warning: Even though this video is censored, be advised there is some graphic content.*
One of the most disturbing things to me in this video is the girl who says that, "abuse seems to be intriguing for most people...they don't like normal stuff anymore."

Here are some statistics for you:
* 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography.
* 79% of youth unwanted exposure to pornography occurs in the home, & the average age of exposure is 11.
* 50% of Christian men & 20% of Christian women are addicted to pornography.
* 80% of people addicted take it offline & act on their fantasies with affairs & casual sex.
* No one knows what percentage of men buy sex - estimates range from 16%-80%.
* 47% of Christian men say porn is a major problem in the home.
* A search in Google on the word 'porn' returned over 165 million pages, & 'XXX' returned more than 200 million.
* Every second, $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography, bringing in $57 billion per year globally; $12 billion of this is in the USA. The porn industry brings in more revenue than the NFL, NBA, & Major League Baseball COMBINED. Child pornography alone generates $3 billion annually.
(Sources: Enough, Newsweek's "The Johns Next Door," YWAM's "30 Days of Prayer for the Voiceless" publication, & "Sex + Money: A National Search For Human Worth.")

When you consider the fact that the internet is the #1 platform for pimps & traffickers to do business (Source), & that pornography is the same as any other drug addiction in that your senses eventually become dull to the drug & you need more to stimulate yourself, I have a hard time thinking that pornography & trafficking are not connected. No connection between legal porn viewing & criminal behavior has been proven, but police have seen a steady increase in pornography related to crimes. (Source) My question is, how many of these pornographic videos online are "starring" trafficked girls?

Referring again to the Newsweek article, in a study done for the purpose of the article, they found that buying sex was so pervasive that the study group could not find men to survey who DON'T do it, & had to loosen the definition in order to find a 100-person control group. They had to settle on a definition of non-sex buyers as "men who have not been to a strip club more than twice in the past year, have not purchased a lap dance, have not used pornography more than once in the last month, & have not purchased phone sex or the services of a sex worker, escort, erotic masseuse, or prostitute." Sex buyers in their study used significantly more pornography than non-buyers, & 3/4 of them said they received sex education from pornography. America has adopted a culture of tolerance where truth is relative & pornography is just something to indulge in when you're bored or lonely. We've normalized sexual perversion in the name of diversity. This is why we've gotten to where we are today, & this is why the face of human trafficking is hidden in plain sight in our country. How dare we question anyone's "truth" or tell them that their lifestyle choices are "wrong"? This tolerance is absolutely REQUIRED in order for trafficking to exist. Where do we draw the line? When do we stop & say, "Actually it IS wrong for you to have sex with a 10-year-old," rather than turn a blind eye & say, "Well, if that's the way THEY want to live..." It's wrong, & it isn't okay.

If our boys are receiving sex education from internet pornography at age 11, they are turning into men who will act out on their fantasies & buy sex. This information SHOULD shock you, & it SHOULD make you uncomfortable. It should also convict & challenge you about what you look at on the internet.

Sex is a supply & demand business. End the demand, stop the supply.

I'll leave you with the testimony of a former prostitute/porn star who gave her life to Christ:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Survey Results

Hello everyone! I just want to start off by echoing something Cara said the other day. We are so amazed and blessed by all of the positive feedback we've gotten so far about this blog! It is massively encouraging to see that people are genuinely interested in knowing more about human trafficking. This has been an issue that has been on our hearts for a while now, and it's so exciting that we're able to share what we've learned with you guys in this way! So THANK YOU so much for being so supportive and encouraging about what God has put on our hearts. I can't even express how much of a blessing it is to Cara and I.

Anyways! As some of you know, I've been working on a research paper on human trafficking for my Sociology class at Carthage. At the beginning of the semester, we were able to pick any topic to research by using interviews, surveys, observation, experiments, and "scholarly" articles. Since I was already researching human trafficking with Cara, I asked my professor if I could write my paper on it. Being an advocate for victims of sexual and domestic abuse herself, she was more than willing to let me do so!

So, as part of my research, I posted a survey on Facebook about human trafficking. My goal in the survey was to find out what people know about human trafficking, and how informed people are on the issue. I received a total of 70 responses from people in the US, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, England, Scotland, and Switzerland. How cool! Looking back at the results, I wish I would've made two separate surveys for those who are living in the States and for those who are not. I would've been interested to see the level of awareness in the US compared to other places. Unfortunately, I didn't think that far ahead!

So with all that being said, I wanted to post some of the survey results for you guys to see. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people that are aware, or at least somewhat aware, of what sex trafficking is.

- When asked if they knew what human trafficking was, 80% responded with a confident "yes," while roughly 18% responded with "somewhat" and 2% responded with "no."

- When asked to give a definition of sex trafficking, the answers were all over the place (and with good reason!) Even so, most people were able to give an accurate explanation of what sex trafficking is.

- When asked where they first heard of human trafficking, 44% of people said "the news" and 37% said "the movie Taken or other movie/TV show."

- When asked where sex trafficking occurs most, 21% of people responded with "other", to which their answers ranged from "everywhere" to "I have no idea." The second highest response was a tie between North America and Thailand at 17%.

- When asked what age group sex trafficking effected the most, 64% responded with "13-17" and 24% responded with "7-12."

- This last question's results were the most interesting to me, and I'm so glad I decided to include this question. I asked what the differences between prostitution and trafficking are. Because this question was short answer, I don't have a percentage, but an overwhelming amount of people considered prostitution to be a choice, while stating that human trafficking is obviously not the choice of the victim. I understand why people would think this; there is a horrible stigma that most cultures associate with prostitution, and understandably so. However, through our research, we have discovered that 9 times out of 10, if given an alternative, a prostitute would escape. I think back to the quote from "The Johns Next Door" that I posted the other day:

"Prostitution is like jumping from a burning building - you could say they made their choice to jump, but you could also say they had no choice."

Through all of my research thus far, this is one of the things that has stood out to me the most. The majority of prostitutes do not choose to sell their bodies just for fun. Women who enter into prostitution are almost always forced in one way or another, whether a pimp is literally forcing them or because it is their desperate attempt to stay alive somehow. Melissa Farley, author of "Prostitution, Trafficking, and Traumatic Stress" puts it this way: "There is a virtual dictionary of lies that conceal the harm of prostitution: voluntary prostitution, words that imply that she consented when in fact, almost always, she had no other survival options than prostitution." Obviously this is not the case for every women who gets into prostitution, but it is fact that most people are unaware of. These women do not need our stigmas and our judgement. They need compassion, and, like the rest of us, they need Christ.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Two posts at the same time!

I just wanted to let all you Twitter people (Twitter...ers? Tweeters? Tweople?) know about some great organizations & awareness advocators you can be following to get daily updates about what's going on in the fight against human trafficking.

@theCAASE - Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation

@StreetlightPHX - One of America's only aftercare facilities for trafficking victims, located in Phoenix, AZ

@TraffickingEnd - Up-to-date statistics & information about human trafficking to raise awareness & how you can help.

@sex_money - "Sex + Money: A National Search for Human Worth" is a documentary about trafficking in America. They are currently finishing up a 50-state tour screening the film.

@dnafoundation - Demi Moore & Ashton Kutcher's organization against sex slavery

@FreeTheSlaves - Free The Slaves, liberating slaves & helping them rebuild their lives.

@OATHcoalition - Oklahomans Against Trafficking of Humans

@GEMSgirls - America's largest organization offering direct services to survivors of domestic trafficking & commercial sexual exploitation.

@BeautyFrmAshes - Beauty From Ashes. This is one of my FAVORITE organizations, not only because they are actively involved in rehabilitation of sex workers & trafficking victims, but because they are constantly tweeting links to current news articles about sex trafficking cases all across the country. They provide amazing information several times a day & tag each article by state. SO helpful!

So there you have it. Follow away, Twitter people!


Since most of the people who are reading this are from the Chicago area (at least, that's what my sitemeter says haha), I thought it might be helpful to post some information that relates specifically to Illinois & the Chicago area. The following information is from the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues (PDF here).

* Chicago has been labeled a national hub for human trafficking because its large airport, central location, & transportation infrastructure make it an ideal port of entry.
This refers specifically to people being brought from other countries to America for the purpose of human trafficking, rather than Americans being trafficked within the country.

* 17,000 people are trafficked annually in the U.S. 50% of these victims are under 18, & 80% are women, yet trafficking is not usually viewed as a form of violence against women.

* In metro Chicago, 16,000 - 25,000 girls & women are involved in prostitution annually. 1/3 of these are involved by the age of 15.

* Only 10% of this industry occurs as prostitutes on street level. The rest occurs through "legal" establishments such as escort services, strip clubs, & massage parlors.

* Traffickers are often organized into sophisticated rings across multiple states. If a girl gets in trouble in one state, they simply sell her to another state.

* In August 2011, nine Chicago gang members were arrested for selling underage girls for sex. Girls as young as 12 were drugged, beaten & threatened; some girls had their faces slashed or were forced into the trunks of cars for long periods of time as punishment. In most cases, sex rings are connected & sell girls back & forth to one another. This is the first case in the United States where wire-taps were used - prior to the IL Safe Children's Act last year, it was illegal to do so. (Source)

* Illinois is one of just four states to allow the judicial system to expunge the convictions of sex trafficking victims who were found guilty of crimes such as prostitution before authorities learned they were forced into the illegal activity. The other states are Maryland, Nevada, & New York. 41 states have failed to adopt strong penalties against human trafficking, & Maine, West Virginia & Wyoming have yet to impose any specific restrictions on the crime. (Source)

For more information about trafficking in Chicago, check out the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation and End Demand Illinois.

Monday, December 12, 2011

God In A Brothel.

Wow! Kate & I have both been so overwhelmed by the positive response to this blog. It's only been 24 hours & it's been so encouraging to hear all of your feedback about what we've been doing so far! I'm really looking forward to seeing how this is going to grow & hopefully impact alot more people as we continue forward.

I recently read a book called "God In A Brothel" by Daniel Walker. A New Zealand native, he worked for 4 years going undercover in brothels all over the world, breaking up dozens of trafficking rings & freeing so many girls. He writes from a personal, candid, & (most importantly) Christian perspective. He experiences things firsthand that most of us could never imagine - & frankly wouldn't want to. It's a great read for anyone who wants to learn more about what sex trafficking looks like across the globe.

For this post, I want to leave you with a few quotes from his book that encouraged me but also challenged me concerning the Church's part in this battle.

"Without thinking, I quietly began to sing [a worship song] under my breath. It was one of those moments when my heart spontaneously began thanking God for who He is: Father to the fatherless & Defender of vulnerable orphans. I thanked Him too for allowing me to experience the sheer exhilaration & joy of having a part to play in the dramatic transformation of a young life....
I realized I was praising God not just for who He is & what He's done in history, but crucially what He had done through me that very day.
I began to wonder what would happen if men everywhere embraced their God-given destiny to defend & protect the vulnerable children & women in their communities. What would happen if, in addition to unleashing their strength, skills, & passion on the sports field, in the office, or behind their computer screens, they discovered their true masculinity by answering this call to arms & action.
I wondered what would happen if the church worldwide took the offensive against oppression & slavery so that such acts of rescue & restoration occurred every day? What would happen within our faith communities if we became proactive in the face of such injustice? Indeed how would our own families, our own discipleship be forever changed if we were all actively involved in some way in rescuing the oppressed & defending the orphan & advocating for the widow?
I also began to wonder what would happen if churches all over the world mobilized their congregations to proactively take the light of Christ into the dark places of sexual slavery in their own communities & cities. What could possibly affect His church more profoundly & influence the world more significantly than meeting God within the darkness & depravity of a brothel." (Emphasis mine.)

"With a mission to fearlessly expose evil & rescue those oppressed & enslaved, the church has been called to be the perfect abolitionist....
During my time investigating human trafficking, the most challenging thing for me was when I found the church to be absent from the fight. At a time when there are more people in slavery than at any other time in history, tragically I found the church in many countries to be largely silent or completely unaware of the slavery around them....
The church has always sought to communicate to a hurting world that God is a rescuer who can save them. Our message has little credibility while we remain afraid, indifferent, & inactive in the face of human slavery occurring in our own backyard.
What would happen if, in the face of the very worst forms of depravity & evil in the world, Christians walked in the knowledge that THEY are the dangerous ones & the ones to be feared?
The successful rescues & devastating failures associated with my work were stirring in me a deep desire to see the church around the world act with courage in the knowledge that light is indeed stronger than any darkness." (Emphasis mine.)

"History has shown us what happens when the church acts on behalf of the vulnerable & the oppressed. As far as the forces of evil are concerned, when Christians love with fearless resolve & obey God regardless of the outcome, they are the most dangerous people on Earth."

"This is what the Lord says:
Maintain justice & do what is right,
for My salvation is close at hand,
& My righteousness will soon be revealed."
- Isaiah 56:1

I want to come back to a point Daniel Walker had in the second quote.
Human trafficking is currently the second-largest criminal industry in the world, second only to drug trafficking (which it is expected to surpass within the next 2 years). There are estimated to be 27 million slaves worldwide (this includes forced labor). This number is TEN TIMES the number of slaves trafficked during the trans-Atlantic slave trade of the 17th, 18th, & 19th centuries. (Source.) That is just unreal to me. Abraham Lincoln must be just turning in his grave.

To read more of what Daniel Walker has to say about his time undercover, you can read an interview with him here, or buy his book here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Well, I guess it's my turn to post!

First off, I am so excited about this blog! Thanks to Pietze for giving us the idea! It's going to be incredibly helpful for Cara and I to have a place to share our thoughts, ideas, and research, especially since I'll be away for most of this next year.

At the beginning of the semester, my Sociology professor decided to let me write my term paper on sex trafficking. It's been awesome to be able to research something that God has put on my heart and get a grade for it at the same time! So, as the semester is ending and I'm putting my paper together, I thought I would just lay out some of the research that we've gathered over the past few months. I put together a whole binder full of "scholarly" editorials and articles that have been used both for personal and school research. So these will just be some of the random bits of information we've found and have complied together.

- "The State Department has estimated that annually up to 20,000 people are trafficked into the United States, out of 800,000 people trafficked worldwide. Many are children between the ages of 12 and 17, who are trafficked here and elsewhere for the sex trade." (As of 2004)

- "In a survey of prostituted women in nine countries including Thailand, the United States, Mexico, South Africa, and Turkey, nearly nine out of ten said they longed to escape."

- "Cases of international sex trafficking have increased public awareness about human trafficking in the United States, yet many people remain unaware that more U.S. citizens are victims of sex trafficking than are foreign nationals."

- "It is important to recognize that the trafficking of thousands of American children for commercial sexual exploitation would not exist if that demand for them were not present."

- "Traffickers, many of whom are part of organized criminal networks, are undoubtedly influenced by profits in an industry in which those are estimated to fall between $32 billion and $91 billion." (As of 2009)

- Although the [sex trafficking] markets are distinct in each nation - shaped by factors such as history, language, and laws - they 'all require some level of tolerance within the community in order to exist.'"

- "Finally, according to a U.S. Department of Justice report, traffickers and pimps target children and youths at 'bus stations, arcades, and malls, focusing on girls who appear to be runaways or without money or job skills.'"

- "Sweden was the first country to outlaw the purchase of sex, making the 'john' the criminal rather than the prostitute."

- "[Prostitution] is like someone jumping from a burning building - you could say they made their choice to jump, but you could also say they had no choice."

- "Research indicates that most prostitutes were sexually abused as girls, and they typically enter 'the life' between the ages of 12 and 14. The majority have drug dependencies, and one third have been threatened with death by pimps, who often use violence to keep them in line."

- "For every john arrested for attempting to buy sex, there are up to 50 women in prostitution arrested."

- "This is the only form of child abused where the child is put behind bars."

- "The most common estimates, oft-repeated by major media, suggest that 100,000 to 300,000 children are trafficked in the United States every year."


"Smuggling and Trafficking." American Magazine. (2004): n. page. Print.

Kotrla, Kimberly. "Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking in the United States." Social Work. 55.2 (2010): n. page. Print.

Bennetts, Leslie. "The Johns Next Door." Newsweek. n. page. Print.

First Post...

Well...this is the first post. I'm so original, right? ;)

If you're reading this, it's probably because I have spoken to you at some point about what God has put on my heart concerning sex trafficking in America. So what IS human trafficking? The definition according to the Victims of Trafficking & Violence Protection Act is as follows:

"a.) Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or
b.) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery."

For the purposes of this blog, we'll mostly be talking about the first part of the definition.

So how does this affect us, in America? You may be surprised to learn that the United States is the number one source & destination country for trafficked women in the entire world; surpassing even China, Thailand, & the Philippines. This means that women are brought from other countries to America for the sole purpose of being sold to men for sex, but it also means that women & girls from our own country are held captive as sex slaves. There are an estimated 100,000-300,000 women & girls in America, right this very moment, that are being forced to have sex with up to 20 different men a day, for money that they will never see. If you need some perspective on that, an NFL football stadium seats about 80,000 people - if we were to fill 3 football stadiums with people, it would be about the same as the number of girls who are literally slaves within our own country right now. The average age that girls enter into this terrible "business" is 12 years old, & they will only live an average of about 7 years upon entering into prostitution. Sex trafficking happens in every city of every state in America, with the largest incidence of slavery being California, Florida, Texas, & New York.

When I first learned that this is actually a reality in our country, & that young girls, CHILDREN, are being forced to live this life against their will, I was shocked & sickened. How can things have gotten this out of control? How can it be that this is happening & NO ONE KNOWS IT?!

I'll be posting alot more statistics & information that I've come across in my research, but I want to share with you what God has spoken to me about what the Church can do to help put a stop to this horrible evil.

One night during my time with the Lord, He showed me Psalm 37:4, which says, "Delight yourself in the Lord & He will give you the desires of your heart." I paused to consider what the desires of my heart actually are; what has the Lord placed on my heart to do in this life? It was then that I heard God whisper to me, "Read the rest of the Psalm."

1 Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy great peace.

12 The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.

14 The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.

16 Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.

18 The days of the blameless are known to the LORD,
and their inheritance will endure forever.
19 In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.

20 But the wicked will perish:
The LORD’s enemies will be like the beauty of the fields,
they will vanish—vanish like smoke.

21 The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously;
22 those the LORD blesses will inherit the land,
but those he curses will be cut off.

23 If the LORD delights in a man’s way,
he makes his steps firm;
24 though he stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

25 I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
26 They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be blessed.

27 Turn from evil and do good;
then you will dwell in the land forever.
28 For the LORD loves the just
and will not forsake his faithful ones.

They will be protected forever,
but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off;
29 the righteous will inherit the land
and dwell in it forever.

30 The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks what is just.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
his feet do not slip.

32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
seeking their very lives;
33 but the LORD will not leave them in their power
or let them be condemned when brought to trial.

34 Wait for the LORD
and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.

35 I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
flourishing like a green tree in its native soil,
36 but he soon passed away and was no more;
though I looked for him, he could not be found.

37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
there is a future
for the man of peace.
38 But all sinners will be destroyed;
the future
of the wicked will be cut off.

39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
40 The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

After reading through the entire thing, I asked God what He wanted to show me through it. He said, "Read it again - this is what I'm going to do about human trafficking." I read it again with that in mind, & I was literally stunned. I was SO struck by how many times God promises that the wicked will be cut off. He spoke to me again, "This is My plan. This is what I'm going to do. But I am calling you as my Church to PRAY, & to intercede & fight battles through your prayers. YOU are going to be the vehicle I use to put a stop to this injustice & bring people to Me." My first inclination was to feel...well, insufficient. I mean, we're talking about such a HUGE problem...& I am such a very small person, with no college degree. Upon saying this to God, He responded, "I hold the keys to death & to the grave, & I have placed before you an open door." Well, there's really no arguing with that.

God is calling us as the Church to be aware of this problem & to do something about it. He is going to bring this injustice to an end, & I believe I could see it happen in my lifetime if the church as a whole really catches onto this vision & is committed to praying in obedience to what God has spoken. This problem demands a response. If we are not a part of the solution, we are contributing to the problem.

My dear friend Kate (who most of you know) & I will be posting our research findings & things that God has spoken to us in this blog. We are asking you to join with us in this fight & to pray with us & educate yourselves about this problem. There are several of you that we've spoken to who have wanted to learn more, & upon the suggestion of my friend Pietze, I thought this might be a good place to start.