Recent news has been replete with three young women from Ohio, held captive for a decade as virtual sex slaves. Community members are wondering what clues they might have missed while the rest of the country eyes their neighbors in a slightly more vigilant way. We would do well to wake up and pay attention to our surroundings, as sexual sin pervades every community and this kind of darkness is not unique to cities like Cleveland.
However, let us not confuse this horror with the face of domestic sex trafficking. One does not have to be kidnapped and chained to feel like she has no option of leaving. All around the country, young people who are homeless, have run away or been kicked out, or who have been seduced by a boyfriend full of promises are being forced, coerced, and tricked into a life of sexual exploitation.
It is happening here.
For years the U COUNT team has been praying for our local community, seeking to discover what is happening in our backyard and hoping to partner with those on the front lines who provide rescue and restoration. We have long wondered what we would find and when we would find it. But we have never doubted that the evil of human trafficking had crossed into our territory.
Our prayers to be available to collaborate have recently been answered as we have been granted much favor by local law enforcement to speak into domestic trafficking issues within Fort Collins city limits. A recent operation briefly covered in The Coloradoan provided us an opportunity to supply Immediate Needs Bags and accommodation to two women. Our desire is to offer bridging services and stand in the gap in our community.
What can you do?
1. Start with becoming a better neighbor. If you notice anything odd, in a nearby home or business, don’t be shy about calling in a citizen report. Investigations often begin as a result of citizen reporting.
2. Educate yourself. To learn more about Sex Trafficking in America, read Renting Lacy by Linda Smith. Come to U COUNT Campaign trainings 101, 201, and 301 where we seek to teach about the face of global sex trafficking (go to www.ucountcampaign.org to learn more). Watch the film Not Today, a U COUNT sponsored major movie hosted at the Carmike Cinema beginning May 24.
3. Pray. Once you have educated yourself on how to pray and what to pray for, be
diligent about praying for victims, traffickers, law enforcement, homes opening, etc.
- Pray for final licensing to come through for Amy’s House (a local residential treatment home for girls under 18.)
- Pray for victims to embrace help when offered and to have the courage to leave.
- Pray for the prosecution of criminals.
- Pray for ongoing softening of law enforcement to view these women as victims.
- Pray for how God might want you to get involved.
- Pray for U COUNT Campaign and our local efforts to be God-led.
To purchase tickets for Not Today, a faith-based, PG-13 film exposing human trafficking in India, go to fandango.com. Showings start Friday, May 24.
(Courtesy of Beth Bruno, Domestic Sex Trafficking Team Manager, U COUNT Campaign)