I went to a nursing seminar with my mother-in-law today. The nerd in me loves, loves, loves seminars. I think I could sit through a seminar on a subject that I could care less about and still enjoy it. Maybe not, but you get my point. Today, though, was the first time I sat through one and had to fight back tears. I learned some new things and also received a great reminder on life and love.
We’ve all heard stories on social media about Human Trafficking. Most of them consist of a mom being at a grocery store with her child and a stranger approaches them. It is scary and sad and makes us always look over our shoulders in parking lots. It makes us look suspiciously at people in stores who may have glanced at us and our children one too many times. I cannot imagine how shook up I would be in a situation like that.
Did you know that those situations make up only 2-3%? Trust me when I say that I am not diminishing those stories by any means by pointing out the 2-3% of those forced into such a horrible life. But after listening to the speakers I cannot help but want/need to share my feelings on one of the more common forms of Human Trafficking.
As I’m sitting here trying to figure out where to begin with all of this, I look down and see my new phone case that my husband got me. It is purple. Purple has been my favorite color since I can remember. Many times when I see the color purple, I think of my 8th birthday. My parents locked me out of my room for about a week. There was some work they had to do and it wasn’t safe to go in there, they told me. The morning of my birthday, they unlocked the door and all I could see was purple. The walls, my bookshelf, my dresser, and even my comforter on my bed was the most beautiful color in the world. I felt loved. I felt special. Actually, I more than felt it. I knew that I was loved and special. As a matter of fact, I am crying right now as I type because there hasn’t been a day in my life where I haven’t felt loved. Yes, there have been days where I didn’t feel love from a particular person––but I have always had others that I knew loved me.
Not everyone has that. I met someone today who bravely shared her story and reminded me of how many of us carelessly forget not everyone has real love. Yes, it is carelessly that we do. Because, if it wasn’t carelessly, we’d be fighting more to stop it. We’d be judging less and loving more the way God wants us to.
I know I cannot do her story justice, but I will try to share what I got out of it. She was in and out of foster care homes. One day, her mom contacted her and said she set up for her to go live with her sister and brother-in-law in a different state. She, for the first time, felt her mom loved her and was trying to take care of her. She went. She remembered an exchange of money before getting in the car to go to there. She didn’t think too much of it. Her mom was taking care of her for the first time. She was feeling good.
It began with mental abuse. A slow breaking her down. Then physical abuse. Then sexual abuse. All by her brother-in-law.
Then it really began. Her brother-in-law threw her a “party”. He said it was because he was proud of the beautiful young lady she was becoming. This “party” started with a doctor doing an exam. Then one man, another, and another and another…it was six total men she was forced to have sex with in one night. In between each encounter the doctor came in and reexamined her. It only stopped at six because the last one broke her nose for crying. Her brother-in-law was furious and kicked the man out. He and the doctor swept in and cleaned her up. They took care of her. She felt loved because she had never been shown what real love was. This continued from the age of thirteen to seventeen. A friend at school reported some bruising and said she just knew something was going on. She was taken out of the home. Now, years later, she fights against Human Trafficking.
I’ll share one more story from the main speaker, a nurse. There was a patient––a frequent flyer to the Emergency Department. You know the one, she is always drunk. She doesn’t take care of herself and on and on. She’s the kind of patient most of the staff rolls their eyes at because she’s back again with the same old thing. Here’s the thing with this patient, with this human being. She was drunk because the only way she could cope with her life (because she was a human trafficking victim) was to drink day and night. They found that out. Yep.
Oh, one more thing. Many victims of trafficking have what is called Stockholm Syndrome. They have loyalty to their trafficker, to their pimp. Why? Because they don’t know what real love is. We are all created with a need to be loved and taken care of. They have never been given this basic human need.
Just think about all of this as you go about your day.