Systems, Not Symptoms

Systems, Not Symptoms

Imagine going to your primary care physician to seek treatment of symptoms you've been having lately. The physician takes a history and does a physical exam, intending to diagnose the root cause of the issue. But imagine that your physician prescribes you treatment to address only your symptoms and ignores the underlying cause. It would logically follow that you'd likely continue to suffer from the underlying cause, regardless of if your symptoms are temporarily alleviated. You'd likely be frustrated and upset--you want your systems that are under distress to be treated, not just the symptoms of these failing systems. 

Now imagine this same style of treatment for a larger, social epidemic, like HIV/AIDS. Absolutely, symptoms should be addressed and treated, but can you imagine if that's where treatment and research stopped? We would never see the end of HIV/AIDS. Assuredly, our society is not at the eradication point yet, but incredible amounts of time and money are being devoted towards eradicating HIV/AIDS and not just treating the symptoms. 

Ironically, this logical style of treatment often fails to transfer to the social realm. When it comes to human trafficking and specifically sex trafficking in the United States, it has become somewhat trendy to be on the "symptomatic" treatment side. We find and help survivors of trafficking and help rehabilitate them. We bring prevention programs to our youth, in hopes that we will see the amount of victims decrease. 

But how often does our society think of the larger systems at play in sex trafficking? I would venture to say: infrequently. 

The Children's Bureau reports that youth in systems like foster care and juvenile corrections are more likely to be exploited, but how often are we looking to address the brokenness in foster care or in marginalized societies? It seems that we (we = a society at large) are often more willing to donate money to an organization that is helping survivors of trafficking recover than to swim upstream and help a foster child in need. It seems that we are fast to join a 5k to bring awareness to the issue of sex trafficking but hesitant to engage with the poverty and violence around us that perpetuates trafficking. It seems that we are resistant to addressing the demand for purchased sex (the demand is largely comprised of white, middle class men), but willing to help youth who have already been purchased for sex.

Why is this?

Is it because many of the systems are hidden and the "symptom" of trafficking is more visible? Yes. Sex trafficking is a symptom of innumerable failed systems. 

Is it because it's easier to address the symptoms? I would venture to say "yes." It's easier emotionally, financially, spiritually, physically to address the symptoms than it is to do the hard work of digging into the systems and bringing change to those. 

Is it because we aren't equipped to personally address some of these issues? I believe this is a resounding "yes." We are often paralyzed in our ability to swim upstream, because we don't know what to do once we get there.

While I wish I had the final answer right now, I'm still wrestling with these questions and wondering what to do when I swim upstream. But I do know there are tangible ways we can begin addressing the systems, instead of just the symptoms:

  • Mentoring young men. When older men build relationships with younger men and communicate that purchasing sex is not ok and that men have to be the ones who change it, I believe less men will purchase sex.
  • Helping men and women say "no" to pornography, we will see the demand for purchased sex decrease. 
  • Becoming a foster family. When healthy families provide healthy foster placements for male and female youth, the family has the opportunity to change the entire trajectory of the youth's life.
  • Advocating for policies and legislation that help support and rehabilitate families and individuals in need. While many people have differing opinions on welfare and social services, factors like poverty and broken families make a person more likely to be trafficked. Social issues that affect marginalized populations must be addressed.

This list is truly not even scratching the surface. Our society is just now unveiling all of the systemic issues that lead to the symptom of trafficking, but there is still opportunity to do something

Will you consider addressing the systems and not just the symptom of sex trafficking? Will you consider getting involved in swimming upstream to address systemic problems, while also helping to abate the symptoms? Your role in bringing change is invaluable.

UnBound's Evening for Freedom

UnBound's Evening for Freedom

On May 13th, UnBound hosted our first annual Evening for Freedom. One-hundred guests joined us in downtown Seattle to learn about the issue of sex trafficking in Seattle, to celebrate UnBound's accomplishments in the fight against trafficking, and to provide more freedom to women and youth in our city.

The evening consisted of guest speakers from UnBound, hearing from a survivor of sex trafficking helped by UnBound, "dashing" for dessert, a silent auction, live jazz, and a special story-telling segment.

(See more photos at the bottom of the page. All photos by Meghan Klein Photography.)

During the story-telling segment, each guest received a story of a fictional woman served by UnBound on their phone and a set of headphones. Guests listened to their story and shared with the rest of their table about the woman and the need she had. 

Click to listen to one of the stories--the story of Cheyenne.

Illustrations of all 8 stories hung in the background. Featured here is "Victoria." (Illustrations by Michelle Baldwin.)

Illustrations of all 8 stories hung in the background. Featured here is "Victoria."
(Illustrations by Michelle Baldwin.)

We were blown away by the incredible guests at our Evening for Freedom--1,000 nights of freedom were provided at the Hope House. Thank you to all guests, volunteers, and supporters of UnBound! You are truly making a way for freedom to break forth in our city.

- Erin Drum

UnBound's Hike for Hope 2017

UnBound's Hike for Hope 2017

At UnBound, we believe that fighting exploitation takes every person in every sphere of society. One part of our mission is to mobilize people in every sphere to fight human trafficking in small or in large ways and one way we do this is through our Hike for Hope.

On May 20th, 90 people hiked and fundraised to bring freedom to survivors of sex trafficking at UnBound's Hope House. It was an incredible day and each hiker left hopeful and inspired about their part to play in ending sex trafficking in Seattle. Check out the photos below!

Thank you to everyone who participated, fundraised, and donated! You made a way for freedom and hope to be extended to survivors of trafficking. Thank you!

They Need Your Love (A preview from my time at "prison").

They Need Your Love (A preview from my time at "prison").

According to the Children's Bureau, children and youth that are involved in "systems" like foster care, juvenile justice and corrections, and youth who are homeless are at a "high risk of being trafficked." Because of the frequent "lack of stability in their living situation, physical distance from friends and family, and emotional vulnerability" they are often more likely a target for traffickers who are looking to exploit youth.

--

When we look at youth in juvenile corrections systems, we often see a makeup of already-marginalized populations that have faced systemic injustice through the entirety of their short lives. We see youth who most likely have been hurt by those closest to them. And we marginalize and criminalize a group of people who suffered abuse at the hands of people who were supposed to love and care for them: 90% of teen girls in prison are victims of physical, emotional or sexual abuse (1). (Alarmingly, 9 out of 10 women in prostitution report experiencing sexual abuse as a child.)

Even more so, the system further enhances the youth's identity as "bad" or "delinquent" or "unworthy." If this youth has already suffered at the hands of their family or the brokenness of our cultural injustices, they have no positive foundation on which to build their identity. Our society deems them as a criminal and writes them off entirely.

Yet, building positive relationships with youth is one of the strongest influences one can have upon their self-esteem (1). My eyes and heart have been opened to the truth that what these youth need are unconditionally-loving positive relationships.

--

Before my first session at King County's long-term rehabilitation center for children (think "prison"), I was apprehensive. "Am I going to be in a room full of hardened youth who can play me before I know what's going on?" "Am I going to be safe?" "Will they like me or want to come to my group?" While, I will admit, the first time was a bit rocky (imagine if there were 12 teenage siblings testing the new babysitter), something inside me shifted and has cemented during my weekly visits. 

These girls are incredible. There is nothing scary about them. Yes, some of them have done some scary things. But, almost always, those "scary things" were a result of even more "scary things" that had happened to them. Each one of them is incredibly fun and lovable. These teenagers--who use words which I have no idea of the meaning and were born when I was their age--have slowly opened up to let me into their hearts and allowed me to become a friend.

As we laugh together and build friendships, my heart fills with joy but it also breaks. It breaks knowing that these girls have been put in terrible situations in which they did things they would not have done in different circumstances. It breaks knowing that these girls feel excluded and marginalized from "normal" society. And it breaks knowing that, when they leave to go back into the community, they may end up stuck in a cycle that pushes them into exploitation.

Many of these girls have no where to go when they leave--they have no safe, healthy family. In that case, they likely end up in a group home where their "high risk" status for exploitation will persist.

--

I love that I get to help these girls learn strategies to recognize exploitation and stop it from happening. But, when it boils down to it, what we need is a cultural shift.

We need people to LOVE girls, boys, and marginalized populations before they end up in corrections systems. We need people to see "criminals" as "people who endured a lot of pain," and to reach out a helping hand. We need people all over our country who are willing to bring foster children into a safe, loving, and supportive environment. 

We need mentors and people who are willing to believe in the inherent value and ability each of these youth hold. We need people who are willing to do the long and hard work of helping them build a positive identity.

I believe that, when this truly happens all across the board, we will see a sharp decrease in exploitation.

--

I challenge you to do something. Find a  Boys and Girls Club of America location near you and become a big brother or sister. Find a mentorship program in your area and sign up. Become a sports coach and be a safe person for each child. Volunteer in a juvenile detention center in your area and--without judgement--build relationships with the youth.

There are girls and boys waiting for someone to love them, to help them, and to lift them up. There is a role for you to play in loving those who have not received the love they need. Will you play it?

 

--

For photos and narratives of girls in different correctional systems across the country, check out the photo journal here.

1. "Hidden from View: The Plight of Girls in Juvenile Detention." 20 October, 2016.

 

What Does Human Trafficking Look Like?

by Tracy Garza, Hope House Coach

Once a week I have the privilege to meet some of the most remarkable women I’ve ever met. They don’t have degrees, or fancy jobs, or anything really other than a few bags they carry around with them everywhere they go. They are the women you see on the sidewalk while you’re driving down any number of Seattle streets. Maybe you’ve seen them? Or maybe you’ve turned away? Over coffee and breakfast, I meet and talk with these women and listen to parts of their stories that don’t get told often. With few words, they tell me what human trafficking looks like.

Human trafficking doesn’t necessarily look like what you might think. It comes with a whole host of complexities that the average person doesn’t think about in their day to day lives. It looks like an endless cycle of trauma that most likely started as a young child or adolescent. It looks like addiction. It looks like losing your children; it looks like family members searching for days, weeks, months, years to find you. It looks like being shunned by society; it looks like not being wanted. It looks like hopelessness, like there’s no way out. It looks like not having choice; it looks like not knowing who you are. It looks like being forced to trade yourself to eat, to sleep, to be safe. It happens. It happens here in Seattle, even in your neighborhood.

Nearly every time I meet a woman who is being trafficked, she tells me she’s tired of the same old thing, that there’s no hope, that she’s tired, that she can’t live this kind of life anymore, that if only this situation or that situation would change...if only...if only.

At the Hope House, we get to hold hope for those who have no hope. I get the opportunity to share with them amid the hopelessness about God’s heart and about the program of the Hope House--how it is an opportunity to make a change, a way to get out and rest. The Hope House can be the beginning of a road that isn’t as difficult as the one they’re on now. Sometimes they aren’t ready to make a change and leave--and that’s ok. And then sometimes they are ready and I get to invite them into a home.

After leaving trafficking, life isn’t always easy; it can be challenging but rewarding and it looks like hard work. It looks like learning who you are and what you like to do. It looks like taking the difficult steps to pick up the phone to call that family member who you haven’t talked to in years. It looks like the sometimes overwhelming hard work of staying off drugs. It looks like waking up everyday to do something new. It looks like talking to professionals to get help for the trauma you’ve experienced. It looks like navigating a legal system that penalizes you for your own exploitation. It looks like talking to other survivors to share stories. It looks sad, and angry, and frustrating, and sometimes joyful and spontaneous and fun and hopeful.

The fact that there are still people being trafficked means it looks like we all have much work to do--we start by looking. I do this work at the Hope House because God asked me to and I do my best to do what he asks. But, I also do this work because I see that woman, the one no one wants to look at. The woman who people are quick to judge and cast aside. I see her. I see her beauty, her courage, her wisdom, her strength, her spirit that hasn’t given up, and her ability to persevere while facing insurmountable odds. I see God’s face in her face.  If you take the time to look, you will see her too.

 

A Shake in our Perspective

by Caitlynn Gummelt, Hope House Coach

[Sunesis]
The Greek word for “understanding”, which literally means “a flowing together of two rivers. A Picture of two of our lists of facts merging together and our understanding becoming deeper and wider. In 2 Tim 2:7, Paul says “consider what I say and the Lordgive thee understanding (sunesis).

I don’t know about you, but I find It easy to float down the river in my own self raft, filled with thoughts, experiences and perspectives that have led me downstream. I believe along the way in life we have slowly collected these thoughts, whether it be from a mentor, a stranger, professors or peers, which has allowed them to define and shape our perspectives. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about discipleship and leaning into community for fresh vision and growth, however, I’m talking about the views that we might have or that are keeping us from creating space for others to feel understood and heard.

In September, I moved to Seattle, Washington to step into a new role in my life, a Hope House Coach. A role that allows me to walk alongside women who have been commercially sexually exploited. I’m going to be completely honest, I had no idea what to expect, but knew this was a season to “jump in”. It’s been 4 months, and my once “self raft” has been challenged by the shifting and speed of the currents, I have collided into more rocks allowing myself to adapt to new ways as I merge into new streams.

In 2 Corinthians 4:8 we are reminded that “we are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven into despair.” As Paul reminds the church at Corinth of the persecution he endured for the sake of Christ, I can’t help but to believe that when we“ jump in” and take that risk, we allow ourselves to merge into new circumstances, therefore, creating space in our raft to embrace others fully and wholly how God created them. I’ve realized how when we stay restricted to what is comfortable we miss out on allowing God to move. In order to actively anticipate a move of God we must merge and make space.

MERGE: Would we allow God maneuver our raft in new directions with consistency, allowing ourselves to be challenged, uncomfortable and perplexed for the sake of experiencing the move of God that leads to the flow of unity.

SPACE: Would we make room in our rafts to expand our perspective in ways we had never experienced in order for our knowledge and understanding to be stretched and deepened by others.

Again, picture the two rivers. Both rafts from different rivers being tossed to and fro, flipped over and knocked out, everything they have known and collected being challenged and shaken by new experiences. They then merge, flowing together in the same direction, down the same river. Unity.

So what if? What if we allowed God to merge our rafts into new directions? What if we allowed space for others to feel safe, heard and known? I don’t know about you, but I need a little perspective shift here and there, so God shake us, we want to see you move.

The Woman You See

by Erin Drum (Community Engagement and Prevention Director)

You may think you know the story of the woman who is walking the streets of Aurora Avenue in Seattle, selling herself to men each night, and getting her fix in between each client. We see her as someone who became addicted to drugs, lost her job and relationships, and had no way to fuel her drug habit so she chose to become a prostitute. This is the narrative many of us have in our minds of the “prostitutes on Aurora.”

But this woman you see, this nameless face, is most likely the story of a little girl who was a victim of abuse and rape, pimped out by a family member or boyfriend, and given drugs as a tool to subdue her. Fast forward 10 years, a lost education, a lack of rental and credit history, criminal charges for “prostitution” (commercial sex acts that were forced upon her by her pimp), and an addiction to help numb the pain of dozens of “customers” per night… that is the woman you see walking the streets on Aurora. Not someone who chose this life but someone who was forced into selling her body night after night, left without anyone to help, and abandoned without hope.

We know this woman well, as we have served her many times at the UnBound Hope House. At the Hope House–King County’s only home for women over 24 who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation–we’ve witnessed the pain and heartache each woman faces on the street and we bear testimony to the incredible resilience and strength that lies in the recesses of their weathered souls. Each woman’s story is different, yet most bear the resemblance to the forgotten woman–the woman crying out for help with no response.

But in each story of pain lies deep hope. While peeling away layers of years of trauma, an addiction she didn’t ask for, and abuse no person should ever endure, a glimmer begins to appear. Love, connection, and consistency from our staff and members of the community allow this woman to sift through the sheer darkness of her story and discover the pieces of her identity that were stolen. As this process happens, we walk with her through each step and she begins to dream again. She picks up the pieces of who she was, develops facets of herself she’s never seen, and looks toward the future with fresh eyes, full of hope and determination. The one who started as a nameless face on Aurora has been given a second chance and is tackling her future with incomparable fortitude.

Now think back to that forgotten woman on Aurora. If she could, she would ask you, “Please look at me with eyes of compassion, not with eyes of judgment.” She would say, “I need help. Will you be the one who stops and helps?” She may say, “I’m not ready just yet to receive your help,” but you must keep offering. She will request, “I need a team of people to support me and help me recover. Can you help me find my team?” When she is lost in the darkness, she will ask of you, “Will you stand by me? Will you choose to fight for me when I can’t fight for myself?”

The power of human connection is immeasurable. What she needs–the nameless woman on Aurora–is someone who will stop, who will see her as valuable, and who will choose to do what it takes to walk with her along the path ahead.

Seattle is consistently ranked among the top cities for sex trafficking and the solution is in our own hands. Will you choose to help end it? The ways you can join the fight are innumerable. Don’t sit by passively and allow sex trafficking happen in your own backyard. Choose to do something. This is an issue that demands the attention of everyone. Visit our “Join the Fight” page to learn how you can play a part in ending sex trafficking in our city.

She is waiting for you to reach out a hand of compassion and help. Will you respond to her cry for help?

The Simple Beauty of Normal

The Simple Beauty of Normal

By Lynette, Hope House Coach

Normal is underrated. 

Grocery shopping is not a trending topic on Facebook these days, people are not raving about driving to the library and newspapers aren’t covered in photos of my laundry or my trip to the car wash. The glory and glamour are seemingly found in the things we deem epic and adventurous. Take Instagram for example.  It is filled with the  highlight reel of our lives; our most epic moments.  Even the normal things we post are filtered and arranged to look a bit more extraordinary. Let’s be real, who hasn’t taken numerous photos of their feet or perfectly sprinkled donut? I definitely have. Many times. I, too, overlook the beauty of normal. The past few months, however,  have changed my perspective. 

Over the last year or so I have worked as a Coach at the Hope House and have explained to countless people what it is that I do. The simple, 30-seconds-in-an-elevator spiel I give to folks is that I simply live daily life with the women at the house. Nothing epic or exciting but it is quite honestly the truth. Yes, it is sometimes more than that. There are the not so normal days where the realities of working with women who have been sexually exploited are evident and they are heavy and they are hard.

However, there are often days that are filled with beautiful normal moments like making dinner together, blasting a Kirk Franklin CD on repeat as we drive to the library, or freaking out and making predictions about our latest netflix obsession , Once Upon A Time. The normal that I often take for granted is a treasure to the women I serve. Their old “normal”  may have been filled with trying to find food or wondering about their safety every waking hour of the day. Because of that, simple things like enjoying a day with the windows open or youtubing videos on how to make coconut milk from scratch become a huge deal! They may not seem glamorous but these normal moments are powerful for women on the journey of restoration. These simple beautiful moments are glimpses of hope. They offer a window into a life that many women were robbed of. In living day to day life with the women, in between the epic and average I have come to appreciate the simple beauty of normal because they do. Because now, they can. 

Let's Talk About Pornography

Let's Talk About Pornography

Pornography. A hotly-debated, divisive topic. Why would an organization fighting sex trafficking need to talk about pornography? Well, as we dive into in this discussion, the connection between pornography and sex trafficking is direct and indisputably intertwined.

Before jumping into the research indicting pornography, let's pause and clarify: if you are reading this and watch pornography occasionally, regularly, or even in an addictive manner, we are not here to judge you. We do not see you with scorn or shame. There is hope and there is help. You will find some resources for getting help at the bottom of the page.

Before continuing, take two minutes to watch this video by Rescue Freedom's #refusetoclick campaign.


Definitions

By definition in the United States law (The Trafficking Victims Protection Act or TVPA, 2000), a victim of sex trafficking is a person who is induced to perform commercial sex act through force, fraud, or coercion. "Any person under age 18 who performs a commercial sex act is considered a victim of human trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion was present." [1] A commercial sex act is any sexual performance done in exchange for money, food, drugs, shelter, food, or any other item of value. [2]

A study in 2013 (already 3 years ago) found that "teen porn" made up for at least 1/3 of all pornography consumed. [3] By definition, according to the TVPA, a commercial sex act of a minor is sex trafficking. In this case, a minor in pornography performing a commercial sex act is, in and of itself, human trafficking.

Additional clarification for the following research: we consider the term "prostitution" (which you will see many times in the research below) sex trafficking, according to the TVPA definition. We believe that money exchanged for commercial sexual acts is coercion which fits the TVPA definition of human trafficking. As the CT Department of Children and Families says, "While a few individuals do make the active, voluntary choice to become a prostitute, most prostitutes are forced into sexual slavery and see very little, if any of the monetary rewards."

Definitions aside, let's look at some qualitative and quantitative research and conclusions we can deduce.

Pornography is sex trafficking

Shelley Lubben used to be in pornographic films and put it this way "[Pornography] is sex trafficking. It’s called [a] cutthroat business because it’s trafficking; all of us have been coerced into doing a scene we didn’t wanna do. Another way [is that] pornographers make false promises: ‘If you do this scene I promise that you’re going to get this money, or you’re going to get the box cover’ or, ‘You won’t have to do this kind of scene anymore.’ It’s all based on lies." [4

One buyer of prostituted women in a 2004 research study said he made no distinction between women in prostitution and women in pornography. “Yes, the woman in pornography is a prostitute. They’re prostituting before the cameras. They’re getting money from a film company rather than individuals.” [5] The same study found that 49% of women in prostitution in 9 countries said that pornography was made of them while they were in prostitution. [5

Women (and men) are frequently tricked into filming pornography through jobs falsely promoted as modeling or are forced into videotaped commercial sex acts by threat of violence. This is force. This is fraud. This is sex trafficking.

The women (and men) you see on screen are often being manipulated for forced into filming pornography. Their "choice" to be there is most often not a choice at all. According to the TVPA definition, that is sex trafficking. The women (and men) on screen are not "actors." They are women (and men) who are being coerced, forced, or defrauded into performing sex acts on film in exchange for money or a good. This is sex trafficking. 

If a person is paying for pornography or even just "paying" by clicking on a free video--the company is still getting money from a "free" click--they are, in essence, purchasing sex from a person who is coerced, forced, or defrauded into the commercial act. Watching pornography is not a harmless, individual activity. Watching pornography harms the lives of other humans.

The acts of making and watching pornography are sex trafficking. 

Pornography increases demand for trafficking

Pornography also fuels the demand for sex trafficking. Pornography is purchased sex--it is simply delivered via the internet. And the experience of purchased sex online creates a greater drive to purchase sex offline. According to Harvard Law School professor, Catherine Mackinon, “consuming pornography is an experience of bought sex.” Pornography creates more of a desire to objectify and purchase women as well as try out what they see on screen. [6]

Additionally, men frequently derive their sexual fantasies and sexual norms from pornography. This creates a problem if their sexual partner does not want to engage in the often violent or degrading sexual acts that their partner is seeing in pornography. Consequently, men who view pornography are more likely to purchase sex from women in prostitution and act out what they have seen in pornography. One survey said that 80% of women in prostitution had been showed porn by the buyer to show them what they wanted to do. [7

Pornography is the dress rehearsal for engaging in purchased sex offline.

Now what?

We understand that the prevalence of pornography into our society and that the availability to watch it at your fingertips means many people are consuming pornography. We recognize the struggle. We know that watching pornography has become so normalized that it doesn't even feel like it's harming anyone anymore. But we also know that research indicts pornography as sex trafficking and as a driver of demand for sex trafficking. 

So what do we do? What steps can we take to act?

1. If you are struggling with a pornography addiction, seek help. Fight the New Drug, Pure Life Ministries, or x3 Watch. There is always hope. If you are struggling, reach out to a trusted friend and start the process of healing.

2. Speak up. If you know of friends who struggle with watching pornography, talk to them about it in a loving, non-judgemental way. Offer to help connect them with resources.

3. Join the fight at Fight the New Drug. There are several ways you can get involved in actively fighting pornography. 

 

 

References:

1. FightSlaveryNow.org. "Trafficking Victims Protection Act." 

2. Shared Hope International. "What is Sex Trafficking?"

3. Dines, Gail, and David Levy. "Good Cop Bad Cop: Corporate Political Strategy in
the Porn Industry." Web log post. Organizations and Social Change. N.p., 13
Nov. 2013. Web.

4. Von Maren, Jonathon. "This former porn star is exposing porn’s secrets: and it should make you very, very uncomfortable." LifeSite News. April 2015. Web.

5. Farley, M. (2007) ‘Renting an Organ for Ten Minutes:’ What Tricks Tell us about
Prostitution, Pornography, and Trafficking. 

6. Stulter, Ana. "The Connections Between Pornography and Sex Trafficking." Covenant Eyes. Sept. 2011. Web.

Prevention is: (part 2)

Prevention is: (part 2)

UnBound Seattle is committed to fighting sex trafficking in our city before it even happens. If we can help prevent exploitation from ever happening, the number of 45.8 million people enslaved worldwide will eventually decrease, with the goal of eradicating modern-day slavery. Our prevention work that we are doing is essential in the fight against human trafficking.

As I mentioned in Prevention is: (part one), prevention targets the potentially exploited, the potential exploiter, and the potential bystander. It is a multi-faceted, strategic battle plan. We looked at the many faces that prevention can take on from an organizational standpoint. But an essential component that must be addressed is how you can play a part in preventing sex trafficking in Seattle

While we could go into complex theoretical ideology, I'm going to keep it practical. Because prevention at the community level can be--and should be--accessible, doable, and practical. Let's get down to it. 

1. Prevention is speaking up. Truthfully, SO many people in our city do not know that trafficking is happening in our city. How can people do something about that they don't know exists? Our city needs community advocates--people who are willing to lead ground roots awareness, people to advocate for anti-trafficking legislation, and people who are willing to bring other people into the fight. Check out our champion team for more information.

2. Prevention is saying something when you see something. Did you know that there is technology to help you with this? If you see an activity that looks reminiscent of trafficking, you can use the Redlight Traffic app to report it. You can also call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center 24/7 hotline at 1 (888) 373-7888.
What is suspicious activity? Check our Polaris Project's comprehensive list.

3. Prevention is saying no to pornography. This is a sensitive topic, but research is directly linking the consumption of pornography to an increase in purchasing sex. Additionally, many of the pornographic "actors" are victims of trafficking experiencing force, fraud, or coercion which, by definition constitutes trafficking. Watching porn is not a "personal" issue--it is an issue that harms many others. If you are struggling with pornography, there is help and hope to stop feeding into the exploitation of others. Check out Fight the New Drug or other great organizations providing resources to break free from porn addiction.

4. Prevention is giving of your time. At UnBound, our teams of volunteers fuel or work and our prevention efforts. We want to utilize your skills and your time to help you do truly impactful and rewarding work to fight trafficking in our city. Consider joining one of our Catalyst teams.

5. Prevention is investing your resources. There are incredible non-profit organizations, including UnBound, in our city and in other cities that are doing amazing anti-trafficking work. And most of them hinge on contributors like you. One of the most impactful ways you can get involved in prevention work at UnBound and the restoration work of the Hope House is by giving to UnBound financially. Your funds go directly to services for prevention programs and for the women of the Hope House. Will you consider giving of your resources to bring life and freedom to people in bondage? You can give to UnBound here.

Prevention starts with each one of us and our resolve to do what it takes to fight trafficking in our city and in our world. Will you join us by investing your heart, your mind, your time, and your resources to help us see trafficking eradicated? 

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” - Mother Theresa

 

Prevention is: (part 1)

Prevention is: (part 1)

Prevention is:

- Building relationships
- Identifying individuals' needs
- Helping fill those needs or referring to someone who can
- An empathic, trustworthy, non-judgemental presence
- Equipping an individual with skills, resources, and tools
- Empowering an individual to grow their unique individual strengths
- Helping an individual navigate their weaknesses
- Education
- Application
- Listening
- Commitment to an individual's well being
- Accountability and intervention for sex buyers
- Restoration for traffickers
- A culture shift

At UnBound Seattle, we are committed to helping prevent sex trafficking. Each item on the list above is a form of prevention. Prevention targets the potentially exploited, the potential exploiter, and the potential bystander. It is a multi-faceted, strategic battle plan. But when it boils down to it, much of prevention is relationship. As we in the anti-trafficking world like to say: "relationship is the intervention." 

UnBound has been given the privilege of providing prevention programs with a sacred population: youth in juvenile detention centers. According to the Children's Bureau, there is a correlation that children in systems like foster care and juvenile corrections are at higher risk for experiencing exploitation in the form of human trafficking.1

As a nationally recognized, board-certified music therapist, I am providing weekly UnBound Music Therapy groups at local juvenile detention centers. As a music therapist, my job is to assess, plan treatment, implement, and evaluate. Music therapy sessions will be centered around the goal of equipping youth with tools and skills to prevent exploitation in their own lives and the lives of their peers

What an honor it is to be invited into hallowed ground--to have access to the spaces behind locked doors, into some of the most terrifying and vulnerable moments of a child's life. I am humbled to be in the position of helping these youth recognize their own strengths, discover their true value, and provide them with resources and tools. 

I look forward to sharing with you the data that I will be keeping. My belief is that, given the diversity of prevention mechanisms listed above, our results will be positive. My prayer is that, through my work guided by the Holy Spirit, the trajectory of lives will be changed.

Thanks for joining us on our journey as UnBound.

 

 

1. Children's Bureau. Child Welfare and Human Trafficking. https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/trafficking.pdf

The Fear of Joining the Fight

The Fear of Joining the Fight

You see the recent estimate that 45.8 million people are in slavery worldwide (Global Slavery Index, 2016). You feel the emotional impact. You imagine the extent of the suffering. You try to picture the individual lives that make up the 45.8 million. But the enormity of the problem brings a paralysis. Instead of moving, you sit. Instead of empathy leading to action, you sympathize and move on.

I get it. The problem of human trafficking is huge. I, too, am often paralyzed by the sheer vastness of the problem. “Who am I? I’m just one person. What am I really going to do about it?” These thoughts are my mind’s familiar friends and, some days, I don’t know which direction to move, let alone if I’m even able to move. Many days, I want to jump out instead of jump in. I understand that the fear of joining the fight is real.

Will our individual, seemingly diminutive efforts make an impact large enough to outweigh the cost we pay for joining the fight? Will our effort, our tears, and our sweat be worth it in the end? Or are we fighting a giant too big to destroy?

"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." - Mother Theresa

You are absolutely accurate that you cannot end the problem, in and of yourself. You alone cannot feed one hundred people. But you do have the ability to (metaphorically) feed one person. And when you feed one and join them in bringing about their restoration, they can feed one. And their one can feed one. And eventually our individual efforts, plus our invitation to the people around us to join the fight, will have a ripple effect. Your efforts do not exist in a bubble; you individual efforts are part of a greater story.

You may think that you don’t have the skills, or education, or knowledge to do something about it. But as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Everybody can be great ... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” You are equipped. You are already enough.  

Mother Theresa, in her abundant wisdom, exhorts us, “Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.” The fight doesn’t need your superhero powers to save the day. What it needs is your willingness to love in the small ways and to love consistently.

Will you be the one who says “no” to apathy and says “yes” to action? Will you be one who loves without getting tired? Will you be one who takes the small steps to see the multiplied efforts of many bring the end to human trafficking?

Click the link to find out how to join the fight.