Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Stories that We Cannot Tell ~ by Shannon Forsythe Editor Mendy Faherty


(The following blog is written about the recent news stories of survivors not being truthful about their stories. However, there are survivors who have received the proper treatment and are amazing advocates for this cause! We will always stand and celebrate them!)

One of the most difficult things when having a non-profit organization that works with victims of sex trafficking is that people want to hear the first hand stories of these survivors. Yet this cause is fairly new, and we have found that these girls are not ready to tell their stories. When a victim is given the proper care to deal with their trauma, PTSD, substance abuse, dissociative disorder and grief etc. it can sometimes takes years to overcome. These girls are insecure, fearful and learned how to stay in survival mode for a long time. Then when they are rescued out of this horrible situation we need to remember that they still are in survival mode. Constantly assessing how to survive in this new world they have just found themselves in.

Because of this when they tell their story they often watch us to see if they are telling us what we want to hear, or they go for shock value to see our response.  It is important that we love them despite their story so they don’t feel the need to over exaggerate to find acceptance. These young ladies are like little girls who want to be cherished, accepted and loved. They need to know they matter regardless of where they are on their journey.

We have one girl who we rescued four days into being trafficked. She was still in the grooming phase so she was spared some of the horrors other girls go through. Does that mean we dismiss what she has experienced? Of course not! she still had to face the fear of not coming home and the realization of what she was going to have to do because she owed the trafficker money?

In the last few months’ we have seen and heard through media outlets survivors who have sensationalized their story thus damaging their own cause. Why does that happen?  I believe there is a pressure to put a face to the campaign.  That’s not the survivor’s fault.

Organizations want to share their stories and share their successes. Especially if they want continued financial support.  It can be a catch 22 because people will give money when they hear a dramatic story. This can be hard because these organizations work hard and pour their own time and resources to help these victims and yet they need money to continue.  So, what begins to happen is the temptation for the survivor to embellish their story because that is what the audience wants to hear. There is a satisfaction for the survivor who receives praise and approval once they have shared their story. Yet, We then are giving them they’re worth based on the story they tell us. If we are not careful as a community then we will find stories coming out that may be embellished and that will only harm what we are trying to do. 

Is there a time where survivors should speak out? Yes! Absolutely their voices should be heard but only when their own hearts are mended and restored,  when they can stand on the truth of who they are today, when their past doesn’t haunt them and when the hurt doesn’t hurt as much. When you meet a survivor they are amazing and remarkable. They have ideas and vision that will change how we work with victims. They are ready to pour heart and soul to help others who have gone through what they have. They are strong and determined and think outside the box! 

So as an organization we strive to first foster complete restoration with our girls. It is understandable that most people desire to see their faces, hear of their tragic circumstances, and learn of their first hand account of redemption but that is not our focus. Our work is to make sure they are strong enough to go out and become the person they were meant to be. Our desire is to equip them, to be able to face their past with honesty and to embrace their future with anticipation and courage. 

If you would like to join us in the task and fighting for a cause that not only rescues, but also strengthens and rebuilds the lives of hurting women, the best way to help is to through financial support and prayer! 

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