Here we are again, another January has come and gone. It is likely that some survivors and advocates have had more speaking engagements this month than they will all year. We have shocked people, educated communities and engaged in conversations that are tough for most to have.
Can I be real with you for a minute though? While there is a HUGE blessing to Human Trafficking Awareness Month because Awareness means that more people are exposed to the truth of what is happening locally and worldwide, HTAM just makes me tired.
Here is why:
I have to explain complex trauma recovery and defend the budget it takes to serve those with it in what feels like less than 5-minutes.
Everyone wants a quick fix. They hear about how slavery still exists and think, "Well, just go and get them. Give them a bed, get them a job and they will be alright."
But the reality is that those who are on their journey from victim to survivor are in need of far more than just a bed and a job.
Gary Haugen, the founder of IJM said, "The victims of injustice in our world do not need our spasms of passion; they need our long obedience in the same direction - our legs and lungs of endurance; and we need sturdy stores of joy."
They need more than a bandaid.
They need to learn coping skills. They have to face their addictions head-on, and the reasons that they have had those addictions for so long. They have boundary issues, trust issues, abandonment issues. They feel shame and are riddled with guilt.
They have night terrors, moments of utter panic. They have complex mental health diagnosis that stunt their progress and growth. They have medical complexities that rear their ugly heads at the most inopportune times.
They fear responsibility. They fear they will mess things up again. They push, they test, they don't believe us for a long time.
A bed is needed. A job and security is needed. But more than that, care and a deep work in their whole person is needed.
Time and space - this is what we give each woman that comes into the program and home of Amirah. Time and space to address each complex trauma she has endured in her whole being - her physical, mental, social, vocation, spiritual and emotional recovery.
We don't hold back. We want to address it all, so that when she leaves and graduates from her program, she will be able to restore her whole life, not just where she sleeps and works.
The blessing about HTAM is that people now know.
The curse is that few will get involved and even fewer will support. The problem is too big, the work takes too long. The investment is too much.
I live by Wilberforce's saying, "You can choose to look the other way, but you can never say again you did not know."
Each day I see the faces of the women who are walking from victim to survivor. She is worth your time, your investment each month, she is worth our support as a community.
Don't look the other way; you now know. Just because January is over doesn't mean she goes away.