Why are you so passionate about such an awful topic?
Do you need to be talking about that, aren’t there more qualified people out there?
I don’t think that it’s as big of a deal as you’re making it.
These are just a few of the questions of comments that any proponent for the abolishment of human trafficking encounters in their advocacy journey. Every one of these phrases stems from a place of either misinformation or of a lack of awareness. It is the very fact that many people are blind to something as awful as human trafficking and sexual exploitation that sparked a fire inside of me and started me on my advocacy journey.
For many years, I didn’t acknowledge the fact that human trafficking was happening in my country or my city. In my mind, it was something that only happened in faraway countries, and while it was a truly horrible violation of human rights, I figured that there wasn’t a whole lot that I could do to help bring it to an end. When I was introduced to Dressember through a friend from Bible College, I realized there was a way that I could join the fight against human trafficking. I could use my voice and bring awareness about this injustice to those around me. My initial introduction to advocacy planted a seed of intrigue in my mind that produced a crop of fierce passion for abolition.
In 2017 I became involved with an organization in my hometown of Calgary that has become very dear to my heart. It was during my time with Next Step Ministries (read more about them here) that I was able to see not just the stark reality of sexual exploitation in my city, but also the true redemptive power of restored freedom and hope. During their time in the program the women live in houses provided by Next Step so that they can experience what “normal” life is like, and I got the amazing opportunity to live in one of the houses with those women for four months. While most of the healing and processing happens in the classroom, seeing the women open up and become more confident at home was the tangible evidence of a positive change in their lives. It was during that time that my heart was split open for people affected by sexual exploitation. Seeing the places of hurt that they came from broke my heart, but what impacted me the most was seeing the redemptive processes take effect in their lives as they continued in the program. These women who were affected by human trafficking and sexual exploitation have such resilience and are capable of turning their pain into freedom and hope. The resolve and dedication of the women that I lived with for those four months inspired me to advocate boldly against human trafficking and to speak up about the abolitionist movement.
Everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, should be able to live a life free of the worry that one day everything they know will be taken from them. They should be able to hold their heads high, to look people in the eyes, and to raise their voice about issues that matter to them. No one should have their world taken away from them. No one should be forced to work or sell their bodies for the gratification and pleasure of another. Every single person is a treasured creation, a beloved child of God, and that is how we are to treat one another. And that is why I advocate and speak up about human trafficking because we are meant to love one another as Christ loved us.
I advocate to shine a light in the darkness and to show others that we often attribute more power to the darkness than it has. The reason why atrocities such as human trafficking continue in our world is that society has yet to realize that if we were all to join together and speak up about trafficking and fight against it, we would remove the power that traffickers have. There are amazing people who are fighting this war, and if all I ever get to be is a voice in the battle cry, I’m happy with that because that means that at least I cared enough to add my voice to the chorus.
I advocate for the women that I have met and love who have been victims of sexual exploitation but can now call themselves victorious over their oppressors. It’s not always an easy path that we walk as advocates, but it’s a necessary one. So every time people tell me to stop talking or to quit while I’m ahead, I remember all of the reason why I’m an advocate, and I let those be the fuel for my fire and the push I need to keep fighting.