The two young women stood on the stage. Each sister shared her story about sexual violence: one their father preyed on, and the other a victim of an older relative. Their candid, courageous testimony gave glory to God as they talked about forgiveness and healing and their desire to help women and girls victimized by the sex trafficking industry.
The sisters spoke at an anti-trafficking event in Casper, Wyoming, earlier this month. Casper’s population is less than 60,000. A small town on the Great Plains of America, not known for giant athletic stadiums, major music concerts, or huge business conventions, yet a few recent headlines highlight the fact that human trafficking is, sadly, alive and well within the town’s parameters.
Vision Beyond Borders, a Christian organization that serves trafficked women and children overseas, hosted the event, bringing in speakers from Rescue America, a Christian-based NGO that helps women in the United States, and the Her Campaign, a Christian group based in Montana that shelters rescued trafficking survivors.
Staff from Rescue America talked about expanding from their Houston-based home to Denver, Colorado, where sex trafficking cases are coming to light more often. Casper lies 300 miles north of Denver along Interstate 25, a route for traffickers. The speakers laid a foundation for Christians of this small Wyoming town to step from their comfort zones to help trafficked women and girls in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and surrounding states.
As staff from Rescue America cast a vision, many of us heard the term “pregnancy centers.”
The organization seeks to partner with those of us working in such centers; we can be an asset for helping women and teens escape trafficking. We are often on the front line when a trafficked woman becomes pregnant or seeks medical attention for an STD.
Learning about Rescue America and the Her Campaign added to my toolbox of resources for my job at True Care Women’s Resource Center.
Our center is based in Casper, where we don’t often hear about sex trafficking or know that it exists in our community or small state. But that myth has been dispelled in recent years. Local law enforcement, the FBI, and other agencies in and around Wyoming have busted sex trafficking rings in recent years, including operations using children.
Be vigilant and offer hope
Human trafficking knows no boundaries: no age, no race, no income level, no gender. As people working on the front lines of unplanned pregnancies, we must be prepared when a sex-trafficked woman or girl seeks our services.
Wherever we live, wherever we serve, we must not be like the ostrich with its head in the sand – this blight called human trafficking exists everywhere, whether it’s sex trafficking or labor trafficking.
Studies show health care providers see nearly 50 percent of sex-trafficked women; however, many say and do nothing. The American Hospital Association, though, has brought this issue to light with education and resources to help health care workers combat the blight of trafficking.
There was a follow-up Zoom call on last week from the host church and the speakers from Rescue America and the Her Campaign. They reported that several people stepped forward to get involved to help rescue women from trafficking and to help at a phone bank that will be set up at a Casper church, and a church stepped forward to host that hotline call center.
I am proud of my community, especially the Christians that have decided to shine more light into the darkness of sex trafficking.
Another Zoom call is planned for the autumn to see how things are going. True Care plans to be there for any woman brought out of trafficking who needs our services.
As pregnancy resource centers, let us not turn a blind eye to the women who come through our doors. Be vigilant for ‘red flags’ and offer help, hope, and healing.
Tweet This: As pregnancy resource centers, let's not turn a blind eye to women who come through our doors. Be vigilant for human trafficking red flags.
April is designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Women and girls in human trafficking are sexually assaulted multiple times a day, every day of the week. Let us be that hand of love, that hand of compassion, that hand of hope they need when they come through our doors.
Whether we offer the Human Trafficking Hotline provided by Polaris (888-3737888), the Rescue Hotline provided by Rescue America (713-322-8000), a business card from an anti-trafficking organization, or chapstick with a rescue phone number embedded in the barcode, we can be a beacon of light and hope for their rescue and restoration.
Anti-trafficking Organizations and Tools for Pregnancy Resource Centers:
Rescue America: https://rescueamerica.ngo/
Shared Hope International: https://sharedhope.org
Her Campaign: https://hercampaign.org/
Vision Beyond Borders: https://visionbeyondborders.org/
Polaris Project: https://polarisproject.org/
The Samaritan Women: https://thesamaritanwomen.org/christian-abolitionists/
Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking: https://faastinternational.org/home
U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Blue Campaign: https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign
Engage Together: https://engagetogether.com/
Editor's note: Heartbeat International has multiple resources for affiliates.