We are becoming more acquainted with the terms child exploitation, sex trafficking, and human trafficking. Media outlets have picked up on the opportunity these terms provide for sensationalism, and organizations all over the world are raising the awareness of society vis-à-vis the need for social justice. If we do not engage these terms at a deeper level, though, then we ultimately use these terms as a means to remain disengaged from the issue.
Earlier this year I was provided the opportunity to get past the terminology, and engage the issue by spending two weeks with survivors of sexual exploitation. Instead of discussing the issue from my comfortable home, I was suddenly face-to-face with young women who had been unjustly victimized. They were not statistics. They were human beings. They were beautiful. They were standing right in front of me. Thanks to our amazing aftercare partners, these girls had progressed to a point where they could laugh, dream, and hope again. Their resilience in the face of untold atrocity quickly reminded me that my “problems” are minor at best. Spending even one minute with these girls would have been the highlight of my year. I will never forget them. They inspire me to work harder, love more, and empathize.