Trafficking. Sex trafficking. The words conjure horrible thoughts, and emotions for most people...and that is if they allow themselves to consider it at all. It is truly one of the most heinous acts perpetuated upon another. Over the last four years, I have mentored survivors of this atrocity, as they journey through our Elevate program on their way to total freedom. I say total freedom because simply being free physically, of a trafficker or abuser, does not provide the totality of freedom. Many people in this world walk around seemingly free, who are in great bondage emotionally, and spiritually.
While a person can give another physical freedom, no one can give emotional or spiritual freedom. No, those we have to obtain for ourselves. And I have the honor of getting to walk part of their journey with them, as they secure those freedoms! Can you imagine? Seriously, what I get to do is a true honor. You may think I say that because they experienced trafficking. After all, it does seem to stir an unseemly combination of interest, passion, sensationalism, and nutty voyeuristic attention. But, no, as a survivor myself it doesn't amaze me in that way. When a fellow human trusts you, allowing you into their private world, it's an honor!
Let me tell you, what an adventure it has been! There are so many things I cannot share because of loyalty, decency, and confidentiality. But, oh the amazing things that I can share! This is a group of people that really are the best of us. Logic would say after having endured nearly every imaginable abuse, countless times over, survivors of human trafficking would be cold, callous, and mean. Logic and even our culture would tell us they are unredeemable, and can never again be whole or even contributing members of society.
My friend, if you focus the lens and look just a bit deeper you may just get a glimpse of what get to see. Daily I am privileged to see the unstoppable, resilient spirit that is the very essence of these warriors. It radiates with the constant steadiness and power of the sun. Even though they so often feel broken, used and less than human, I rarely see those traits exhibited. Rather I see, kindness in the extended offer of help to another struggling to survive 'normal' life. I see wisdom spoken softly into a confusing situation. I see inspiring growth as the bravery to look within and deal with wound upon wound yields its glorious crop of health and wholeness.
Time and again I see a depth of character, great loyalty, and immense love. I witness a fierceness to stay the course when the healing journey seems far too long and arduous, and they question their path, wondering if it, no if they are worth the work of healing. Goodness, is it ever work! The business of healing, of pursuing wholeness and total freedom is very difficult work. Work many people in this world choose not to do. Yet, when one of them falters, the sight of them swooping in to encourage is a reason to celebrate!
These are inspiring people. Wins for them have not come easily or frequently, that is certain. They cannot hear enough how valuable, lovable, and truly incredible they are. These tremendous humans stir my soul. In them, I see beauty, deep, unbreakable, all-consuming beauty. I hope that soon, and very soon, they will see it too!
My one prayer is they will know the feeling of true, unadulterated freedom, soaring in the truth that they were destined for greatness, and can be everything they were designed to be!
Kathy Bryan is a speaker, trainer, mentor, survivor leader and currently serves as Program Director and speaker team member for RBI.