Over 6 years ago, my wife returned from a local event with excitement in her voice. Her first words as she entered the door were, “Honey, come to the bedroom. I want to show you what I just bought!” These are words every husband longs to hear, yet he also dreads hearing as he thinks to himself, “How much did she spend this time?”
This experience was different. She began sharing about the event she attended and what she had learned. She also shared about the vendors who were at the event. One specifically stood out to her, and she stopped and talked with a woman from Sak Saum. The word means, “For Freedom.” She then pulls out of her bag a t-shirt and some leather handmade bracelets that were created by young girls and boys from Cambodia who have been rescued from sex slavery. Yes, that is correct – young boys are also sold into sexual slavery. This was my introduction and my awakening to the nonfiction reality of sex trafficking. Since that day, we have supported Sak Saum, as we invite them to come and share their heartfelt stories and sell their amazing products at our Annual Couple’s Conference each year.
Like many, I realized I was still thinking and believing that sex trafficking was a problem “over there,” not in my city, state or country. Even as a sex addiction therapist who works with couples daily who have been entrapped by porn and sex addiction, I was still thinking this way. The last two years, I have been awakened again to the reality that sex trafficking is within minutes of my “safe” suburban home. Then, I realized I was still thinking and believing that sex trafficking is only happening to adult women. Again, another lie. Sex trafficking is happening more and more to little girls under the age of 18. I am talking 7, 8, and 9-year-old girls, and in some cases, even younger. Not girls overseas but girls in my community. This is the reality. This is not fiction. You cannot make this stuff up.
As a father or four girls, I cannot imagine the horrors these girls have experienced. This is real. I have looked into the eyes and into the souls of these girls and have personally met them. This is the reason I am a local board member of a home for these underage girls who have been victimized by this industry.
Recently, I learned there are tens of thousands of girls enslaved and less than a few hundred beds for girls to be placed in once rescued. I have learned there are many different types of trafficking and countless reasons girls and boys get caught in its deadly web.
Did you know not only during college and professional sporting events here in the United States and around the world but also at political events that hundreds of girls are moved into that community to be used as sex slaves to meet the “demand”? I will say it again. This is not a problem somewhere else. This is a problem in your community. In fact, the United States is one of the biggest consumers of this industry.
Many of the men I work with believe since they only look at porn they are not hurting anyone. This is also a lie. Watching porn supports the demand for sexual slavery. (Read this post.: http://www.fightthenewdrug.org/the-internet-can-be-a-very-unsexy-place-we/.)
Many years ago in my Macro Economics class in college, I learned about the supply and demand theory. This can be applied not only in economics but also with sex trafficking. It’s all about money. Some statistics state sex trafficking or human trafficking is the third biggest industry in the world. I believe that supply will not stop. In fact, it will continue to grow until the demand for it stops. This is why we do the work we do at Transformed Hearts Counseling Center.
First, the hearts of men need to be changed. Additionally, even though this appears to only be a male problem, the number of female sex addicts is growing. The sexual depravity of men and women is getting worse. The key to this battle is the heart, moral transformation and repentance of people and turning toward the God of heaven.
Consider some of the following stats. In 2014, the Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force and Innocence Lost Task Force recovered a combined total of 88 victims of juvenile prostitution in Colorado.
Of those picked up:
- 7% began prostitution at age 17
- 18% began prostitution at age 16
- 23% began prostitution at age 14
- 24% began prostitution at age 13 or younger
A study in San Francisco of 149 youth identified as commercially sexually exploited children found that:
- 61% of the youth had been raped one or more times
- 55% were foster care youth from group homes
- 82% had previously ran away from home multiple times
- 60% had previously been arrested for solicitation
- 25% of the 149 youth were clinically depressed
- 25% had a history of suicide attempts that required hospitalization
- 52% had serious drug abuse problems
U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved on July 15, 2009.
There is hope! Recently the House of Representatives passed the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA). (Read this article: https://www.yahoo.com/news/rights4girls-jvta-marks-pivotal-step-forward-fight-against-193200783.html) I do not believe this to be the cure; however, this is a great step in the right direction.
Together, let’s start to write a new ending to this tragic story. Get involved as a volunteer or donate to your local ministry or non-profit that is making a difference in the lives of these young girls and boys.
Donate to Sarah’s Home at sarahshome.us.
Donate to Sak Saum at saksaum.com.
Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.