What follows is part three of "Christina's Story." It is a fictionalized account based on the stories of several trafficking victims from the Houston area. I first encountered it at the 2016 Freedom Fest & Houston Human Trafficking 5K, sponsored by Free the Captives. Each entry will consist of part of the story (in normal text) and facts about human trafficking (in italics text). The original display included artwork by several of the victims that is at times informative, inspiring, and heartwrenching. Please pray as you learn more. Thanks for reading.
Integration into the larger society is very difficult for sex trafficking survivors. Often, they do not have tools to survive on their own: no physical or financial support, no education to rely on, no life skills or psychological health. They often suffer from acute PTSD.
Minors entrapped in sex trafficking do not have many options of getting out. Many die along the way from drug overdoses, suicide or violent pimps and Johns. The grim reality is that few girls make it out alive. Christina is lucky to escape.
More often than not, trafficking survivors return to their families, where the real work of healing and reconciliation begins. Sometimes victims may go to a “safe house,” but these facilities are often short-term. Also, victims often do not feel comfortable in highly structured environment and will run away from safe homes. Thus, they often return to their communities. If it is safe, they will return home. Otherwise, they will live with another family member or close friend. It is important to note that the majority of human trafficking victims will return to their community or family.
“A Family Affair”
Oftentimes, concerned parents push for the family to be involved in the healing process of the trafficking survivor. After all, part of the reason that many girls fall victim to traffickers is that there is a great level of dysfunction at home. Free the Captives, along with other non-profit organizations, works with the entire family to stabilize the home by providing support and assistance. Free the Captives offers groceries, furniture and other tangible help. They also have a support group for parents.
Free the Captives offers many services to trafficked teens, including the support group and educational assistance. Many victims find it very difficult to open up about their trafficking experience, but in the support group, they feel safe and understood. For many of them, it is the first time, they can open up and share about their experiences, which is an important step in recovery. Also, Free the Captives works diligently to assist girls in furthering their education. From graduation fees to tutoring to college scholarships to laptops, Free the Captives does whatever it takes to see trafficking survivors walk across the stage in a cap and gown.
“A Real Job”
Finding a legitimate job is a great stepping stone out of the life on the streets. It provides sex trafficking survivors with a much-needed income, but also boosts their self-confidence and shows them that they are able to succeed in society despite what they have been through. Free the Captives works with multiple employers such as law firms and doctors’ offices to provide survivors with professional job opportunities in a caring and supportive environment. These job opportunities are the linchpin in breaking the cycle of poverty and abuse and destroying the power of traffickers in impoverished communities.