We are approaching World Day Against Human Trafficking at the end of this week. July 30th marks a day when all over the world, more people will be made aware of this atrocity. This post titled Betrayal that I read recently on Red Tent Living, took this to new depths for me. I know that evil in the world is increasing and being uncovered. We as Christians are not perfect, but being perfected by the power of the Holy Spirit. But it seems that we are seeing a wider chasm between those who truly follow Christ and intentionally live that out daily and those who claim the title, but revel in the world’s spiraling downfall of sin.
Is there a more brutal betrayal?
On a residential street lined with leafless trees, I had just reached my car, feeling relaxed from a massage, when my phone rang. My husband was coming home. He worked so much my heart leapt. Maybe we’d get take-out and watch a movie as we snuggled up. Yanked from my reverie, I heard, “I’ve been accused of sexual harassment.” Suddenly, the overtime, the snazzy outfits, and the STD he’d explained away took on new meaning. I collected my wits. This wasn’t a phone conversation.
In a panic, I called my counselor and left a message. I can never repay her for calling me back that night and grounding me as the earth quaked beneath me. I’m not sure how I drove home safely.
In the privacy of our home, I learned that the harassment my husband was dismissed for was only the tip of the iceberg. There are no words for the pain of discovering that my beloved—the one man I had begun to trust, who knew my story of being trafficked as a child—was purchasing trafficked women. How could my beloved…the charming, respected, Christian leader…be a “john”? I well knew that Christians purchase trafficked women, but I’d married a good man, hadn’t I?
I reeled from the data of his unchecked sexual addiction. It was so like my childhood abuse, and he…suddenly so like my perpetrators. The level of duplicity, lies, deception, heinous sexuality, cruelty, and remorselessness… Perhaps the most difficult of all his betrayals—he had used my story to get in with women and to fan the flames of his twisted desires.
I tried to gather the pieces of the man I so desperately wanted him to be and put them back together, but they no longer fit. I couldn’t unsee the other man. Who would believe me? I couldn’t. And yet, I knew this other man; my abusive childhood had habituated me to betrayal. I used to question how I could have married a good man. Heartbreakingly, I now knew that he fit into my story like a missing puzzle piece.
Divorce wasn’t supposed to be my story.
We were supposed to be holding hands in old age. But it became clear he was committed to not engaging his brokenness, and I began to believe I was worth more.
As a divorcèe, I have learned that even in this modern era I am an outsider. A friend once told me, “The stigma of divorce is still very real.” I didn’t want to believe that but, sadly, it’s true. A thousand experiences conveyed this; I’ll share two.
Though few knew the details of my husband’s betrayals, in a coupled world there was immense societal pressure to repair or tolerate his addiction. It was bewildering and excruciating how seldom any responsibility was placed with him. This painted for me our cultural view of women. It didn’t matter what the betrayal, how profound it was, or how repentant or unrepentant my husband—it was my fault and mine to repair.
My childhood trauma is easy to blame, but his addiction pre-dated our relationship. And even if it hadn’t, what we don’t say is that there are things that no one should ask of his or her spouse. I’m not sure how it became woven into our cultural belief that men can’t help themselves, but they have as much agency as women, and it has been used to wield great harm. Dear reader, my husband chose to break our covenantal vows. He chose how he broke them. And he chose not to seek healing.
If I may be so bold, I know some of you may have a similar story. Your spouse also has agency and you deserve to be honored. However it comes about—whether through your spouse’s repentance or your leaving—you deserve more.
As I mourned, I came to see my trauma as a death. The death of my marriage. The death of my beloved in my life. The death of our dreams for the future. The death of my hope of having children in my arms. It was the rending apart of lives intertwined for a decade and a half. But I began to realize that in our culture we have no traditions of mourning divorce. There are no flowers or cards. No meals brought by friends. No mourning clothes. No bereavement leave. No funeral. No graveside service. No marker upon which to weep. I was wholly alone. It was me and my four-footed friend trying to wake for another day, sort out how to make ends meet, and fight for the hope of a brighter future…a future too far off to see.
I am in a better place now, but it’s still a battle. Every weekend, vacation, holiday, and child’s laugh, I’m reminded how alone I am and the dreams that once were.The author prefers to remain anonymous.
I applaud this woman for choosing to move forward in spite of horrific situations. To survive being trafficked is horrendous enough without living through this on top of it. I pray her story will encourage many others in their journey.
You can do your part in the fight against trafficking.
If you have been a part of this–whether by choice or coercion– know that it is never too late to turn around. Jesus already forgave you and by acknowledging that, he can make a way out where there seems to be no way.
If you would like to help, but you aren’t sure how, you can become educated through reading or participating in local, national, or international organizations who are in the fight. Here are some I support and learn from:
- A21 https://www.a21.org/– based in Australia this international group fights with awareness, intervention, and aftercare
- Not for Sale https://www.notforsalecampaign.org/ – originally based in San Francisco reaches areas that are most impoverished to create better situations to reduce trafficking where it starts
- Bridging Freedom https://www.bridgingfreedom.org/ – based near Tampa, FL is a safe house where trafficked children can heal
There are many others, but these are my current personal choices which I support from the proceeds of a couple of my books that deal with trafficking. I give half of the proceeds from those sales each year.
For this week, July 25th – July 30th, by purchasing either Dangerous Ground or A Mighty Wind, you will get to enjoy reading a novel while learning a little more about this subject AND you will be giving to an important cause at a crucial time. I will donate 100% of the proceeds to these three listed organizations. It can be a way of you giving to help those in this situation. Perhaps you would like to share a copy, give a couple to friends and family, or donate some to your local organizations!
Thank you in advance from those who are healing or still need rescue.