A young girl down the street feels flattered when some teenage boys notice her. When they invite her to hang with them, she has no idea what they have in mind. The first time, they befriend her so she’ll come back. But after that, she’s used and sold to their friends. Without anyone knowing, she’s being sold after school to a handful of older boys and young men. She’s only eleven. How can she escape? Who does she tell? Will anyone believe her that such a thing could happen?
In your favorite restaurant, three young people are in the back kitchen, washing dishes. Seems innocent enough. But they don’t receive pay. Instead, after twelve-hour days of cleaning, they’re carted to a crowded hotel room or one room space where they sleep on mats or shared mattresses on the flour. They may be used by their “owner” or someone he sells them to for a thirty-minute romp.
The elementary school staff where your kids attend isn’t aware that that student who sits off by herself instead of playing at recess or eating lunch, is sold by her parents in off-school hours. The teachers can’t understand why such a bright child can’t get her homework done and doesn’t participate in class. Since there aren’t any visible marks on her body and her clothes seem clean and in fair condition, there are no other signs that she’s surviving in deplorable conditions.
It sounds as if these situations are fabricated by some imaginative author, but they are real depictions of actual events. So unbelievable we can’t wrap our minds around them.
And I was clueless.
When I first learned of human trafficking, it was by accident. My husband and I were in Half Moon Bay, CA celebrating our anniversary. After lunch, we took a window-shopping walk and were intrigued by a store front that displayed “Not For Sale.” We laughed.
How could you have a store called “Not For Sale”?
The shop was actually selling products made by survivors of human trafficking. Say what? My husband and I were confused until we investigated more closely.
I wasn’t unaware of slavery. I knew it happened in other countries far away in which people’s lifestyle or debts forced them into servitude. But I didn’t really understand the facts. Or that it was a huge business here in the United States.
We purchased the book written by founder David Batstone. Then we learned the truth. The author discovered that human trafficking was happening in his own town, at one of his favorite restaurants. It took me almost two years to read the book. Not because it isn’t great, but because I was so shocked by the information (and triggered by some far lesser events of my past).
I never intended to write a novel dealing with the subject, but years later working off a random prompt, I found myself writing a book that integrated a kidnapped little girl and a mystery of a trafficking ring. When I published it, I decided that half the proceeds would go to organizations, including Not For Sale, that fight this horrific, billion-dollar industry and help rescue those in captivity. A couple of years ago, one of the characters in another one of my books also suffered through trafficking in a different way.
January is Human Trafficking Awareness month. Did you know that?
I may not be able to go rescue people, or volunteer at an organization, but as an author, I can write novels that entertain, but also make people aware of this situation. I can donate the proceeds from my books to organizations that are outfitted to intervene.
You can help too!
Maybe you do have money to give or time to volunteer. Or maybe you can get one or both of my books FREE to learn more. Or buy them so I can donate more money. And share with your friends so they can be aware or buy the books or volunteer.
Every little thing we each do adds up to something big.
So check it out. January 13-15th and 20th-21st you can get either or both of the books below FREE. Or buy them so I can donate.
It’s easy to do your part.
- Not For Sale
- Bridging Freedom – helping trafficked children (Sarasota, FL)
- Our Mother’s House – housing young mothers many of whom have been trafficked (Fort Myers, FL)
These are the organizations I support with book proceeds, Amazon Smile, and/or my time. There are many others. But everyone needs to start somewhere.