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I have been getting tagged in and asked a lot about the whole backpage shut down. It took me a couple days to understand my own thoughts on it and finally feel comfortable verbalizing it so here it goes...

If you are a part of the anti trafficking, anti exploitation , ending the demand , survivor community etc... in any shape way or form you have to understand you are a pioneer in a revolution. This is newly spotlighted and surfaced issue which means that the laws, tactics ..., understanding , awareness and anything else that comes along with it are bound to change many many times.

Backpage is gone. Advertising exploitation in the capacity that was once through sites like backpage is no longer going to be the same.

The FEDS got it ... they are not gonna let any site get to that level again so what does that really mean for the game and for this whole life period?

To me it’s the same as the transition from the streets to The net. Which didn’t happen THAT long ago. This transition was bound to happen. The problem of trafficking still existed before the internet came along to make it easier ... granted it has helped as a tool for location it has also helped to make the trafficking issue bigger and more accessible.

My point in this is that there is no point in us sitting here going back and forth about which is better .. to have backpage or not ... that is null and void ... to me the more important thing to do is to transition and understand this will be a turning point and we need to try to get two steps ahead instead of staying focused on what has already happened.

Now knowing the things we know ... when maybe we couldn’t recognize victims back when the blades were at their all time high ... now knowing the resources we have in place for victims , now knowing this isn’t an underground crime any longer but is actually being put in the spotlight ... how will we use this to our benefit?

I went back and forth a lot with this and understood both sides but at the end of the day I believe these sites were rightfully seized in a time the movement was ready for them to be. Now we just have to adjust like we have always had to and use our other tools and lived experience to continue to push forward and share our knowledge in other areas.

Backpage and the internet was just ONE WAY ... ONE TOOL.... and I think it says a lot about the movement in how comfortable we got with relying on things of this sort. Maybe this was timely for a wake up call. Maybe we have been getting lazy and dependent on things that we shouldn’t have and need to work in other areas and move other directions to really combat this issue from the roots.

This is a DISTRACTION to segregate and dismantle the movement against exploitation and if we aren't careful and smart it will work perfectly in its favor.

While we sit and argue back and forth about FOSTA/SESTA and backpage While we sit and have survivors trying to demolish other survivors , while organizations try to slander survivor leaders , and while organizations compete about numbers and who’s “rescued” more people than who ... or while survivor leaders continue to not feel a community they can confide in.

Trafficking is evolving. Pimps aren’t sitting on social media arguing back and forth about things like ...this ... pimps are watching us tear our own movement down while finding new avenues to exploit their victims.

One thing I know is that if we can’t roll with change we shouldn’t be in this movement because it won’t be the last time drastic change occurs just like it wasn’t the first. We can’t sit here and say we are focused on bringing justice to the victims and really focused on eradicating this issue if we are sitting here fighting AGAINST one another.

Isn’t this obstacle big enough? When are we going to stop getting in our own way?

And to my survivor community as well as those who identify as choosing sex work ... remember what we do best. We ADJUST and ADAPT. That skill is crucial to keep prevalent if you plan to be in this for the long haul. If nothing else I have found that both groups agree on ONE THING. Trafficking is wrong. So why don’t we start trying to find our commonalities and use our strengths to really make change instead of using our strengths to continue division.

I say this with love ❤️

Can we get back to the real goal now please?

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If you aren't familiar, January was declared National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Now this is a mixed pot of emotions for those who are survivors or still being exploited. I can only speak for myself, but to me, the topic can get exhausting. It can be exhausting to constantly re-live your experiences, not to mention constantly watching people be shocked at the fact that YOUR life experiences are beyond

their comprehension or anything they can fathom. It can be exhausting to continually hear "trafficking 101" type of presentations where you sit watching the clock as you listen to "red flags" and "signs of grooming: for the 101 thousandth time.

Personally I know a lot of survivors and survivor leaders who steer clear of participating in events or discussions during this month. I totally can get where they are coming from, but for myself, I take a completely different approach.

I am a firm believer that awareness is key. No matter how much I KNOW about trafficking, no matter how much my fellow survivor leaders know about trafficking, we have to remember, there are MILLIONS of people who know NOTHING. MILLIONS of people who are completely oblivious to the fact the issue even exists let alone can exist in their communities.

So, if we get "tired" of raising awareness because we are tired of people talking about it and not taking action, guess what.. we leave those MILLIONS of people oblivious. We leave them unaccounted for and we leave them out of the solution. Who are we to choose when enough awareness is enough? Who are we to get to stop talking about it and assume everyone should just know and be taking action already.

I wont do it. I wont ever get exhausted of telling people the "Trafficking 101" details.

In my experience, I have walked into a room of people who were simply filling up space to get credit for attending a training. Simply there to get a sheet of paper signed saying they attended with NO INTENTION of learning anything let alone becoming empathetic to a social justice issue. Those same people. I watched sit up straight in their seats, all eyes focused zoomed in on me, and becoming so quite that you could hear a pin drop in the room when I said the words "Im a survivor of human trafficking". Who am I to take that experience or opportunity for growth and learning from those people? I'm not. So I won't.

God assigned me a task. A task to use my voice that was silenced for a very long time, to SCREAM out my story. To SCREAM out my experiences. to SCREAM out my TRUTH. I made a promise to God, that I would not waste this opportunity if He blessed me with it. I promised Him if He just saved me and let me have a second chance at life, I would not give up until I made a change. And I will be obedient to that promise. Not only for myself but for those who feel like I once felt, Voiceless. Not only for them, but for those who have never had to be exposed to this issue but once they are want to make a change. Not only for them but for my children and all of their friends and the generation growing up with them, to have a chance at not having to go through this atrocity. Not only for them but for my community. Not only for them but for every single person who deserves to be free from all dynamics of this issue, the victim-the buyer- and the traffickers. Because we are ALL trapped. Trapped in our environment and lack of choices.

Better yet, lack of awareness of choices.

So, if it is an annoyance to constantly see awareness being raised on this topic. I cant say I am sorry... But I can understand. But I cant say I wont continue. Because I will. Every year, In January. And every single month after that. Because I am not free until EVERYONE is free.

"I am only one, But I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something.I cannot to everything, but i still can do something; and because I cannont do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." - Edward Everett Hale

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Have you ever read an article that is titled something along the lines of "Human trafficking victims RESCUED" or "Sex slaves saved by local sting operation."?

Well I read them or similar all the time and it IRKS MY NERVES!

Lets discuss this okay. First of all, there is no SAVING that happens here. There may be an operation put in place that enables some people to have an outlet to express their need for resources and help in the right direction BUT in no way, shape or form is this rescuing someone.

Most of the people who are caught up in these type of operations are connected with resources if they are lucky and then left on their own to hopefully know the contacts they need to make to get the resources available to them. ALL THESE OPERATIONS DO is get the exploited out of their hotel or away from their trafficker for a night or two. You see the problem is, getting the exploited out of the hotel or brothel, or off the street is a SMALL step into the start of their healing journey. This is why understanding the complex trauma and needs of those exploited is SO important before engaging or trying to "save" them. (Lets pause right there for a minute , if you ever want to successfully work with any exploited or trafficked person, get the nonsense out of your mind that you can "save" them. You are not a super hero, you are not superior and you are not God, the simple fact that anyone approaches another human with this type of mentality, in my opinion, is degrading and disrespectful).

You see, there is a deeper issue than just understanding the needs of the exploited. Its not just about the fact they need shelter, money, food, clothing, therapy, transportation, identification, etc. No, its MUCH deeper than that and AGAIN that is where survivors voices are so important and vital. We cant know what survivors need to maintain life outside of their exploitation if we don't listen to them. We don't get to ASSUME what they need or should want. 

When we are unaware and uneducated on the complicated trauma that comes along with being trafficked and exploited, we miss important factors of healing for many. Its easy to assume or push what works for US as individuals on someone, not taking into consideration they are a completely different person than us with a completely different experience in life. 

I struggle with trying to tell other women or girls that the life in the sex industry is not the most joyful. I struggle because as much as I believe in my own recovery and my own life and experience, its also very hard most times. Life is life, lets face it. Some of the people being exploited live luxurious. Nice cars, expensive material items, fancy food, and they feel loved by their pimps because for a lot of us, the abuse that may come along with being pimped or in the life, is not really anything we can't handle considering how we grew up or what we were already conditioned too. So how do you convince or preach to someone about leaving a lavish lifestyle they feel content with to come out into the secular world and struggle and fight every day just to survive. Its a hard reality to deal with, BUT come full circle what I remind myself of is the freedom. Not the freedom in buying what I want at whatever price, or the freedom to break the rules or live against the grain... I mean the freedom to live life how I choose, the freedom to love myself, the freedom to pick who I want to give myself too and who deserves my love , the freedom to eat, sleep, talk, raise my kids and dress however I choose ... Freedom in being who I want to be instead of satisfying a pimp or trick. THAT'S what I focus on when I am trying to remind a young woman or girl why I think she deserves better than the life.

But never am I thinking I'm saving her.

The BEST help you can offer is AUTHENTICITY. Being who you are and treating the exploited like they are human. Respect them, listen to them, be real with them. The thing about being in the streets, is that you can call BULLSHIT from a thousand miles away. And guess what, as soon as one of these women or girls thinks you are trying to manipulate her, her guard goes up and she will manipulate you right back.

So please, don't think you are saving any one. Most of the exploited you come across have been through more hell and survived than most can even imagine. So don't pity them, don't mock them, don't treat them like a bird with a broken wing. Honor them, respect them, and be YOU! That will get you much closer to "rescuing" someone than any other effort you may put in.

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