• Jaimee Johnson

Stop saying you SAVED them

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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