• Jaimee Johnson

Why awareness is key...

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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