MINIMIZE: WEEK 3
This week is dedicated to starting, including helping you discover your "why," setting up fundraising pages, and guiding you on how to create awareness.
Week two of the LBD.Project focuses on using our circles of influence and reach to help bring freedom to modern slaves.
This week takes a closer look at ourselves and how we can be part of bringing freedom to modern slaves by reducing demand and looking at our lifestyles.
During our last week of the project we focus on wrapping up our efforts, concluding fundraising well, and working through how we can continue being advocates for freedom moving on.
After March and through April we will celebrate this year's LBD.Project with our final fundraising count, wins, and stories from this year's challenge. We are better together!
If you've been reading the 31 Human Trafficking Facts, you know how large and overwhelming the issue of modern slavery is. One of the best parts of the LBD.Project is that it helps normal, everyday people like us do something about something as intimidating as human trafficking.
Part of this begins with us. It might be surprising, but the truth is that modern slavery exists because of the normal people who fuel it. True, oppression does exist when everyday people don't stand against injustice. But also, it is us, everyday, average people who are creating the demand for modern slaves.
We'll make an educated guess that you probably don't own a domestic servant or regularly hit the streets for sex. However, you might unknowingly be adding to demand in other ways, or are friends with others who do.
Your Slavery Footprint: Goods
What do labor trafficking victims do all day? When we think about the answer to this question, we realize that they probably do things that would bring their oppressors profit, or maybe bring ease to their owner's lives. So, if there are tens of millions of modern slaves making money for their oppressors, and we live in a globalized world with a high economy, it shouldn't be hard for us to put two and two together. Yep. You got it: the oppressors make their money off of us.
We know it is hard to consider how much you add to the demand for modern slaves, but we must be honest with ourselves. If you do anything this week, take this unique, interactive survey to help you see your slavery footprint here.
Buying Sex is Normal
Sex trafficking only exists because of the buyers--as long as there is a demand, oppressors will keep fulfilling it with bodies for their own profit.
We might consider the purchase of sex as taboo, but in reality it isn't. True, it is still frowned on for those in service or power, like politicians, ministers, or firemen, and policemen to buy sex. Even so, there is increasing evidence that these people still buy sex; they just do it in secret.
Most buyers of sex in the U.S. are people we might look at as everyday people--white, middle age, church-going males. Hiring a stripper for a bachelor party or going to a strip club on a work trip isn't considered abnormal, yet often those working in the sex industry are at high risk of being sex trafficked, if they aren't being trafficked already. A large portion of our media and music also glamorizes the sex industry, deceiving those on the outside, like the johns and other purchasers, that they are involved in harmless activities.
In addition, studies show that in the United States, porn is used by about one third of women and anywhere from 60% to 99% of men. Pornography acts like a drug, and needs continual hits to bring its users to satisfaction, usually resulting in the purchase of sex that is abusive in nature. The average age for pornography use to begin is between ages 8-12. We don't need to imagine how much of that "drug" an early addict would need by adulthood to get a fix to realize these stats are unveiling a serious problem.
What does this have to do with human trafficking?
Sex trafficking is fueled by the demand for sex for sale, and therefore the sex industry creates an enviornment where the trafficking of bodies thrives. There is a lot of gray area when it comes to sex trafficking; however, the more work anti-trafficking advocates do to unveil this issue, the more it is becoming clear that the sex industry is often a disguise for modern slavery.
Learn more about the demand for sex and its connection to sex trafficking from these resources:
Don't Buy Sex
Avoid Buying Goods Made By Slaves
Last year, ethicial fashion bloggers Sutton + Grove wrote to the LBD.Project participants about the tie between human trafficking and our clothing. We encourage you to check out their post and watch the short video there.
In addition, Sutton + Grove have a huge list of different social good companies you can start using for your basic clothing needs on their website, and are always continuing to review and find more. If you are interested in learning about buying clothing in a way that helps bring freedom to modern slaves, check out this post to start, and from there, follow the linked resources.
Even if you want to bring freedom to modern slaves, it can be too overwhelming to change your whole lifestyle all at once. We suggest starting with one commitment to implement over a designated time period. Our founder, Elisa, gives an example from her own life. >>>
"Another LBD.Project participant, Lisa and I volunteered for a couple years at Weightless Anchor, a day shelter for women through BLOC Ministries. One thing we noticed was that women would go into jail, get clean, be released, and then fall back into the exact same pattern of living (prostituting to support their heroin addiction). When we talking with one of these women, she told us that while they are in jail, no one helps them get lined up with something different for when they are released. So, once they are released, often without any notice late in the evening, or at 4am in the morning, with no one to call, nowhere particular to go, no financial resources . . . the cycle begins all over again.
There is so much wrong with this picture; it was heartbreaking.
Seeing the need, in February of 2017, BLOC decided to open Redeemed Home, a transitional living opportunity that provides holistic care for each resident, body, soul, and spirit. Now a second Redeemed Home is scheduled to open in the next few months!
Another barrier that was identified was how to keep our connection with the ladies that we had developed relationships with at the Weightless Anchor locations while they were in jail. Visits were limited to 15 minutes, 3 times a week. Oftentimes when we would go, we ran the risk of taking a visit away from a family member. More often though, we would get down to the jail and find that they had already had a visit. Those who we were able to visit were very appreciative. One woman told me, “This is the first conversation that I have had with any of you where I haven’t been high and have been thinking clearly.”
Seeing jail time as an opportunity to have conversations when our ladies were clean, sober, and undistracted, we discovered that if we became ordained, we could have pastoral visits, which gives much greater flexibility. Now two of us have gone through that process, so we can visit whenever, for as long as we want, and without interfering with visits from family and friends.
Once when I was visiting one of my ladies she said, “You don’t know how much you do for us at Weightless Anchor.” I nodded my head thinking of the physical things, things like a safe place to be warm and dry, clean clothes, food, etc. . . She said again, “No, you really don’t know how much you do for us . . . I have never been judged by anyone there.”
Ours is a fight against human trafficking and often the slave master, or “pimp,” is addiction. He is a ruthless, cruel master, stealing the lives and souls of both men and women, breaking relationships, destroying families, and driving them to do the unthinkable to satisfy his craving. He is relentless, and does not willingly give up his grip on those he has made his slaves."
GRACE (Girls Rising Above Commercial Exploitation)
"What sets me on fire: we don’t have safe houses in San Diego for victims of child trafficking yet SD is one of the top cities for CSEC (commercial sexual exploitation of children). Instead, SD has homeless/runaway youth shelters where traffickers target the most vulnerable population. So that is why we are starting GRACE - to make a difference in the lives of children under 18 at risk of child exploitation and provide a safe retreat for them to heal." -Leah Watson, founder of GRACE.
GRACE is hoping to open its doors in May of 2018. However, bringing to life the vision of a home (starting as a transitional home) for sex trafficked minors requires alignment in everything from logistics, funding, laws and volunteers (to name a few).
Just because there is an incredible need for something, and a vision to bring wholeness and restoration to a broken area in society, doesn't mean that vision will just come to pass. Vision is always only birthed though trials and a painstaking process. This vision, to bring freedom to sex trafficked minors, will only be fulfilled when brave firestarters take the first step to help bring it to life.
Donate to or join our fundraising team for GRACE here.
A LBD.Project Participant Who Maximized" Last Week
Jen Pool is rather quiet, but after having people ask her about human trafficking multiple times, she decided to just answer those questions on Facebook Live for a handful of friends this past week. To her surprise, this video she made about human trafficking (with her heart pounding the whole time) has now been shared over 2000 times! Apparently, it met a need! (It is worth watching--check it out here >>>)
What we ask you to do to maximize this project is simply look at what is in your hands, what is in your circle of influence, and use it. Kudos to Jen who bravely used what was in her hands!
Stay tuned for next week to hear more stories from our featured and partner organizations and participants!
How Can You Start Good Fires?
What steps can you take to practice starting fires that don't destroy influence, friendships, or your heart? Check out the "How To Start Good Fires" section of this post to give you some tips:
Good Anger or Bitterness?
It is easy to let our hatred of the different types of modern slavery to spill into our heart and become bitterness. This anger only hurts us, though, and doesn't help the cause. (Read more.)
During the LBD.Project, we are all are likely experiencing what is known as righteous anger, or holy discontent. It is a "this shouldn't be so and I can't not do something about this specific problem anymore." What do we do with it? Listen to our director talk about her own experiece with this here:
Maybe you realized from the above that one area you do have influence in is finishing off this checklist! This is if you want to go all in to do the LBD.Project with intentionality: