Sex trafficking in the USA
IN THE MOVIES.
Several years ago, a series of movies appeared called Taken, starring Liam Neeson, who was ex-CIA. When his daughter was kidnapped by sex traffickers, Liam told the bad guys that he was coming after them with a special set of skills that he would use to hurt them. They laughed at him, but not for long…
The wrenching part of the first movie was when Neeson found his daughter drugged and trapped in a house of prostitution.
IN WICHITA, KANSAS.
I never dreamed such a thing could happen in conservative mid-America where people say hello and stop to talk with you on the street and go to church on Sunday.
I was shocked when a friend of mine encountered a girl of age about 21 who had been trapped in a sex trafficking ring in Wichita for several months. The girl told how she escaped by climbing out of a window and running across a field. The details were vivid and compelling according to my friend.
IN KATY, TEXAS, A SUBURB OF HOUSTON.
I lived and worked near Katy for eight years. Partly because of this, a story in the Houston Chronicle in January 2020 disturbed me. The following are selected quotes from the article, rearranged slightly, which can be read in full by clicking HERE. Warning, this is a heart-breaking story.
At 17, Litvak says she was a “wholesome person,” proudly wearing a purity ring her father gave her. But she started dating an older guy, a senior, who she says gave her drugs one night and sexually assaulted her.
“In a matter of months, not even one year, I went from saving myself for marriage in a very safe relationship with someone … to have that taken from me all in one night,” Litvak said.
“During this free falling season of my life, I was trying to grab onto anything,” she said. “My moral compass, I would say, was shot.”
Litvak says she quickly developed a new reputation at school, which attracted a new crowd — new friends with easier access to drugs and alcohol. They connected her to people on the outside as well — former students who were working as traffickers.
“They knew exactly what to say to me and what I was looking for and my vulnerabilities,” Litvak said. “They said if you’re really serious about wanting a better life and to get money and independence … we need to introduce you to the higher-up people.”
So one of the pimps gave her friends at school an old iPhone for her.
“I thought it was someone showing interest in me as a boyfriend,” Litvak said.
The pimp, meanwhile, was pretending he had romantic interests.
“I was like, ‘This is going to be my boyfriend,’” Litvak said. “He will give me a successful future, why do I need school?”
“Days after I turned 18, I was gone,” she said.
Though she had never met him face to face, she said, “I’m thinking I’m going to be a girlfriend to this person … this person was saying he loves me, I’m saying I love him back.”
Litvak walked out of her house, down the street to the car where he was waiting. But when she got in, there was another man in the car, as well, “very intimidating, seemed very rough around the edges.” As soon as she got in the car, they asked for her ID, birth certificate and social security card.
“I’m in the car and at that moment, I knew I had lost control,” she said. “The time they invested was all aimed at getting me in that car.”
She found out later the man she thought she loved was paid a finder’s fee of $500.
The sex traffickers would control her life for several months, moving her from Katy to Houston and across the country before she could get free.
Litvak, who with her mother Kelly now runs a nonprofit, ChildProof America, aimed at helping people like herself, wants her story to be a wake-up call: Sex trafficking isn’t just a problem in big cities like Houston, but in suburbs across the nation.
A University of Texas at Austin study found there were almost 79,000 youth victims of sex trafficking in the state.
The issue has become an increasing concern for Texas Republicans, who last year passed legislation giving authorities more tools to go after online sex traffickers.
Another effort is to expand training developed by the Texas Department of Public Safety — which teaches state troopers how to spot trafficking victims.
In November, the Litvaks were introduced to Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser who has led his administration’s anti-trafficking efforts.
Ivanka Trump said, “The scourge of human trafficking is affecting people in our own neighborhoods and throughout the United States.
Courtney herself says, “I need to do something with what has happened to me. That is what drives me… Not just learn how to survive, but to learn how to live again.”
A faith NGO called Life Outreach International helps to free young girls trapped in sex trafficking houses in Thailand. And some of the girls are very young. It’s a worthwhile cause that I have supported for many years. The name of the project is Rescue Life.
This story moved me. A young vulnerable person suffered such horrible abuse – mental, physical, and spiritual.
Some of Courtney Litvak’s statements rang a bell within me:
• “During this free-falling season of my life, I was trying to grab onto anything.”
• “My moral compass, I would say, was shot.”
• “This is going to be my boyfriend. He will give me a successful future, why do I need school?”
• “I’m thinking I’m going to be a girlfriend to this person … this person was saying he loves me, I’m saying I love him back.”
• “I’m in the car and at that moment, I knew I had lost control”
• “Not just learn how to survive, but to learn how to live again.”
This is a person in free-fall trying to grab hold of anything – morals, money, independence, respect, love, a future. But when she got in the car she lost control of everything. Her insides must have been screaming for help.
I can’t really relate to her situation, but I know someone who can. Jesus in his three years of ministry on earth reached out to people like Courtney, and when they opened up to his love, things changed for the better. Jesus said:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
I have encountered many hurting people who decided to get a second opinion, so they went to Jesus. And they found rest and love and a reason to live again.
A wise young person can be proactive and decide to follow Jesus – kind of like preventive medicine — before risking a loss of control to dangerous enticements.
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