Look Around You

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40 days-Day 4

The article read like something you would expect in a foreign country…

“The local investigation resulted after the Police Department became aware of a connection between a Massage parlor at 1234 Main Street in their city and another located at 1234 St. Andrews Drive, the neighboring town.. Arrested was Lucy Chang, who was charged with six counts of Impersonation of a Licensed Professional and Massage of Erogenous Areas. Over $7,000 in cash and a 2014 Lexus vehicle were seized from this location.” (Names and locations have been changed to protect the privacy of the people involved)

This wasn’t in a foreign country. It was in MY town. In a strip mall I drove past nearly every day. When my friend, who is an expert in Sex Trafficking, shared the article on Facebook my jaw dropped. She shared photos of the alley way behind one of the parlors…womens’ clothing draped over railings to dry after being washed.

“This means there are trafficking victims in there,” she said. “Probably being held in one of the back rooms.”

I asked her how a person can know if a business like this is legitimate or not. She said they often change names, get new phone numbers. And the signs…like the clothes out back.

This wasn’t happening “across the railroad tracks.” It was just across the street from a nice restaurant, near the most popular gym in town…the one all the “it” people frequent.

Then my cousin texted me, just a few weeks ago. She told me how there was a bust in her neighborhood, an affluent and “safe” neighborhood in Texas, and seven children were rescued–some as young as two years old.

Let that sink in…two years old.

So, today, I’m going to share some common signs that trafficking is going on in your neck of the woods, via a TedX talk given by Kanani Titchen MD, an Adolescent Medicine fellow at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Bronx, New York. It’s not just in massage parlors and strip clubs. It’s in million-dollar homes and middle class, Bible-Belt cul-de-sacs. It’s in private schools and churches. It could, very possibly, be happening on you street to people you see and wave to every day as you walk your dog.

Here are some si you should keep your eye out for, according to Amanda Catarzi from the Selah Freedom organization and shared on the McKissock Learning blog:

  • Unusually high numbers of people coming in and out of the property, day or night. 
  • Interior locks on doors or windows. 
  • Residents who lack knowledge of the neighborhood — human trafficking victims almost never leave the home unless they’re being transported to a new location. 
  • School-aged children who are not in school and don’t appear to be homeschooling. 
  • Residents who avoid eye contact or seems overly anxious. 
  • The inexplicable appearance of costly gifts.
  • Well rehearsed or inconsistent stories.
  • Someone who appears to be a family member but is dressed very differently or has a significantly lower level of hygiene than the rest of the household.  

And I will add, because I have seen it myself: Look for tattoos. Dollar signs, punctuation, etc. The pimps brand their property, just like cattle.

Next–Please watch the video below in it’s entirety and arm yourself with information. Who knows? You might just be the person who make the call and ends a life of slavery and suffering for another human being in the name of Jesus.

Warning: It is graphic.

Tomorrow is Sunday and, in Lenten tradition, I will take a break from writing. But Monday I will be back. I’ll spend next week sharing articles with true stories in order to help you put faces and names (and emotions) to this epidemic.

And, if you haven’t already, you can read my novel, Paper Dolls: Trust Your Instincts. It’s available on Amazon. It will pull you into the lives of three young girls who find themselves grappling with this very issue. It will make you ready and willing to be part of the solution. You can order it here.


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