Written by Rachael Yudt, LSW
Rachel is a therapist, specializing in working with survivors of human trafficking. Rachael is, before all, a friend. We worked alongside each other at Dawn’s Place. Rachael has a passion for the women she serves, helping them to understand trauma. She is always moved by the bravery and the courage of these women and is so grateful that they allow her to walk their path with them. Rachel is the owner and therapist at Anna’s Hope and she is the founder of the Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition of Montgomery County.
The United Nations commemorated World Day Against Human Trafficking on July 30, but the preparation for this event persisted throughout July. So, today, I am asking you to ponder why exactly it is that Rachael keeps interjecting blurbs on human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
I am wanting you to know that they are people way beyond what they’ve experienced. They are our mothers, our daughters, our aunts, our sisters, our cousins, our friends. She could be the teenager in getting hot chocolate at Starbucks in front of you. She could be your neighbor’s daughter. She could be a kid in your classroom. She could be your child’s friend.
I’ve met many women and girls throughout my professional journey. With each on, I have laughed, I have cried, I have yelled, I have listened, I have hugged, I have breathed. The best days are the days when my heart is full, my mind is quiet, and I smile.
Some days, though, my heart is heavy and I have to remember to breathe. Their journeys are traumatizing–living out other people’s fantasies, being sold as property, and remembering story lines to make others feel special. They convince themselves “this is what I’m good at; this is what I was born to do.”
Remember that the girls you see on the street, in the club, and on your computer screens are human beings. They have feelings, they have thoughts, they have families, and they have dreams. They also have rape, they have beatings, they have jail time. They have numbness, they have addictions, and they have nightmares.
Why am I sharing this? Because if you take anything away from this soliloquy, my hope is that it causes you to pause. The next time you hear someone joke about a “prostitute,” or someone suggests that you go to a strip club, or you are tempted to watch sexually explicit videos on the internet, I hope that you pause and ask yourself if you want to be a part of this woman’s nightmare. I hope that you question people and speak out for those who are being beaten and raped into silence–for those who don’t feel respected enough to speak for themselves.
Lastly, like all other awareness months, I am asking you to recognize that this happens every day of the year. Not just this particular day. Not just this month. Not just during the Super Bowl. Every day.
Please raise your awareness and be considerate and respectful every day of your life, because you do not know where other people’s paths have taken them.