a reminder that this is not normal
There are days when human trafficking is just so normal to me; conversations about prostitution, rape, violence, slavery and all the rest seem to roll right by.
Men humiliating and de-humanising women that I know by name is just another day at work and its not a question of whether or not she has experienced violence, but how many times.
There are days when evil is the normal, and things that should break us don’t phase us.
I rarely stop to process what I see, because one day ends and the next one starts and it feels like what is happening here is hardly a drop in the pan compared to the global magnitude of the problem.
I spend more time figuring out how to express the complexities, the grey-areas, the choice vs force vs what-legal-system-is-the-best conversation, then actually acknowledging the things I have seen, the stories I have heard, the faces I have met.
Today at work we talked about it.
We all started to speak and the words were tumbling around me and one line struck me heavily. “This is not normal.”
The world in which I operate is not normal. “This is the stuff most people only read about, and avoid acknowledging because it is too much.”
This world of sexual exploitation, abuse, trafficking, rape, prostitution, and fear… it is something people usually avoid.
Talking about it made it real,
it opened me up to see with fresh eyes the level of injustice.
It felt a bit like a wall got pulled down from my mind’s eye and there I stood exposed,
hit with a fresh wave of confusion and hurt over what it is that we are facing.
I sat on the steps after with one of my colleagues, the rain pouring down like buckets of tears we never cry, and I looked at her and said, “Why are we doing this job?”
She made a joke that it is too much work to have to get dressed up nice every day and go work at a bank.
I find myself often saying that people should be warned about human trafficking before they get involved because it will mess with your head. It isn’t something you can really back away from. Once the knowledge is there, it shapes you. It dictates your thoughts and emotions, it affects every aspect of your being, from your faith to your sexuality to your friendships.
And yet, somewhere in the midst of the crazy and broken, you reach in deeply and find that you are still there, underneath it. You find that no social cause should be ‘who’ you are. You know that there are stories that will always haunt you and yet you know too that they can be tucked away in a safe place that is between you and God.
I don’t think about what I see. Not most days. Not on a working day. It is a bad idea. Yet at some point I do have to come to terms with it. Today, I was reminded that we can validate our working experiences, because while they may not be as traumatic as what the women we meet have gone through, they still shape us.
It isn’t weak to hurt. It isn’t wrong to be sad, or angry, or downright bone-deep tired. Weariness in my very soul doesn’t mean I don’t have faith, or hope, or love or that I do not know that God is big enough for freedom or that Jesus is the answer.
These emotions simply serve as a much need reminder that this world of sexual exploitation is not normal, nor should it ever be.
As long as I still hurt, I am still human.
I left work for an hour, I climbed in the shower and then fell onto my bed and wrote this post.
In fifteen minutes I will go back to work, but I don’t feel like it.
I guess that is how life can be. As you read this, you can pray for us.