Well, it is official, I am adding another soapbox to my topic list.
Let me first say this, when people describe me, they often use the word caring. And lately, I am sure they don’t mean about ‘others’ and my kids. Because quite frankly, I have been quite moody and bitchy lately. So, I think what they mean when they reference my character as caring, they must be talking about my heart holding a special place for different charities, organizations, causes, and issues.
I am about to jump onto a new soapbox and this is the first time addressing this topic so and I am in new territory. There is much to learn and I was asked today, “Why do I care?” “Like, why is this such a big deal to you?”
And, the reason is simple. I have young girls being raised in my home and it scares me.
The new soapbox… human trafficking and in my mind and in particular human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
I would probably be turning a blind eye to this topic if it were not for a presentation I saw in Bismarck when I was with the FCCLA students from Bowman County. A presentation was done by an organization called Say Something Assembly that opened my eyes to what is happening in our state. For those of you who don’t know, I live in North Dakota and we have been in a strange economy on the west side of the state due to the oil boom in the Bakken field. This means people in the horrible economies all around the US were moving in droves to work in the Bakken. Many making big money and spending time great distances from their families. Because of this boom in our area, sex trafficking has become a major area of concern.
So what Robin, why do you care? Why post this message? Why blog about it?
Because I saw a presentation that moved my heart, made my eyes cry tears of sorrow for people I have never met, because every single person deserves a decent life and because I promised I would SAY SOMETHING!
During the assembly, the speakers talked about students who were doing great in school, had friends, were well rounded going from being on top of the world, to being in a motel room, lost and alone and someone’s next victim.
They talked about signs that we should watch for in students. Changes in eating behaviors, changes in schedules, changes in the activities they enjoy. Drastic changes could indicate something is wrong and they need to open up and share something but could be too scared to ask for help.
They talked about the number one biggest day of the year for sex trafficking and their quest to find missing persons every year the weekend of the Super Bowl.
The talked about finding one of the missing people on the poster and being unable to help her because she disappeared into the darkness.
These stories reached into my soul and frightened me a bit more than I expected. The stories made me realize this is happening.
A young woman who is no longer a part of the industry spoke about her experience and she talked about what is happening right here in North Dakota. She is online everyday searching and trying to find missing people and has connections and information about what is happening in the Bakken and beyond.
I am trying super hard to add a video link from Vimeo and struggling big time. So… I will type in the URL and hope that you all can follow it.
I was hoping to link that with an image, but no such luck. Please watch the trailer for the video Boom.
It boggled my mind that the taxi driver just flat out said, there are prostitutes in every motel in town. He gives information on how to find them. Right here in North Dakota. I know I sound naive and that I live in the sticks, but it crushes me to think this is my home state and it has been infected with this ugly behavior.
Just a short time ago I received an invitation to an event at a local establishment that is promoting the terminology of the industry. The words used in the event invite were “Pimps” and “Hos”. The following information was taken from the event page on Facebook.
Ok guys! Our friend “Name Withheld” and his lovely lady “Name Withheld” are missing us! They were wondering if it was OK if they came back to Bowman and helped us party a little bit? Come dressed in your favorite pimp/ho outfit and let’s make it interesting. I’m gonna show “Name Withheld” who is boss and I think “Name Withheld” would like to make “Name Withheld” her bitch! Come on down and join us for a night of dancing and kick ass tunes. Maybe we will have fun too:)
I was taken so far off course by the invite that I had to sit back for a minute and decide if I was going to just hit “Decline” and move on with my life or if I needed to do something more. Because I was so outraged by the whole thing, I decided to post on the page. I basically wrote that having a party theme based on something that is causing people to lose their children, families are destroyed and people die because of the industry is not a wise decision.
My post was deleted! Shocker I realize.
What is difficult for me to understand, is the person putting the event on has a young daughter and a young son. What if… What if… What if… that is all I can think. What if either of them were abducted and taken north of here to be used in the sex trafficking industry? What if they were to become depressed and decide to run away and upon running away found someone who really ‘understood’ them and that person was a real life pimp looking for runaways to get into the industry? What if… What if…
I was speaking with a friend today and mentioned my bewilderment regarding the situation. I was telling her I wasn’t sure what a person should do. That I am not sure where the line in ‘minding my own business’ and doing something about it is. She mentioned my blog and I knew in my heart I needed to “Say Something”.
Because I have daughters. Because my sister has young kids, because my nephews are teens and you just never know what could happen. Because I promised I would “Say Something” when I had a chance.
To any of my local friends and family who may or may not have been Facebook invited to the event I am referring to, I ask that you please consider another activity for that particular Saturday night. No good can come of an event where people are encouraged to dress like pimps and hos.
If you have questions about the Say Anything Assembly I was able to see, let me know. It was amazing! If you have questions about my new found quest to bring more awareness to this taboo topic, let me know. I would be happy to answer them.
More information and possibly some posts with missing persons information will be coming in future blog posts. Thanks for sticking with me on this one. It’s not a fun topic and there isn’t anything really lighthearted about it.
And as my son asked me earlier… Why Mom, what makes this such a big deal to you?
Because I promised I would do something and my caring heart needs to Say Something today.