You never know really, really stupid until it is in your face
During my travels I meet a lot of interesting and great people. People that are really wanting to make a difference in the world. People on the front lines, people that wish they could be on the front lines, and the people that question whether human trafficking even exists in the United States. The questions I get asked border on brilliant and sometimes I wonder how the person actually breathes. With that being said the conversation I had this morning takes the cake.
I met a police officer several months back. He is a good old boy cop from the lower half of the state that had an amazing heart for victims of all crime. I remember being impressed with his questions leaning toward "how do we stop the johns?" which is the key component to trafficking. Eliminate the buyer and the sellers will go back to selling guns or drugs instead of people. I thought at the time "this guy really gets it" and will do great things in his local area to protect those being trafficked.
Fast forward to 8:18 this morning. My phone rings and lo and behold it is the lovable country cop I met. He says, " I have some questions" and I was more than happy to give him whatever answers he needed. He then explained that they arrested a guy at a local motel that was paying for the services of a 15 year old girl. My first statement was "That is amazing, did you get the pimp?" He wanted to let me know that he was making a difference and he responded that no, he wasn't there, but that they had arrested the john and the girl, but the guy had already posted bail and was back on the streets. I asked him how someone that committed statutory rape could get out of jail so fast. His next statement sent chills through me and is the reason we are in this situation. "Well no we didn't arrest him on that charge because she was a drugged up prostitute." As I fought back the rage and the desire to drive south and knock some sense into him, all I could say is "Are you really that %$#%^ stupid? So being raped daily by old perverts makes her 18 in the eyes of the law?"
I then had to explain to him that yes she was on drugs. Chances are she was forced to take them at the beginning to gain compliance and takes them now to forget that she has to have sex with old men all day, every day. I explained that she was being prostituted by someone that had zero care in the world for her well being or safety. I asked him, "how many little girls do you know that want to grow up to be prostitutes?" As I gained composure I realized that this mindset is a product of our society and he just really didn't think about the full gravity of the situation. I asked him about the girl and he said she was bailed out by her Uncle. This was not investigated and after some reflection he thought this was probably not her Uncle. So now she is back on the streets being prostituted for her pimps financial gain. The pedophile john is back at work or doing whatever he does and probably looking for another young girl he can pay to rape.
As I chose to get into this arena, I really had no idea how bad things really were. I fully know now. There are good days and bad days just like any other occupation. The bad days typically beat out the good, but some things are worth fighting for. The good news to the whole story is the police officer is going to call me next time before they arrest a prostitute (any age and any sex) and let me guide them through the process and hopefully really figure out what is happening. At this point we are still working toward opening up our first housing center for these survivors. If I did have the opportunity to speak to the girl, I still would not have a place to put her. These survivors should not be placed in group settings with non-trafficking survivors due to the sheer amount of trauma. Kids that have been trafficked do not need to go into a system that doesn't understand their pain and is ill equipped to deal with the aftermath.
This looks like a loss but it was really a win. Someone was educated which in turn educated an entire department about the issues that we face.
We cannot have this happening in our great country. Please help us stop this epidemic.