That it exists A lot of times when we hear the word trafficking we think of places overseas and yes that’s what I thought as well until I learned that there are over 300,00 child victims in the U.S. alone. I then didn’t think it was so close to home until I read that St. Louis is in the top 20 cities where trafficking takes place. We are number 17 to be exact! There’s a highway called highway 35 that runs through St. Louis and you can virtually get to any state from it which makes it easier for these children to continuously be shuffled around so that no one finds them. The average age of entry into this sick industry is 13 however, the earliest reported victim in St. Louis was in the second grade and the earliest reported victim ever was 2 years old ;-(.
What their life is like Sex-trafficking is defined as a “commercial sex act induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.” Their life is pretty much hell. In order to groom these victims they make them watch hours of pornography as well as dance in strip clubs. When they are ready, victims have reported having to service up to 40 clients a day.
Know the signs Teachers you may have a victim in your class whose parents sell them on the weekends for drug money. Here are some of the signs, but for a complete list visit here. Social Interaction:
Inability to speak to individual alone
When addressed, answers seem scripted and rehearsed
Inconsistencies when describing or recounting events
Unable or unwilling to give local address of or information about parent or guardian
Refers to sexual situations beyond their age level or maturity
Avoids eye contact
Signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement or torture (may be reluctant to explain)
Untreated illnesses or infections, especially STDs
Lacks healthcare and/or dental care
Tattoos/branding on neck, lower back
Always wears same clothes regardless of weather or situation
There’s help for victims Thank God that there are people in this world dedicating their lives to rescuing and restoring victims of sex-trafficking and we have a wonderful organization right here in St. Louis, MO called The Covering House. The Covering House is a place where victims can seek refuge, transitional housing, therapy, prevention and out-client services.
How you can help There are a number of ways that you can help. The Covering House is a great place to start. Whether donating money, time, or talent, they can definitely use your help. If this issue pricks your heart like it does mine, take a look at their website and see where you fit in. One of their biggest fundraisers is coming up called the Race For Refuge on September 5th at Tower Grove Park. Kenny and I will be there and we hope to see you too!
My husband and I are also doing a Beauty Drive. The Covering House has this beautiful home in an undisclosed location where victims can have a safe place to rehabilitate. They are in need of African American Hair products such as, shampoo, conditioner and styling products. We have two drop off locations one at a Cosecha Coffee7360 Manchester Rd. in Maplewood and in St. Ann ALISA’s TKO Barber and Beauty Salon9774 St. Charles Rock Road. We are collecting these products now through Saturday, Septmber 12th. Small acts like this are a way to restore these girls beauty inside and out. Show them that love is dope!
Marriage is a beautiful thing! It’s also probably one of the toughest things anyone will ever do in their life. Marriage is about being completely vulnerable, emotionally naked and it’s also a mirror that shows you who you really are. Kenny and I are coming up on 3 yrs of marriage and we’ve both grown personally as well as collectively. It’s really quite amazing actually. I love him more today than I ever have. A lot of times people see our pictures and post and think that we’ve had the “perfect” relationship but let me tel, you that is completely false. We’ve seen some really dark days, but our commitment to each other, our faith and love brought us through. We also sow into our marriage. Whatever you sow you reap and that what we believe. Here are five ways to reap an amazing harvest in your married life:
1. Date night: Alone time is so important especially when you have children. When Kenny and I first had Shiloh, we had a date on our deck while he was asleep. We are deliberate about making time for each other no matter how busy we get.
2. Hang out with other happily married couples and ask questions.
It’s great to hang out with newly weds as well as couples who’ve been married a while. It’s great to be inspired by young love and learn wisdom from mature love. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask them how they made it. There’s no dumb question. Real Talk.
3. Seek wise counseling: I highly recommend pre-marital counseling not the “froo froo” stuff but the real deal. Kenny and I read the book Preparing for Marriage and it really forced us to talk about issues that we probably wouldn’t have until they came up in our marriage. We also sought counseling in our marriage. We’re both messed up people with messed up pasts and counseling was a safe place to process those issues together.
5. Follow a Marriage Ministry: Following a marriage ministry is so great and really helped us our first two years of marriage. We learned through Karen and Jimmy Evans. We learned how to create a marriage vision and align our life according to what we sow for our marriage. Another awesome ministry to follow especially on Instagram is Marriage 365. Casey and Meygan are a really awesome couple that are champions of marriage. They give great date night tips, encouragement and even help in the bedroom;). One last resource I want to give you is a new online magazine, 2Half2Whole is a marriage magazine that’s goal is to inspire married couples. There are tons of great inspirational marriage stories in the magazine as well as tips.
Marriage life is so wonderful, but you don’t have to do it alone. There are so many resources available and with Jesus at the center you’re bullet proof. Loves love ya! Feel free to share your thoughts on this post!
Hi there – my name is April and I’m a video producer/director living in St. Louis, Missouri. I was raised by two wonderful parents who ingrained in me a strong sense of compassion, fairness, and concern for right and wrong. When I was in college, I heard about the genocide in Darfur and my world was shaken. To learn that a government, in our day and age, is able to exterminate hundreds of thousands of people over a number a years with barely any comment from the rest of civilization was utterly shocking to me.
Shortly after graduating from college, I moved to St. Louis and met a handful of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and became captivated by their warmth and authenticity. Then I heard their stories. Some saw their family and neighbors slaughtered with machetes right in front of them. Some were forced out of their homes by armed men and sent running through the African wilderness for days and weeks, totally on their own. Many didn’t know what became of their family members or if they were even alive. Yet somehow they had made it to the USA and met my acquaintance, changing my life forever.
It’s easy as Americans to ignore what’s going on in Africa, either because we think it’s irrelevant or because it can be uncomfortable and ugly and complicated. But my Congolese friends cannot ignore or forget.
Four women are raped every five minutes in the DRC. Sexual violence is used as a weapon, effectively tearing apart the entire family unit with a single act. But at Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Eastern DRC, there are people attempting to help repair these wounds, physical and emotional. I now work with a foundation that helps to fund the hospital, started by a friend of mine, Dr. Lee Ann De Reus, known as Panzi Foundation USA. This summer, along with Lee Ann, I will be traveling to the Congo to shoot a documentary project highlighting the work of Panzi Hospital and the resilience of the women of Eastern DRC. We want to tell POSITIVE stories, because we think everyone is sick of reading about the horrors. I’m taking off of work to go and will be donating my time and using my equipment, but Panzi Foundation USA needs donations to pay for travel expenses. If you’d like to be a part of making this project a reality, please visit the indiegogo page, donate if you can, and share this campaign with your friends, family, and social networks.