Photography by Nathan Villaume
Did you know that Charlotte is the #1 city in NC and #7 city in the nation for human trafficking activity? Stunned? Hold on. There’s more. A girl is bought and sold every 15 seconds for an average cost of $90. That means, by the time you finished reading that statistic, one girl has been forced into human trafficking. By the time you finish reading this article… well. You do the math.
What is human trafficking? Human trafficking is the illegal act of transporting people from one area to another with the purpose of forced coercion. In simple terms, that basically means that a human being performs a service and doesn’t get paid for it. Between the sports culture and convenient placement between two major interstates, Charlotte is ideally located to be a hub for human trafficking and the statistics show our city takes advantage of it. We don’t know about you, but to us, that’s unacceptable.
We’re thankful for organizations like Compassion to Act, who are working on a solution for human trafficking in our city. Their three main values are Liberation, Restoration, and Sustain the Change.
It’s hard to do their work justice in a short article, so we encourage you to visit their website for the full story. But, in a nutshell, the Liberation value is acted upon through Compassion to Act’s emergency safe house in the city of Charlotte. It’s not a long-term solution yet, but it is a safe house that is a crucial first step for getting women out of human trafficking situations. Compassion to Act is also active in the strip clubs. They bring the women gifts and meals with the goal of building relationships that allow them to bring the women closer to Liberation. Since 2013, almost 4000 bags have been given in the strip clubs from these efforts and helped countless women with basic needs that allowed them to put trafficking behind them.
The Restoration value is exercised with mentoring once Liberation has happened. Sustain the Change is what Compassion to Act is most excited to share about. Once liberated, the challenge is far from over for women leaving human trafficking. In addition to their other ministries, Compassion to Act plans to open a transitional home and a storefront called The Compassion Center. So many of these brave women have difficulty landing or holding jobs due to their past. This center is how Compassion to Act can help them push past that obstacle and on the way to healing by providing jobs for the women in their care. These women want to work in the city and Compassion to Act wants to help.
How can you help? First and foremost, awareness is key. Be aware of your surroundings and go with your instincts. If you see something that doesn’t look right, make a phone call to the human trafficking hotline (1-888-373-7888 or text HELP to 2333733 [BEFREE]). Parents, be aware of who is on your child’s phone and your own. Do you actually know who your Facebook friends are? What apps are on your child’s phone? With whom your children are communicating? In case of emergency, do you know your children’s electronics passwords? You’re not being overbearing by wanting to know these things. You’re being safe.
Second, support organizations like Compassion to Act. This is a year-long problem, and as such, Compassion to Act is always looking for volunteers. They have an easy online form on their website that you can fill out to get started. Attending or promoting an awareness event in your social networks is another easy way of getting involved! For example, Compassion to Act is hosting a Run 4 Their Lives 5K on May 11. Whether you volunteer or run, you can leave knowing you helped make a difference in a trafficked woman’s life.
We ask that if you remember anything from this article, remember this: The best thing you can do is put your compassion to action and do something for your city. Everyone can do something. Maybe you can’t give money, but you can pray, give time, be aware. You can act. What are YOU waiting for?