We have heard about sex trafficking from the movie "Taken". However, was that an accurate depiction of what trafficking looks like in a first-world country like America? I have had the privilege of working with many survivors of sexual exploitation and trafficking throughout the years. All of their situations and stories are different; I'm honored to be invited into their lives.
One thing I have noticed working in this movement is a gap that exists between housing assistance for LGBTQ+ survivors of exploitation/trafficking...let me explain. I lead a faith based organization to women who currently work in the sex industry. We aren't there to "rescue" anyone like liam Neeson; we are simply there to love them. IF THEY approach us saying that they need assistance like groceries, gas money, or housing, we still step in to assist.
Even though our "target demographic" is women, we have never turned anyone away. Although rare, we have provided assistance for sis-men and transgendered persons. In my experience, finding trauma-informed housing for a transgendered adult is near impossible. I'm not talking about a homeless shelter. I'm talking about a residential program, faith-based or not, that exists specifically for LGBTQ+ survivors of sex trafficking or sexual exploitation.
I wish I had the answer of how to "fix" this issue today... but I don't. However, I do believe if a faith based organization had a genuine love and burden for this community, this could be an incredible way to speak into the lives of a marginalized group of people:
1. Marginalized because of their sexual identity.
2. Marginalized because they are a prostituted person.
Notice I didn't not say "prostitute"... being trauma-informed when working with a marginalized demographic is so key. I believe that often we must strive to meet someone's basic physical needs before we have any authority in their life to meet their spiritual needs. I love the modality of servant-evangelism. I believe Jesus embodied that too.
Jesus tended to go after "the one". He wasn't focused on the masses of people... he was focused on the woman at the well, Zacchaeus, Mary of Bethany who washed Jesus' feet, the woman with the issue of blood, and the many other individuals he stopped for. Stop for "the one", love with no strings attached, and leave the rest up to God.
- Nicole Phillips
Nicole Phillips is founder of Lavished Ministries, an organization who seeks to help women transition out of the commercial sex industry.
If you need help or suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, please contact the National Human Trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888