The following is a guest post by Aaron Daniel Behr. Aaron loves God, literature and rhetoric. His first book, The Husband, a memoir of divorce and mental illness, is now available from Columbus Press on all major markets.
The Black Lens does what a narrative is supposed to do—it raises awareness by immersing readers in an unfamiliar world. It unflinchingly sheds light on the darkness in our society, the evil hiding in our backyard. Sex trafficking is real. It’s a horror that claims 14,500 to 17,500 new victims a year, and it occurs in every state in the U.S. The average entry age into this modern-day slavery is 13. It is an industry that claims mostly young girls, many of whom have already suffered sexual abuse.
These numbers are staggering, but the problem only continues to grow. Every day we stay silent, every day we neglect meaningful discussions about this epidemic, is another day of opportunity for exploitation. Evil triumphs in our apathy while young men and women suffer. Real change will only come with action, with legislation, with engaged everyday people who commit to using their voices.
The Salvation Army has been amplifying voices into action for hundreds of years. They pioneered undercover investigations into sex trafficking in the 1800s, leading to the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 and harsher penalties for sex traffickers. The Salvation Army has provided shelter, counseling, food and continual support for victims for over 200 years.
Today, they work closely with organizations likely to encounter sex trafficking, including the FBI, ICE and local law enforcement. Through these partnerships they work to identify, rescue and restore victims of sexual exploitation.
One hundred percent of donations to the Salvation Army’s Human Trafficking Prevention Program are used to directly impact the lives of those affected by human trafficking. The Salvation Army lives by a simple motto, “Do the most good,” and it stands by that philosophy in the application of funds and donations.
Many years ago I was asked to take a part-time position as a local Salvation Army case worker, where I saw firsthand the role the Salvation Army takes in the lives of victims. I worked the case of a girl who had been sold into sex slavery at 15. She was forced to work in the industry for three years before she was rescued. The Salvation Army transported her from Florida back to Ohio to be with her family, provided a place for her to stay, counseling and career help. It was my job to facilitate the girl’s financial needs as she began to create a life for herself, and those funds were pulled directly from public contributions to the local Salvation Army branch. Last I checked, she was finishing up her GED. This is a story from a town of 18,000 people. Imagine how many other lives are being impacted across the country.
I’m donating the first $200,000 in royalties from my book The Husband to the Salvation Army to help kids who are bullied and abused, as I was, receive the love and encouragement they need from people who care. The Salvation Army takes action to change lives—from helping victims of sex trafficking across the country to after-school programs for kids in my hometown.
You don’t have to give money or write a book to fight sex trafficking. Seek out organizations in your community that promote action. With hundreds of years of experience, the Salvation Army is a great place to start. Find out how you can help here.