Human Trafficking, A form of Modern Day Slavery

Is your Center Informed?

Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. According to the American Health Association, estimates show that approximately 80 percent of human trafficking victims are women, and health care providers are often the first professionals to have contact with trafficked women and girls.

Pregnancy centers are in a unique position to make a difference in a trafficked women and her unborn baby’s life, just by being informed and knowing what to do. Unfortunately, many women who are being trafficked are forced into having abortion. It may be your center that she walks into, to seek answers and help in her time of crisis.

There are common myths and misconceptions about human trafficking. Many believe that people being trafficked are physically unable to leave their situation or are locked in against their will. Some may believe that human trafficking only happens in illegal or underground industries and that traffickers only target those they do not know. Those are just a few of the common myths. If these are myths, then what are the facts?

Human trafficking can happen to anyone but some may be more at risk than others. According to Polaris, traffickers recognize and take advantage of those who are vulnerable. This includes those in foster care, runaways or those in involved in the juvenile justice system. It includes those with an unstable living situation and those who may be addicted to drugs or alcohol, or has a caregiver/family member with a substance abuse issue. It can happen to those with economic need or those facing poverty, and undocumented immigrants.

Recognizing key indicators is valuable information as you may be saving the trafficked victims life. I will list some indicators below, but please remember not all indicators listed are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking.

  • If the person is school age are they attending school?
  • No Personal ID, or Fake ID
  • Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
  • Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
  • Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?
  • Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
  • Is the person in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation?
  • Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
  • In the presence of a “boyfriend” may call him “Daddy”
  • References of the “the game” or “the life”
  • Excess cash/hotel room keys
  • Has branding tattoos (money signs, initials, name, weapons, crown or barcode)
  • Will not make eye contact

Now that you know some potential indicators it is even more important to know what to do. If possible speak to the women alone and always approach her with empathy. Do not start the conversation by asking “Are you being sex trafficked?” Begin with something like “Do you feel safe in your home?” or “I noticed your guest with you today. Do you feel like you can speak openly in their presence?” and reaffirm them that you just want to make sure they are safe.  Build rapport and listen well. Most victims feel like no one can be trusted. So it’s important that you continue to do what you do best, give the woman who is in crisis back her power and control. Empower her by giving her education on how to move forward, when she is ready.

At your center you will want to be familiar with local community resources. Know which hospitals in your area have Forensic Nurses or Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners. All the victim has to do is show up in the Emergency Department and allow the experts to take over. Establish a connection with the local advocacy centers in your area and be informed on how they can assist. Most importantly, no matter if the person is ready to take the next step to freedom or not, call the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline. Even if you are not 100% certain about the situation, report what you know and/or you can request resources. As always, if the person is in immediate danger call 911.

U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline 1 888 373-7888 or for the victim text “BeFree” 233733

Samaritans Versus Innkeepers

“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”

Leo Buscaglia

As a leader of people, one of the most important tasks one has is to place the right people in the right seats. For Executive Directors of pregnancy centers and clinics, this can be very challenging. Usually, people who work or volunteer for pregnancy centers and clinics are passionate about the mission and willing to help wherever needed. If people are not working in an area that they are passionate about or best fits their talents and strengths, employee satisfaction and retention will become an issue.

Each individual is unique. However, in a pregnancy center setting, they will usually fall into one of two categories, a “Samaritan” or an “Innkeeper.” In Luke 10, Jesus told the story of the Samaritan and the Innkeeper. A man was stripped and beaten and left half-dead as he was traveling to Jericho. People passed by him but didn’t stop to help. Finally, a Samaritan stopped and cleaned and bandaged his wounds. The Samaritan then took him to an inn where he could receive care. The next day, the Samaritan departed and left the man in the Innkeeper’s care until he recovered. The Samaritan took care of the immediate crisis. The Innkeeper met the man’s long term needs.

When a woman comes into a pregnancy center, she is like the man in crisis. She has immediate needs that must be addressed to for her to move forward. There is critical information and resources that she needs immediately. The Focus Method, taught by The SperaVita Institute, equips centers to handle these immediate needs. Additionally, the woman often needs ongoing care and support to help her move forward beyond her initial visits to a center. She may need discipleship, parenting classes, material goods, etc.

Center Directors need to identify the Samaritans and Innkeepers on their teams and place people in the area of their gifting and greatest effectiveness.

As an Executive Director, I recommend having a way to assess your staff’s giftings and the things they are excited and passionate about doing. Ask yourself: What energizes them? What gives them joy? What do they find most rewarding? Then put them in a position that best suits them. When you do this, you will maximize each individual’s effectiveness, leading to a more effective organization. In the end, this leads to lives saved and transformed.

Why We Must Focus

“Focus on doing the right things instead of a bunch of things.” Mike Krieger

One of the core values we have at the SperaVita Institute is to provide cutting edge training. We strive to give our trained centers the latest information and resources we have available to us as we strive for excellence. We are continually refining our processes, looking at metrics, and making sure that what we offer is “best practice.” However, in our practice of staying current, our focus never changes, which is to serve the right women at the right time, in the most effective way possible.

One of the reasons so many clinics and centers also strive to be “cutting edge” is because they desire to give excellent care that offers an alternative to Planned Parenthood. They feel they must expand services to go toe to toe with what Planned Parenthood says they offer. In striving to be the “Planned Parenthood alternative,”

it is vital that we do not allow ourselves to become distracted by expanding services to the point that we stretch our resources too much and weaken our ability to do the most important thing. We must remember who they are and what their focus is. We must steward our resources in a way that maximizes our effectiveness to become that true alternative. It is vital that we truly become who we hope to be and who we say we are.

Leana Wen, the Director of Planned Parenthood, recently tweeted, “Our core mission is providing, protecting, and expanding access to abortion and reproductive healthcare.” In their recent annual report (2018-2019), Planned Parenthood stated they performed 325,000 abortions. They estimate that this equals 4% of the services they provide, which is an increase from previous years. Planned Parenthood derives this statistic from reporting the number of “services” rather than the number of patients. For example, if a pregnant patient has an abortion, but also receives STD testing, counseling, a pregnancy test, and education while she is there, the abortion accounts for 20% of services during that appointment. The reported percentage is deceptive. According to the CDC and Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood provides between 1/3 to 1/2 of all abortions nationwide. It is evident what their real focus is.

The SperaVita Institute exists to help centers around the country reach their full potential. Just as the “core mission” of Planned Parenthood is to expand abortion and take more lives, ours must be on increasing our capacity to save them. This is the heart of our Focus Method patient process training. This method helps centers to maximize resources, focus on reaching the women at the highest risk for abortion and helping those women choose life for their unborn child. Our vision is to train 250 centers over the next ten years, which we estimate will save over 1 million more lives. Each one of those 1 million lives is of infinite worth, but they will be at risk if we take our eye off of the goal. This is why we must focus.