Human nature is to test our surroundings, see what our limits are and above all, survive. Many times victims of human trafficking, abduction, rape or domestic violence are often forced by their friends and family to think of ways the situation could have been avoided. They may hear some of the following:
*There were so many red flags. Why didn’t you see them?
*If only you’d… this would have never happened.
*You need to take responsibility for your mistakes in this situation.
Although these arguments may satisfy an innate desire to place blame, avoid a problem that has already occurred (denial) or punish the victim because the trafficker is not accessible (projection), they are very debilitating to a victim.
Yes, there are steps that can be taken to avoid being abused, but a recovering victim’s exposure to these tactics needs to be well worded and timely. It is recommended that a licensed therapist guide a victim through these tactics for future safety when the time is right.
Do you remember when you were a child and you were told not to touch the stove because it was hot? That bright red burner was simply too blinding to let sit without at least putting your fingers close to feel the warmth. Some of us may have even tapped the surface to feel how hot it was for ourselves because the territory was new, exciting, invigorating. Others may have slapped the surface with an open hand, soon regretting our decision. Still others, like many who are trafficked, are pushed into the burner and unable to control the downward spiral of circumstance.
Touching the stove may seem like a bad decision in retrospect, but at the time we were ignorant to the life threatening complications burns can cause. How would we know if we’d never experienced a burn before?
After our hand was burned, no amount of “Didn’t I tell you…” conversations will ever compare to the healing affect of some aloe gel and being held lovingly in a rocking chair that gently glides back and forth, propelled by someone who wished they could take the pain away.
Many times, families of victims will want to inflict more pain to help teach a lesson to their loved ones. Please hear this:
The experience was lesson enough. If you know someone who has been victimized, get the aloe gel and rock them gently with the Love of Christ.
Do not try to play God, place blame or problem solve the unsolvable. It goes against our human nature to show unconditional positive regard to someone who has come out of something we see as avoidable. But please remember that we’ve all reached for the stove. This fact doesn’t mean we deserved to be burned. It means that as humans, we all have vulnerabilities.
Be sensitive to victims’ already deeply founded self-doubts and regrets. Help build their esteem, not tear them down. Love covers a multitude of mistakes and bares all things. Above all, these victims followed many human instincts, but the one that should be magnified is that of survival. They came out alive and fought for their freedom which takes mental and physical strength.