Last night I had some of my misconceptions exploded. I had my eyes opened to something evil which is on our doorstep and in our community. Human trafficking and exploitation.
Four men talked at Church of their helplessness whilst being trafficked, and about their journey out of the abuse. These men were not the sort of people who we immediately see as “victims”. They confidently shared about their experiences as they felt able to. We listened!
These men spoke of the “emptiness” or void which comes from the abuse. The lack of connection with other people, and isolation. This emotional vacuum, and – something I found most poignant – the guilt about the inability to forgive the abuser which prohibits, or inhibits, closure on the abuse.
The men were from different parts of the world, Europe, Africa, East Asia and the UK.
We were moved by their stories. We heard from a local manager of a project working with victims, and setting them on a course of recovery. We learned of the frustrating time constraints which the workers have to work within for non-UK nationals. We listened to someone who trains people to recognise the signs of exploitation in the community.
We heard of a man who had become so desperate in his plight that he tried to commit suicide, the police intervened and took him to A&E and he was later discharged – the underlying issue behind the presenting issue – his being trafficked – not being followed up, or even recognised.
- First of all – if you have spare good warm coats they would be useful for us to pass on – do bring them to Church and we will do the rest.
- Secondly, if you pass by our Church and see men on the bench outside – wave, smile and perhaps connect with them. A small thing to do, perhaps but isolation and lack of self-esteem can easily be remedied by a little positive action on our part.
- Third – the issue is enormous, and we can feel overwhelmed by it. COME Along to our follow-up meeting on 17th November at 7.30 and find out ways to recognise the signs of trafficking in our community and about what we can do to challenge it.
- Fourth – pray, and don’t delay in taking action.