As you may be aware, my novel ‘Vanished’ is a fictional story about the heroic rescue of a human trafficking victim. Today I have the privilege of hosting a member of Fight4Freedom, an organization of real heroes, that work diligently, everyday, saving victims of this disgusting crime. For security reasons, only the member’s first name, Julia, is used.
What is Fight4Feeedom?
Julia: Fight4Freedom began in order to address the growing problem of sex trafficking in both Canada and throughout North America. We’re an active part of the NGO (non-governmental organization) community that hopes to raise awareness of sex trafficking and to see the end of this issue. Community based anti-trafficking groups are working hard to prevent human trafficking, protect vulnerable populations, lobby for policy reform, and rehabilitate victims both at local and global levels.
How big is the problem?
Julia: There are approximately 1,500 people trafficked into Canada annually, which only accounts for around 10% of Canadian trafficking cases. The other 90% of cases are domestic cases of Canadians being trafficked within Canada (often Aboriginal women or youth from low-income communities). Throughout the world, 800,000 people are trafficked annually, and 99.8% of trafficking goes unpunished.
What are some of the challenges in your work? How does Fight4Freedom help?
Julia: Often some of the biggest challenges in working with victims is trying to unravel all of the mental abuse the traffickers have put them through. Trafficking is less often about kidnapping people and forcing them to do work and more about the mental and emotional manipulation of a person to make them do things they would otherwise never do.
The way Fight4Freedom works is by training teams of volunteers to go into high-risk areas, like strip clubs and massage parlors and talk to those who may or may not be victims. Over many visits, we build relationships with them and we want to make ourselves a safe place for them to go. We always train our volunteers to listen first. Once we understand enough about the situation and feel we can act confidently, we build a plan with the survivor based on what they’re comfortable with and what is available. If need be, we may get the police involved and walk with the survivor through the legal process, but if we can do things on our own, we will.
We will often give our survivors first and last month’s rent, in order for them to get set up in an apartment where they can feel comfortable. We’ll also give them grocery gift cards for food and supplies. We also have partnerships with a few counsellors, and they are provided with free sessions for as long as they need. We make a commitment with the survivors to walk with them for a minimum of one year, and with a minimum of one visit per month.
The first few months are really intensive with trying to forge new and better habits and thought processes. We also help them detox from from drugs and alcohol. During our visits, we discuss how they’re doing, their long and short term goals, and types of work they should look into. It’s really cool to see people start to come alive when they’re given a chance to be passionate about something! We take our survivors out for fun activities like horseback riding and paint nights in order to get to know them better in a more relaxed environment.
What lead you personally into choosing this field and organization?
Julia: I got involved with Fight4Freedom about eight months ago. I loved how they were making such practical steps towards giving Jesus’s kind of love in the world.
Learn More About The Amazing Work Fight4Freedom Does:
If you would like to get involved, learn more, or donate, please check out this link: https://www.fight4freedom.ca/volunteer.html