Many of our volunteers and supporters ask us for a list of good resources where they can learn more about the issue of domestic sex trafficking. There are a growing number of books and documentaries that address the topic. We’ve compiled a short list of things we have read through so far.
Renting Lacy by Linda Smith
As a US Congresswoman, Smith began to unearth the devastating realities that human trafficking was taking place on American soil and victimizing American children. This book tells the stories of the many children she personally interviewed in her efforts to inform the public, our government, and the non-profits seeking to serve those affected by sex trafficking. She recounts their stories as though the girls themselves are speaking, which portrays much of the thought process and internal reasoning that goes on in the minds of a victim. It is a difficult, yet valuable read.
Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd
Lloyd is a trafficking survivor who went on to found a highly respected non-profit that works with at risk and victimized youth in New York. This book is a painfully direct memoir of her past, her hope, and her current work. She includes not only the details of personal her journey in the commercial sex industry but also those of many of the girls her organization works with, which gives an interesting cross-section of the lives affected by this industry.
In Our Backyard by Nita Belles
Belles wrote this book as a result of the research she began while getting her masters. The more she dug into the topic of human trafficking, the more compelled she was to bring the stories to life. This book tackles sex trafficking as just one arm in a multi-arm beast. She also explores slave labor in the U.S. as well as the forced labor of migrants.
The White Umbrella by Mary Frances Bowley
This book brings a Christian perspective to the worker/volunteer who comes alongside trafficking survivors to help them heal. Bowley teaches her readers about some of the challenges and joys that come with serving the girls who are working to start their lives over after years of abuse. It is incredibly helpful to hear this perspective for those hoping to volunteer with RFW because it gives first hand insight and reminds us who is really doing the healing (God!).
Stolen by Cecil Murphey and Katariina Rosenblatt
Rosenblatt was targeted as a child not once, but twice, before finally being lured into the snare of a pimp. She gives needed insight into the difficult home lives and abuse that are all too frequent among sex trafficking victims and which make them easy targets for traffickers. Rosenblatt’s story of God’s pursuit of her, starting with a strong personal encounter with Billy Graham the year before she was first targeted, provided a very interesting angle to her story. God was with her through her entire journey.
The Slave Across the Street by Theresa Flores
Flores’ survivor story is helpful to digest for several reasons. First, she sheds light on one of the common coercion tactics used by traffickers: blackmail and threat of harm to the victim’s family. Second, her trafficking story took place all while she remained living with and under the care of her white, upper-middle class family in the suburbs. It serves as a great reminder that this problem has no boundaries and can affect anyone. It also was a helpful read to understand red flags that may help us put a stop to someone else’s trauma.
Resources can be helpful to grasping the depths of this injustice. Clearly, we’ve read plenty and know the value in the education they give us. But from another perspective, we also think that nothing can replace the knowledge you gain from simply sitting with one of our survivors and hearing their personal story. When you have a face, a voice, and real emotions accompanying the story you hear, then your heart is connected to that woman in a meaningful way. We invite you to come spend some time with them.