The Human Trafficking Epidemic in the Central Valley
By: Linda Mitchell
So what is Breaking The Chains you may wonder? It’s about compassion, trust, helping others and showing love. It’s also a non-profit organization with a faith-based option that works hard 24/7 to help women escape the claws of sex trafficking.
I want to start by telling you that this is alive, kicking and thriving in Fresno County. This is not something you watch on television and say, “Oh, its in Missouri, or Iowa, not California. We are not detached from this sick crime. We are in the midst of this.
Can it happen to my kids? Yes it can, and right before your eyes and you won’t even know it if you don’t know what to look out for.
There are 3 effective ways this happens
- Kidnapping from malls, homes, etc. Not as common, but it can and does happen.
- Gangs-Everyone wants to belong & feel needed; that’s why they join.
- Social Media/Internet-This is called the Romeo.
We will focus on #3 as it’s the most common and comes into your home without your knowledge. You may be wondering what the target age is; are you ready? 12 to 14 year old girls.
So all you parents listen up, take notes, and start getting nosy with your kids social media accounts and devices.
Here’s a brief example how this can happen: 12-year old Candice is on social media. She gets a private message from someone she doesn’t know, maybe a friend of a friend, and the message says, “I really like your profile picture”. It’s always a comment/message that flatters the girl. Candice responds, “thanks,” then decides to check out the profile of the guy checking her out. He looks her age, he’s cute, and she gets interested in this boy who has expressed interest in her. Note: Predators prey on our most innate need, which is affection.
Here the friendship begins very innocently. Dependency is created and he just continues to show her affection and support which she so desperately wants. Before you know it, he’s her
Boyfriend now. She loves that he tells her nice things. He may even be buying her nice things at this point. She belongs and feels loved. Then one day, he tells her he’s leaving town, she begs him not to go. A plan is devised to join him and in her mind, it’s her idea.
Once she has joined him, she will do whatever is necessary to make him happy. And he will keep complimenting her to keep her in business. She perceives it as her idea all along.
This is the unsettling truth. It happens everyday, over a period of time. The volunteers at Breaking The Chains have a heart for helping hurting hearts, spirits and lives. They give with everything they are because it speaks to their hearts. These survivors have lost the trust of those closest to them. They undergo counseling to learn to let go of the unseen scars.
Law Enforcement Agencies, such as the Police Department, Sheriff’s Department, FBI, Homeland Security, all work together to help. The success of the organization is dependent on donations and cooperation from many agencies.
Breaking The Chains focuses on survivors over 18 years old and most of the time, it’s the only assistance they receive. They have an annual fundraiser dinner, however, the biggest need they have is for committed monthly donations which greatly help with their budget and planning.
Awareness is the first step to growing this organization to increase the number of survivors they can help. Survivors have basic needs that our community can provide. The organization is in need of monthly contributions. Please reach out to us at Green Fin Realty and we can put you in touch and let you know how you can help.
The MOST important thing Breaking The Chains wants you to know is this,
“WE NEED COMMUNITY SUPPORT.”