By Wendy J Olson, Healing Coach, Founder + Executive Director of Grit Plus Gumption
There has been a lot of chatter around the issue of human trafficking thanks, in part, to the movie “Sound of Freedom.” A couple of weeks ago, we, as an organization, released a public statement about our stance on the movie:
“Grit Plus Gumption does NOT support the movie “Sound of Freedom” in any way, shape, or form. The movie depicts a man whose organization has brought great harm to trafficking survivors and who blatantly exploited children in the process of his “mission.“
It also does not depict an accurate picture of what trafficking looks like in the US, despite promoting that it does. There are also many links from the movie to the actors, to the founder of O.U.R. itself to the terrorist/cult group, QAnon, whose main purpose is to spread misinformation.
It is harmful to ACTUAL survivors of human trafficking and provides a false narrative of the issue.
So, no, ANY awareness is not GOOD awareness if that awareness is WRONG.
Even though the way you learned about the anti-trafficking movement might have been misinformed, we want you to know we still want you here. Survivors and allies have been working together for 25 years to change this injustice in our neighborhoods. And now you can be a part of that story.
With Grit, that determination, and Gumption, the courage to move forward in passionate pursuit of your calling, we know you have something unique to give this world. And we want you to come alongside and learn with us. We only require that you stay curious and open as you grow.”
And we stand by this.
But why make such a big deal out of a movie if it gets people talking about the issue of human trafficking? Because for years, people have had a misinformed idea of what human trafficking, more specifically s** trafficking, looks like. And more and more, it is becoming increasingly harmful to the survivors of trafficking themselves.
I want you to imagine exiting an abusive relationship in which you KNOW you were abused but didn’t have a name for it. And for this example, we will be talking about a domestic violence or intimate partner violence scenario, as this is more prevalent and well-known.
You were abused in your relationship. You body doesn’t show it. You were never hit, punched, or bruised, but your body knows it. There are signs after you exit the relationship that cause you to believe you have PTSD. The symptoms many war veterans experience, you too are experiencing in the first few weeks and months after leaving the abusive relationship.
However, everywhere you turn, people are promoting that domestic violence means bruises. It means physical violence, and that was not your experience. You were trapped from leaving your home when you wanted to. You were kept from having money to spend as you needed. You were called names, but they never used bad words. You were controlled and manipulated. Everything you said was used against you.
When you leave a relationship, it can feel like you are all alone. And now, the narrative that is being fed to everyone in the free world is that your experience of intimate partner violence is NOT true. It was not abuse. And no one believes you.
Now imagine that, but as a trafficking victim. People label you, calling you a prostitute or a sex worker instead of naming that you were trafficked. Did you know that most trafficking victims don’t know they are being trafficked and also don’t find out until many years after they’ve exited the life?
It’s a heartbreaking reality.
So no, not all awareness is the RIGHT awareness, and not just any awareness is good.
If you’d like to learn more about the RIGHT kind of awareness on the complex issue of human trafficking, feel free to download our free PDF that lists movies, books, tv shows, and a few trusted organizations that are spreading good awareness.
Do your research. Stay open. Be curious. Learn and grow.
And then come join us in this good fight.
Wendy J Olson is the Founder and Executive Director of Grit Plus Gumption Farmstead, a 501c3 nonprofit. She also works as a healing coach, facilitating the Allender Center modality of Story Work, (Narrative Focused Trauma Care. ) She walks with women through their stories of past hurts and traumas, guiding them to freedom and healing.