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Captivity and Control: What does captivity look like for human trafficking victims? May 20, 2013

Filed under: CATCH COURT REFLECTIONS,Uncategorized — julieannclark @ 12:15 pm
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Let me first just say how brave you are to be reading about this.  It takes courage to learn about the ‘messy’ in our world.  Firsthand, I can tell you that it is freeing and empowering to have knowledge about this topic.  It arms you with information you need in order to keep our world and our children safe.  We are thrilled to announce that our next Abo U class this summer will be an entire day of learning about sexual exploitation, how to spot a predator, how to protect your family from such people, and how to teach a child at EVERY age about unsafe people without instilling fear.  Register for updates and announcements for class dates here.    Again—this is a difficult topic to digest.  But you and your family can live free from fear with just a little education.

So… on with post 2, in response to many questions after the Cleveland rescue:

Captivity and Control:   What does captivity look like for human trafficking victims?

Once they are in relationship with a recruiter or trafficker, the trafficker knows it is important to keep them under their control and to make them think she is not in captivity.  While they sometimes do this through physical chains and enslavement, they also use much mind control.

Psychological Manipulation!  (Love!)  Many truly believe their trafficker is a lover.  He/she buys her nice things and makes her feel special.  In one of the many manuals teaching people how to traffic others, a pimp remarked:  “She loved to shop so much that I could manipulate her with shopping”.   Trauma bonding and Stockholm Syndrome are at the heart of why some victims never leave—and why many return to abusers.  That same pimp also coaches traffickers to look for a weakness:

“ most… have low self esteem for a reason.  A pimp [trafficker] looks for that weakness, and if it isn’t on the surface, s/he brings it out of them.  It doesn’t matter what her weaknesses are, as long as they have them.  Then he uses those weaknesses to his advantage… It is the best trait you can find in someone you want to control.    If you can’t find one, you have to create one. … tear someone’s ego down to nothing before they will start looking to you for salvation….  Show them it’s your program that takes them from darkness to hope…   you are their hero—even if the weakness you rescue them from is actually one you created”.


Force!  One girl a few weeks ago said that her escort trafficker only used violence when she wasn’t submissive—so she avoided the violence by being compliant.   Other forceful ways to keep someone in captivity that we have seen in our town include cinder block cells, basements, and yes—ropes.   Traumatic Brain Injury is common in our ladies, as is PTSD from all of the violence.  I can’t stomach writing much more about this, but this article about one of the Cleveland girls illuminates the reality of abuse.

Drugs!  Addiction is a common way to enforce control and captivity.   Sometimes the young women have no addiction, and through coercion or as a way to numb the pain, they will partake in drugs provided to them by the trafficker.  Another pimp coaches the traffickers to find a highly addictive, expensive drug, so that she won’t escape.

Shame!  Shame is powerful.  Many women feel as though they have no worth outside of who this person has created them to be.   Shame is instilled early on in unsafe relationships, and at doma, we think it is critical to parent and to love others in a way that is free from shaming them.   If you’ve said to your children in frustration, ‘why in the world did you do that?’,  you might shame without recognizing it.  (We will be sharing more about parenting without shame at our one day Abo U.)  From day one with our ladies, the team of professionals AND our volunteers are taught how to love without judgment and to redirect feelings of shame toward self-compassion and ‘whole-heartedness’.

Harriet Tubman said she would have freed more slaves if only they knew they were slaves!  Many of our ladies don’t recognize themselves as victims until much time has passed away from their predator.

When asked how they felt at CATCH court last Thursday, our amazing survivors can identify with the girls who were rescued in Cleveland last week:

happy grateful, blessed, confident, grateful to be back, anxious, tired, determined, uncertain, feels good, clean and sober, inspired to be there today, grateful, blessed, cautious, capable, stressed, relaxed, excited, blessed, blessed, anxious, very grateful, determined, fearful, inspired, anticipating, excited, blessed, excited, tired, irritable, excited, anxious, faithful, mixed emotions, worried, , desperate, hopeful, free…



Leaping and Inching with Faith December 21, 2010

Filed under: CATCH COURT REFLECTIONS — julieannclark @ 4:01 am

Every week in CATCH court, women tell their stories, say how many days they have been sober, discuss their lives, have all kinds of activities and talks and lessons. Like every week, last week love and peace were everywhere: women striding in their parade to hug a crying member, B.Y. saying this was the first Thanksgiving meal she could remember, V.A. saying to a sister, “Please, come to us when you start feeling the call of the street–we know it’s hard to call, but I’ll feel good if you call me. It’s not like, ‘Oh, let me call you back in ten minutes,’ none of that! Call us for anything. Call us when you get that first $40 gift card–we can teach you how to shop. Forty dollars goes a long way if you know how to shop!” She went on, “I was scared at first, because I’ve never gotten along with women. But now I have more women–more real friends–than ever before.”

G.G. is gearing up for culinary school, was jumping and blushing with excitement of her dream come true just as she’s turning 50. R.N.’s mom told R.N. that she loved her–this was the first time since childhood. M.Y. is getting her own apartment at the end of the week (the ladies done with in-house care live in a building together with separate apartments). G.G. attended the funeral of a biker friend. She said, “It was really nice, to be there, and to look around at all those people and think, ‘Oh God, I don’t miss this at all,'” and we all laughed with her.

And of course, Judge Herbert’s words are so full of love and kindness. He thanked the ladies for a book of poems and letters they had written and bound for him. He said, slowly and quietly, “That booklet is one of the most precious possessions in my life, and I know I will have it for the rest of my life.” He was going to take his dad out to dinner and show him the book. Judge introduced several people new to the courtroom–an intern, Judge Janet Jackson, the man who runs an Ohio rehabilitation program (“Oh, Talbott Hall!” Y.E. called out. “Hey, we frequent there, frequently!”). Chick Fil-A donated a yummy lunch.

Things do seem to slow down, settle in for the afternoon when the new women come, in shackles, to consider and be considered for CATCH. They shuffle in thin and sickly, in handcuffs and prison garb. Sometimes they’ll walk in with their heads bowed–that’s normal, then they’ll see the semicircle of strong survivors radiating out from the judge, they begin waving to see old friends from prison and the streets–have you ever seen a woman go to wave excitedly to an old friend, and suddenly remember she’s wearing handcuffs? They end up making little waves with both hands, like fast talking shadow puppets.

M.A. came in handcuffs last week, thin and tall and tomboyish, with a long silky cinnamon braid, amber freckles on an unturned nose. She held mouth mouth tight until she saw familiar faces, then she was all smiles, exclaiming “Oh!!” and “Hey!” and “I wondered what happened to you!” She then talked with the judge, that little woman standing under the big man with a robe and a hammer. The judge asked M.A. to “tell us why you think you’re ready.”

M.A. got serious, looked at him, around the courtroom, back to the ladies. She said, “Well, you’re in jail. You do dope, run and get more money, end up in jail–I just got out and I’m right back in. I’ve got 13 convictions and I’m 30 years old.”

The judge said, “Any special guys out there?” “Nothing I can’t get rid of,” she said.

The judge did his favorite thing–showing a girl a drawing of a man. When tilted on its side, the man’s face forms the word “Liar.” “If you’re in CATCH court,” he said, “We examine all your relationships, ok?” She nodded in that silent, just keep your head down and get it over with way. The judge invited the ladies of CATCH to speak.

B.E was bubbling over with excitement… “M.A., so good to see you! You are so intelligent, so talented and artistic.” M.A. was silent and G.G. added her encouragement, “I know you can get out and do such good things.”

M.A. just kept her head down until B.E. said, “M.A.? It’s me, B.–but you don’t know me as B., you know me as M.I..

Whoa did M.A.’s chin come up! Like staring happily at a ghost, “Oh my god,” M.A. said. “Oh—you look good! You look so good, I didn’t recognize you!” You could simply feel every CATCH woman resonate with those words and it’s true–they are the most luminescent women in Columbus, Ohio.

There are a million other little kind words from that day…B.Y. called CATCH court “a job with benefits,” there was a serious talk about how parenting out of guilt could result in relapsing. B.Y. was having a rough time one night, worrying she was going to relapse, and God whispered in her ear, “I didn’t get you this far for you to go do drugs again, you’ll be okay”. But her child, now 19, was born addicted to drugs, her mom feeling guilty and worried now in her sobriety. So she cried– but the hugs and encouragement came, rows of arms into a big group hug.

They leap and inch forward with such faith.