Sex trafficking is a life shattering form of slavery, according to Mercy Ministries Founder and President Nancy Alcorn. Mercy Ministries is a non-profit organization based in Nashville, Tennessee, currently serving girls aged 13-28 with residential programs in four states, and land committed for two future homes in North Carolina and Florida.
Imagine being raped and beaten daily, hidden from your family and treated as little more than chattel for months-even years. A University of Pennsylvania study (2001) estimated 300,000 children nationwide were at risk of falling victim to some sort of sexual exploitation.
For hundreds of thousands of young girls and women right here in the U.S., this is a harsh reality, reports Mercy Ministries’ Alcorn, citing an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution which reported that Atlanta was a hub for child prostitution, and that the targeting of pimps by politicians and the courts did little to slow the child trade.
It’s hard to believe that this is a reality right here in the United States, but sex trafficking and related crimes are growing at an alarming rate, according to the Chennai Children Foundation. Mercy Ministries founder Nancy Alcorn estimates that over a million children worldwide are used as human sex slaves each year, a statistic that is backed up by other national non-profit organizations and reports that many of these girls know no other way of life. The founder of Mercy Ministries has worked for almost 30 years to help young women struggling with issues like self-harming, sexual abuse, eating disorders and unplanned pregnancies.
Mercy Ministries’ Alcorn says that identifying victims is the first step in allowing them to heal. Once victims of sex trafficking are free from the physical grasp of their perpetrators they may have nowhere to turn. That is where organizations like Mercy Ministries can help. Mercy Ministries provides a safe place for these young women to heal, using a multi-dimensional counseling approach that includes Christian principles and teachings to treat the whole person, not just bandage the wounds.
According to the non-profit Polaris Project, an organization dedicated to combating human trafficking and modern-day slavery, victims of sex trafficking crimes may exhibit unusual behavior symptoms including:
- · Drug/alcohol use or abuse
- · Inability to hold eye contact
- · Marked nervousness, especially around law enforcement
- · Never being allowed in public alone
- · Inability to socialize due to controlling “partner”
- · Non-English natives may only know and understand sexually oriented words in English
- · Poor health and/hygiene
- · Multiple STDs
- · Living in an overly secure home with frequent visitors
- · Present with obvious signs of abuse but deny it or make excuses for bruising, scars and ligature marks
Take five minutes to learn what you can do. Also, if someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, submit a report 24/7 by calling the Department of Homeland Security at 866-347-2423. Let’s work together to stop this horrific crime.