This past week I attended the National Coalition on Sexual Exploitation Global Summit in DC. This summit saw over 600 leaders and activists from around the world pour into the DC area and learn from, support, and partner with each other, as well as, collaboratively and strategically fight to bring awareness and an end to the sexual exploitation of any human being through various NGO’s and programs as varied as we are as humans.
It was so beautiful and hopeful to be among so many others who are fighting this good fight and as Dawn Hawkins, CEO and Executive Director of NCOSE stated, “Sometimes it can feel lonely fighting this fight. It can feel as if you’re the only one, but that’s one of the reasons we host this event, so we can all see each other and know we are not alone.”
Indeed, we are not alone. In the last decade of fighting this fight I’ve used this analogy in the sermons and speaking engagements I’ve done, “When you drop a small rock in a still lake it makes a ripple effect. Change happens, but they are small changes. However, when you back a dump truck up to that lake and dump a truckful of rocks into that same body of water, it makes a tsunami of waves all around it. Change happens and that change even changes the landscape around it.”
That’s what collaborative efforts do. Partnerships work in beautiful synergy with each other and we will begin to see the landscape change around us. We are seeing change around us already!
At the event I heard many speakers, most of the information I already knew, but some statements reiterate why our team fights for the freedom of every human being. Here are some quotes from the summit,
“In 2018 the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Internet tip line received 18.5 million tips of child exploitation.”
“Pornography is filmed prostitution.”
or this comment from Melissa Holland, Executive Director of Awaken in Las Vegas,
“If a daughter is being sexually abused by mom’s boyfriend and that daughter tells her mom and the mother responds with, “You must be wrong. He didn’t do that. No harm has been done.” that is what legalizing prostitution is doing. It’s society telling those being prostituted, “No harm is being done. Everything is okay.”
or this very sad statement made by a panel member, confirmed by the other panel members,
“I do not know one single person who has been exploited who was NOT sexually abused as a child.”
I met advocates, healers and restorers, survivors, owners and executive directors, support staff/volunteers, and those whom are very educated and those who have only a high school degree or less – and in this setting, it mattered not what you had/have – we were/are all advocats, activists, and abolitionists working in synergy, making new friendships and creating new partnerships.
If you have a chance to go next year, I would really encourage you. If you purchase your tickets now, before June 30th, you will receive a 50% discount.
These are just a few of the ladies I met – all survivors, except one press member. The stories these ladies have are utterly heartbreaking, yet they are using those stories to bring healing, restoration, change, and hope. Thank you ladies. It’s an honor to now call you friend.
These final photos are of a large group of us lobbying on Capitol Hill to #endexploitation in its various forms and one of me.
I heard a quote recently from Sarah, one of the staff members at Amirah House, Massachusetts’ first safehouse for trafficking survivors, and I loved it.
“Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.”― Thomas Merton