I sit across from my dear friend as he pours out his heart to me about his pornography addiction and the paths it has taken him. We both sit with tears streaming down our faces, knowing how strange it is that he is telling me this but also amazed at the grace found for each other in this moment. My friend is broken. The shame and isolation have basically shut his heart down and he has become a shell of the man I know he is created to be. And he feels so alone because there are few people who will walk with him through this battle he feels like he is fighting on his own.
I don’t think my friend’s story is an isolated one. In fact, I have heard similar stories multiple times. Men doing what they don’t want to do, even if they know it’s harmful to themselves, their relationships, and the women involved. But it’s also these men that I have sat with that choose to be broken over their entanglement with shame, and try to find their way out that has softened my heart to the struggle men face.
When I worked in Calcutta, India I saw some of the worst in men. I was faced daily with personal assaults on my body. I was witness to an industry where 10,000 women were bought on a daily basis from over 60,000 men. I saw what happens when humans prioritize profit over the value of a human life. I work with women on a daily basis who have been exploited by men.
But I have also seen men be shrouded in shame to the point where their heart feels nothing. Or men who take themselves out of the fight against human trafficking because they sometime struggle with lust. Or share their story with me on how they ended up buying sex and feel worthless.
And I find that a lot of men are in the same need of forgiveness, grace, and community that our survivors at Rethreaded need…that we all need.
And I always come back to the fact that Human Trafficking is an us issue, not a woman’s issue. Women will never stop this issue by ourselves. Some days at Rethreaded I feel like we are giving a woman freedom, all the while knowing that another woman will be trafficked to take her place unless we do something about demand.
We need men in the fight. We need men to stand alongside their brothers in their brokenness before they go too far into the darkness. We need to walk men out of this shame and into a new way to deal with life. And don’t hear me wrong, I do think that men should be held accountable for their actions. That men buying women and children should have strong consequences. But until we get men involved in this fight I think we will continue to see the problem exist.
(Three Rethreaded advocates discuss how they can make an impact and influence other men)
As a man you can:
- If you are entangled in any type of these activities please seek help.
- Confide in and trust friends who will help you.
- Be aware of your language toward women and girls – if it feels inappropriate, it is… don’t say it. Read more about the impact of language here.
- Model to your daughter and sons what it means to respect women.
- Join Rethreaded in our fight to give women freedom – buy gifts for the women in your life here.
And above all,
Be who you were created to be. Don’t let shame steal from you what you have to offer this world.
With much Hope,
This blog is part of our Empowering Men to Make a Difference blog series. To learn more, check out the rest of the series.