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Why The Word “Rescue” is Harmful to the Anti- Trafficking Movement

by | Jul 26, 2022

Imagine this, a fire is blazing, and firefighters are first to the scene to put out the flames. Or there’s a sudden medical emergency and paramedics arrive to administer life-saving techniques for the person in need. Or the police are called when someone is in danger and officers promptly come to handle the situation. What does it mean to be rescued?  By definition, rescue means to save someone from a dangerous or distressing situation. When a person is rescued, the general response is a celebration of the rescuer, the individual who showed heroism in a crisis and removed whomever from the dangerous situation; we elevate our hero for their commendable actions.

This is only one side of the crisis that has been eliminated, what about the side of the person rescued? The person who has been rescued will be left to handle the result of whatever crisis they were “saved” from. We can relate this to a person leaving the life of trafficking. We often hear organizations proclaiming they “rescue” survivors from the life. The reality is that leaving the life, or being pulled from the life of human trafficking is likely the easiest part of a survivor’s journey. Most survivors will face what seems like insurmountable barriers with little to no access to resources. Where is the rescuer then?

Struggling with homelessness, PTSD, drug and alcohol addiction, criminal records, lack of employment, lack of education, and a lack of, or dysfunctional family relationships, are just a few of the obstacles a survivor is faced with once they have left the life. It’s like a twister. The storm comes through and destroys whatever is in its path leaving behind mass destruction. Who is left picking up the debris, rebuilding homes, and restoring what was lost?  How does an individual pick themselves up after such tragedies? 

Being the “rescuer” is often the desired role in the anti-trafficking movement, but what is the real motive? Is it the self-recognition or the perceived admiration that comes with “rescuing” a person from a crisis that’s  the attraction? Whatever the motive is for rescuing, there’s still a need for continued care. Employment for a person carrying a criminal record will create financial security — emergency housing to avoid homelessness. There’s also a potential need for drug and alcohol treatment, vital mental health services, and access to medical treatment that has been neglected. Without accommodation, a survivor will inevitably be led back to the trafficker who has created a distorted perception of “safety”. Sadly, without access to resources like these, a person’s likelihood of being re-trafficked is 80%. Here at Rethreaded, 85% of survivors never return to the trade.

If these things are not a part of the effort, the “rescue” will fall short of the true goal, which is to help a survivor not only leave the life but continue on a path of successful reintegration into society. So how does the word “rescue” fit into the world of human trafficking? It doesn’t. Advocacy and support for those that have been trafficked can be called just that, advocacy and support. How does an individual pick themselves up after such tragedies? They don’t, but the community can. We work together to wrap around a person who has experienced trafficking and help them to elevate themselves by providing access to these types of resources. We all play our small role in a survivor’s journey. The first step to get involved in the anti-trafficking movement is pretty simple for someone who has never been involved; get educated. By visiting this link, you can become 100% human trafficking trained, learn precisely what human trafficking is, how to identify a person being trafficked, what to do when you have identified someone as being trafficked, and hear the survivor’s perspective. When the problem is fully defined, the solution is easier to see.

Ways You Can Support Rethreaded

If you’d like to make an immediate impact within our organization, here’s six things you can do today to renew hope, reignite dreams, and release potential for survivors of human trafficking.

1. Make A Purchase: Each purchase from Rethreaded directly impacts the life of a survivor and helps them gain skills, get job training, and goes directly towards their salary. All of our products are hand made by survivors. 

2. Corporate Gifting: Gifts of Hope are perfect gift boxes for clients, customers, employees, speakers, conference gifts, etc. Shop some classic box combinations or create your own! Customize colors, add logos, initials, and a personalized message to your gift. 

3. Donate: All donations go to providing access to counseling, mental health therapies, and wrap around care management services for survivors of human trafficking. No matter what your donation amount, know that you are leveraging your resources to make our community and the world a better and more healing place for survivors. 

4.  Become an Event Sponsor or Host: Many of our connections are made and much of our sales are created through the events we have, externally and internally. Sponsor a Rethreaded event and get marketing recognition and the social ROI for using your business for good; Or, host an event in our warehouse! We also bring pop-up shops and speak live with certain criteria. If you would like to become an event sponsor or host an event, email info@rethreaded.com

5. Join A Giving Circle: Our giving circles are volunteer-led groups founded by Rethreaded donors and supporters. We have two volunteer led group, Circle of Sister and Band of Brothers.

6. Volunteer: You can join the mission to help survivors of human trafficking by joining us during one of our work days. While we operate a little differently than most other nonprofits, we do welcome volunteers to join us on our mission.

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