She is the loner in high school. She sleeps during class, smells weird, and always talks about him. Yes, surprisingly she has a boyfriend. This mystery man is typically the topic of choice because he is handsome, wealthy, charming, and much older.
Her man the provider.
He was the one that took notice when she left her house to escape the violence. He was the one who told her she was beautiful even though she didn't see it in herself. He showered her with expensive clothes, the latest iPhone, and dreams of a life full of happy endings. Unlike others he was always there. While sometimes he could let his anger get the best of him and be a tad controlling, she knew not everyone is perfect, and sometimes you have to make sacrifices for those you love. So when he proposed a once in a lifetime opportunity she was all in!
Little did she know, the life she would soon encounter would be full of violence, extreme control, and slavery.
Often times middle and high school students are put in situations like this. We all tend to look at the good things each person has to offer and may choose ignore negative signs that could put us at risk.
Red Flag Week gives us all a great opportunity to talk about some of the signs of a person who is being trafficked or being prepared to be trafficked. This student was facing a tough situation at home and as a result began dating a significantly older man. While at times he appeared to control her, she trusted him because he was the only one who affirmed her with gifts and compliments.
It is easy to think that we may never fall into these traps. However, it is important to remember what this student was looking for. Just like you and me, she searched for a sense of belonging in her community.
So let's use this week as an opportunity to define our own value and self worth. Let's all take time to explore characteristics we like about ourselves and educate our community on the signs of trafficking!
What are your thoughts on some of these flags? Did any other flags stick out to you?