One of the most common questions asked about human trafficking victims is “Why didn’t they just leave?” This is especially true of victims in the U.S., where our legal and social systems are meant to facilitate identification, protection, and services for trafficking victims and to bring traffickers to justice. But the fact of the matter is, trafficking victims can’t leave for a number of reasons that may not be obvious at first.

1. They are locked up: While most slavery does not rely on physical chains, some trafficking victims are confined physically by being locked into rooms, chained to beds, held in heavily fenced or guarded compounds or locked in trunks of cars. Frequently when victims leave the place they are kept, they are guarded and their movement is limited.

2. They don’t know where they are: Victims are also often frequently moved between countries or within a country to prevent them from becoming familiar enough with their surroundings to escape. Many trafficking victims have reported not knowing which city or country they were in, making escape almost impossible.

3. They’ve been beaten or raped for trying to leave: Attempts by victims to leave may result in severe physical violence including beatings and torture, as well as rape and sexual assault. Even when no actual violence has taken place, traffickers use threats of violence, rape and death against the victim and the victim’s family.

4. They distrust the authorities: Since traffickers are often victims’ only source of information, they can tell victims that law enforcement and service providers will arrest, deport, or hurt them. Victims may have bad past experiences with law enforcement in their home country or region, or even in a previous trafficking situation. This fear may make victims reluctant to seek help from law enforcement or cooperate with an investigation.

5. They are ashamed: Victims from all cultures and in both sex and labor cases may be profoundly ashamed about their victimization. Constant denigration, psychological manipulation and violence can cause victims blame themselves for being forced or tricked into a their current situation, and make them reluctant to try and contact family or friends.

6. They are too traumatized: Trauma can manifest in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, social withdrawal, anxiety disorders, or suicidal tendencies. Victims may find the situation hopeless or withdraw all together as a coping mechanism.

7. They have bonded with the trafficker: Stockholm syndrome, or forming strong emotional bonds with a captor or abuser, is not rare in trafficking victims. Over a long period of time the exploitation a victim experiences may become normalized and internalized, allowing them to bond further with their abuser.

8. They are addicted to drugs or alcohol: Traffickers have forced or supplied their victims with drugs and alcohol in order to facilitate an addiction and create a further dependency on the trafficker, for either the substance or money. Victims will also sometimes use substances to self-medicate and treat the depression and trauma caused by their exploitation.

9. They don’t know help is available: Trafficking victims may not know what has happened to them is illegal, and if they do, may not know that anyone can help. Traffickers often tell victims there is no safety net, and that they will not receive any assistance from the government if they leave.

10. They have nowhere to go: Victims may have already been rejected by their families or fear that rejection if they return home after trafficking. The trafficker may have told them that their family no longer wants them, and that they have no place to go besides with the trafficker.

While these are only some of the reason victims don’t leave, they provide important information to understand the dymanics of trafficking and how to find and help trafficked persons.



“give me your eyes for just one second, give me your eyes so I can see, everything that I’ve been missing, give me your love for humanity, give me your arms for the brokenhearted, the one’s far beyond my reach, give me your heart for the one’s forgotten, give me your eyes so I can see…”

I thought about that song a lot over the past two weeks. I think it is such a beautiful song and fits very well with things that I have seen these past weeks. I know a lot of you have been asking how the trip went and want to hear all about it but since it is hard to get to everyone because I accidently left my phone charger in one of the hotels and now my phone is dead until I can get a new one, I thought that I would write down my journal entries from the trip so you guys could get an idea of what happened in Cambodia. It might be hard to follow because thats who I am and how I write sometimes 🙂 but bare with me 🙂 I definitely can’t wait to talk to each of you about the trip but this will have to do until then… sorry 🙂

May 7
Today was our first actual day in Cambodia. I was excited about going out and seeing the country. Our first stop was IJM and it was amazing! You know it is one thing to hear and read about it but to actually be able to go and see first hand the place that is trying to end injustice here is amazing! I absolutely love the fact that they train the citizens of the country to go out and do what IJM is doing. They basically train themselves out of a job. Its like the saying “give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” The market was an experience that I have never been through before. I have a hard time at home not giving homeless people food when I see them so having to tell the beggers no was extremely hard. I honestly just wanted to get back on the bus, I felt so closterphobic (sp?) Going to the market completely removed me from my comfort zone. Now that I look back on it I am happy that I was able to experience it, no matter how hard and uncomfortable it was for me. The rest of the day was hard, emotionally, for me. S21 and The Killing Fields were indescribable. What broke my heart the most was seeing the children’s pictures and the tree that children were killed at. The Khmer Rouge saw the people they killed as enemies and spies, how could they believe that little innocent children were enemies of the government?! They looked so scared and sad. Even though they are long gone I wanted to grab those children and get them out of there! I was literally sick to my stomach seeing their pictures and the tree where they were killed. The little girl outside of The Killing Fields pushed me over the edge to the point that I cried most of the way back to the hotel. She asked Kenny for some “yum yum” which we were told by Stephanie Freed means sex (later on in the trip we figured out that it could also mean food. I hope she meant food!) She looked like she was maybe 5 years old. In the bus people were saying that maybe she heard that from somewhere and that she didn’t know what she was saying but I think she did. I don’t think children here are as niave as children are in America. It broke my heart also that a lot of them were asking for water! They are sent out to beg for money and not even given water!

May 8
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after ORPHANS and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27
We went to the Rapha House today and finally met the girls. They are so full of life and beautiful which breaks my heart because of knowing where they were and what they were forced to do. It makes me sick! In all my life I will never understand what would possess a parent to sell their child to a man so he can, or he can get other men to do unspeakable and disgusting things to her. Though I have a really hard time admitting it I need to realize that Jesus died for them too and God has a plan and purpose for them, even though they don’t know and maybe never know it. I also need to realize that these people need to see the love of Jesus too and need to be saved and baptised so they can enter the Kingdom. I have a hard time thinking about that. The sinner in me just wants those people to die and spend eternity in Hell for what they have done to those girls but the spirit of God is telling me that they deserve to know Him just as much as I did.
“What shall we conclude then? Are we not any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.” Romans 3:9

May 9
We took the girls to the pool today. It is rare that they go because there is a charge to swim there so I am happy that we were able to pay for them to go. One of the girls tried to teach me Khemi (the language spoken there) I was not doing so well remembering the correct way of saying the words. She just laughed and told me what the word was (I now know a few, but they were the real easy ones. haha!) I loved playing Marco Polo and who can stay under the longest. Today was beautiful! But we got back to the hotel and it started pouring. The streets were flooded and we weren’t able to go the the Rapha House to have devos with the girls. That was dissapointing but I am happy we got to spend the afternoon with them. I am so happy we are able to be apart of them getting their childhood back and just be able to be silly and be kids! God is so good!

May 10
Today is Sunday and we went to church. It was the best church service I have ever been to! Hearing God being praised in a completely different language was awesome! We also went to cell groups that the girls are a part of, it looked like it was going to rain again so we just went to one. It was fun playing 4 corners with them at the end! Just when I think that the days can’t get any better they do! I love just playing with these girls and acting silly to make them laugh! *sigh* all I can say is God is awesome! I want so much for these girls! I pray they know how special and beautiful they are in God’s eyes. They are worth so much more then what someone would sell them for.
“The king is enthralled by your beauty…” Psalm 45:11

May 11
Toay was our last day with the Rapha House staff and girls. First we lead workshops for the staff at Rapha to help them be more loving toward one another. There were some issues in the past of people thinking they were better than others. I think the workshops went well and trhe people who spoke did an amazing job at keeping the staff’s attention. After that we went and got our hair and nails done by girls from Rapha. That was awesome! I got my hair washed and she did such an amazing job. After that it was off to hang out with the girls one last time. I had a blast! I love those girls and loved making them laugh. I am going to miss them a lot!

May 12
Today was our first day in Siem Rep. This city is very tourist oriented. We went to the market which was fun because I was able to get the last bit of gift shopping done. After that we went to Angkor Wat. It was really cool looking. It was hard saying no to the kids selling things in front. I hate that! It is so sad to me that that is what those kids have to do. Not once did I see any sort of parental figure around. They were so smart too. They knew more about America then I do. Once we got back we went to the night market. It was okay. I enjoyed just walking around with Carly, Kenny, and Dave. I was so tired that I was getting cranky so I was ready to leave when we went to eat and we hadn’t even been over to the market side yet. I think that it was the fact that we weren’t with the girls anymore and I felt like just another tourist.

May 13
Today was our last day in Cambodia. We went back to Angkor Wat to see more of the temples and ruins. It was okay but I just feel so tourist-y now. I love this country and it’s people! One thing about today that I am happy about is that I felt like I was such a jerk to the kids yesterday outside of Angkor Wat so today I made sure that I wasn’t. That of course meant that I had to buy things but I don’t mind. I have 3 bracelets that are cool and unique looking, but most importantly I was able to make some of the kids smile.

These are just some of the experiences that I had in Cambodia. There is more to tell but until then please read and continue to pray for that country and it’s people. 🙂 thanks for all your support and prayers and thanks for reading 🙂