Sex trafficking in the U.S. is a serious problem, and its victims need the loving support that the Catholic Church can give, says Candace Wheeler, founder of the Washington, D.C.-based Restoration Ministries, which seeks to bring Christ’s love and aid to victims of sex trafficking.
“We need to get people to pay attention to the plight of American girls,” said Candace Wheeler, “These girls need the body of Christ, and the body of Christ needs them.”
People often assume that women and children who are trafficked “choose to be there” and have “written them off,” saying that “they’re bad girls, they’re runaways and throwaways,” she added. However, many of the girls at risk for sex trafficking are from broken homes or the foster system, and were violated at a young age. These girls “are easy prey” because “by the time she’s 11 or 12, traffickers can just spot a girl who has no self-worth.”
Escaping from the “mindset” of trafficking and abuse is difficult, requiring both consistency and an understanding of what normalcy is. Restoration Ministries works to identify victims of trafficking, going regularly into prisons and mental institutions, where victims of sex trafficking are often held, in order to build relationships with people. From there, Restoration Ministries works to intervene in current cases of trafficking and prevent future cases.
Ultimately, fighting sex trafficking requires a big-picture, cooperative approach. Despite challenges, Wheeler remains hopeful. She said the Church has come together to help trafficking victims in recent years. “We don’t need government money, and they don’t really have any anyway,” she said, calling for religious and church communities to “really come together and be strategic,” while at the same time offering up “prayer and fasting” to aid victims of sex trafficking and eliminate its root causes in the U.S.
Learn more at Adelaide Mena’s Catholic News Agency article: Victims of sex trafficking need Church community, group says.