There is a hashtag trend on twitter called #notyourrescueproject in response to Human Trafficking Awareness month that brings about a massive awareness to victims. Sex workers want to make sure that you know they are not victims, among other things. Here are some of the common tweet's I am seeing, and how that reflects on NGO's.
@RedLightChic..: Because it's not ok to declare someone a victim only so you can "rescue" them to make yourself feel better in the end. #notyourrescueproject
@FemWhore: #NotYourRescueProject because the only thing you really wanna rescue are your own feelings of inadequacy and guilt
Both tweets are a direct reflection of apathetic organizations that neglect to show true compassion. They also reveal the hearts of individuals in the field of restoration for the wrong reasons.
As the issue grows, we will see more and more bogus organizations raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for their own benefit. Crook's flock to wherever money can be made, and true hustlers can make you believe their heart is truly in it. This tweet is also a reflection of the individuals in this for selfish glorification. "I rescue women from the sex industry." We as organizations and leaders in the movement need to weed these people out because when the going get's tough these people won't truly be there, they corrupt the integrity of your organization or team, and when it comes to victim work, we need people in it for the long haul. Working with survivors is demanding and time consuming. There has never been a convenient time that I have been needed to support someone dealing with issues. 2AM calls are pretty normal, get use to it or get out.
@GlasgaeLauraLee: #notyourrescueproject because your moral code doesn't put food on my family's table...and she tweeted again just seconds later... My body, my choice. I want rights, not rescue
The first tweet. Is just sad. Tragic isn't even a strong enough word to describe a woman who has obviously not found proper resources or been failed by them and now feels like her only way to provide for her family is to sell her body. The mood of the first tweet is then compromised by the second with wanting more rights in the second tweet. This brings us to the massive debate of legalized prostitution that I can sum up pretty quickly. It does not work. Germany did it and the rate of child trafficking increased because it justified the act in the mind of the buyer. After a decade of legalized prostitution, human trafficking and violence against women has only dramatically increased. Concern for age is rarely a fleeting thought in most Johns' mind, make it legal and they surely won't think twice. It is a slippery slope and the truth is we all have rights. We have the right do anything we want, even if it is illegal. Making it legal does not make it a right, it just means that you won't go to jail for it. Anyone has the right to drive, but driving without a license will put your butt in jail too. The actual definition of a right goes a little like this: entitlement, morally good, justified, acceptable. In order to legalize prostitution you would somehow have to convince people that it is morally right, and acceptable thing to encourage their kids to sell their bodies for sex when they grow up. The reason why we have not been convinced of that yet is because it infringes on other important rights like physical, emotional, and mental safety as well as respect. It is no secret that the risk of a sex worker being beaten, rapped, kidnapped, or killed are significantly higher than any other profession. There have even been how to forums on how to avoid those things and many studies showing the rate of aging due to the stress of environment is significant. Given the evidence, it is hard to convince anyone that sex work is a good career path.
The second issue in this tweet is that of rescuing. You cannot "rescue" those who do not want it. Plain and simple. In the context of adolescents is different, because that alone constitutes as trafficking by federal law. Plus their brains are simply not developed enough to make that kind of decision. Either way, you cannot push someone, specifically those of us who have become incredibly strong and bullheaded from life, because it won't last.
@blk_bk: What do you think you are saving me from? Coz it ain't poverty, violence or crime #notyourrescueproject
This tweet is one that breaks my heart and has set a blaze under my feet to rally the troops to start working together and make a solid network across the nation. Many times, when we "rescue" survivors or empower people leave the sex trade we aren't able to always remove them from the environment that got them there or still harms them. It is the sad truth. If you are a child, you will probably be put back into foster care or the home that harmed you and if you are an adult well 'good luck' is kinda what happens. That is a huge point of failure on the NGO side and on behalf of everyone we have failed, I am truly and the most sincerely sorry. It angers me. Why "rescue" if we aren't going to actually help? Why start up an organization if you aren't going to partner to fill in the gaps and make what you are doing better by linking arms? There are plenty of people out there that want to help, but for some reason no one knows about them. Why? They are not a part of the community, and in communication with people of respect that will give them referrals. Don't expect to open up a safe house and instantly have your bed's full. Those of us who really care, are protective. We will not send girls just anywhere, and are incredibly cautious with who we associate with. We have a tight knit family and are highly respected among authority in this country because of that. Now, it is time these tight knit families link arms and create one great big family dedicated to the health and restoration of anyone who wants to leave the sex trade, victim or not.
@hopelesstwit... Step one: accept that #sextrafficking and #sexwork are NOT the same thing #NotYourRescueProject #listentosurvivors
Maybe this person is right. Yet there is one common denominator. Previous sexual abuse as a child. From what I and the trauma experts I studied under know, a foundation of undealt with trauma will not allow you to operate 100% in your adult self. It is no wonder victims of child sex abuse flock to the sex industry. They get to live out their trauma every day and try to process it, live in those false beliefs, and be what their abuser said they are rather then what they want to be, whether they are conscious of that or not, it is what many are doing. Everyone deserves healing from that.
Another thing I would like to add as a survivor. I get it. Who wants the label "victim." It sucks the life right out of you. I remember thinking; "No way, I am way too strong to be demeaned to THAT. I am not a victim nor will I ever be." I personally hate the word. Obviously the #notyourrescueproject peeps do too. Part of why I hated it was because it admits lack of control. Something happened that I had no or very little control over, and it drove me insane to even consider that. The nature of humans in general is that of choice. We must have options and we must have our say. If we don't we generally get angry and throw a fit until we are heart. It is part of having freedom. The freedom to do, be, and express. The word victim sucks all of that right out of you. I am not completely sure why there is such an uproar, but I keep seeing this "Don't call me a victim. Don't treat me like a victim. I am not a victim." theme across twitter more than anything. I can't help but wonder if that is why. It is like salt in a wound and causes people to lash out irrationally. I would assume that is what we are seeing here. The lack of acknowledgement of strength, dignity, and beauty. A right everyone deserves.
#NYRP is a method of expression of people's experiences. Something that I think relates and expresses what many of us deal with after trauma is Eminem's latest hit with Rihanna "Monster." This song is more than a good beat, but a story. Let's start with the lyrics.
"I'm friends with the monster that's under my bed.
Get along with the voices inside of my head.
You are trying to save me, stop holding your breath.
You think I'm crazy, yeah you think I'm crazy, well that's not fair."
I do not know that I could possibly express the haunting that is exploitation better than that. It is something we try to hide under our bed, but still lives. It speaks to us and we have learned to not only live with it, but accept it. We have discovered that it is easier to go along with it and not fight. It whispers and we lean in to hear. It is how it has always been, or been for too long. We are use to it, now it comforts us. The people around us that want to 'save' or 'rescue' us make us mad or terrified. The unknown is scarier than living in torment. We will not be pushed into it, so leave us alone. I feel like those last two lines express the tweet's I have seen from sex workers in the hashtag conversation #NotYourRescueProject. It is not fair to think someone is crazy for living in their situation, maybe even choosing it, unless you have been there yourself.
Well I have been there, and I have many friends who have been there too. Breaking up with the monster under my bed was the best thing I ever did. Kicking out all the voices clouding my mind was hard, but now I have freedom to be me. The strength and stubbornness that comes from living through such a thing will never fade. I am pretty sure I use the phrase "don't hold your breath" from time to time, but no one thinks I am crazy anymore. In fact, until I tell someone, no one would ever know about the monster under my bed. Stop being friends with the monster, and people will stop thinking you are crazy. If you need help breaking up with the Monster, please contact me. Not only does it take one to know one, it takes one to help one. Reach out, your strength is in numbers, not alone.