It is easy to think that human trafficking doesn’t happen in your neighborhood or community. But, tragically, it affects all of our communities – urban, suburban, and rural. January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and I ask that you join me and Greg as we work to raise awareness, protect the vulnerable, and put an end to this horrific crime once and for all.
Human trafficking, most simply put, is nothing more than modern-day slavery. Across Texas, thousands of people are exploited through forced labor or the sex trade. Human traffickers hold children, women, and men against their will, and attempt to destroy their individuality and strip away their dignity. They make their victims believe they are complicit in their own abuse. Some of these victims are sold as young girls and boys, sold as mere property.
As First Lady of Texas, one of my top priorities is working with communities and leaders across Texas to put an end to this heinous crime. There is much work still to be done to educate all Texans about the dangers faced by those who are most vulnerable in our families, our neighborhoods, and our communities. Thankfully, Texas has been a trailblazer, and is already a national leader, in the battle against human trafficking. Our GRACE (Governor’s Response Against Child Exploitation) initiative seeks to put an end to trafficking, protect those who are vulnerable, and help survivors heal and flourish by empowering diverse faith communities to collaborate in education, advocacy, prayer, and provision of resources. I am so proud of the critical work being done by the Child Sex Trafficking Team in the Office of the Governor; of all our state agencies, who are engaged in this battle each and every day; and of faith communities, advocacy organizations, and law enforcement professionals, who are helping raise awareness, promote healing, and secure justice.
I am especially proud of our survivor leaders who selflessly share their stories. More and more, we are recognizing exploitation for what it is, and we are not blaming survivors. Together, we are recognizing and recovering victims, holding abusers accountable and bringing justice for survivors, and moving upstream to protect children and prevent exploitation. The victims of human trafficking are not invisible if we look for the warning signs, if we act and report suspected abuse and exploitation, and if we serve survivors by walking alongside them as they find healing.
In the face of such evil, it would be easy to lose hope. But hope always remains. Now more than ever, as our world faces such challenges, we know how much community matters. It is so important that we embrace our communities and lift up those who are suffering, especially those who are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. I have no doubt that by joining together, the seeds of hope that we sow will grow and flourish.
Together, we can help end human trafficking, because nothing on this earth is more powerful than Texans helping Texans.
Learn more about how to prevent trafficking >