For many Unitarian Universalists for whom human trafficking seemed a distant issue before this week, it has now come disturbingly close. A Unitarian Universalist minister who was widely admired and respected was arrested on multiple child pornography charges, which he is not contesting.
The story will no doubt continue to unfold. In the meantime, we want to say simply this:
In our congregations, there are people who have survived commercial sexual exploitation of children and/or other forms of human trafficking. Some of us have just learned, painfully, that perpetrators are among us too; that is a reality that survivors have known, and must deal with within our UU communities. We are committed to making our communities safe for survivors to be their whole selves, and the first, crucial step is acknowledging their presence. The next is to educate ourselves about human trafficking. If we don’t do the deep work of really understanding this issue, we end up creating yet another space that is safe for perpetrators and unsafe for survivors.
If the news is re-awakening traumatic memories for you, and you need to talk to someone who is trained in crisis care, understands the emotional issues involved in human trafficking, and is bound by high ethical standards, call our helpline: 650-665-9891. It’s a “warmline,” checked frequently with a commitment to respond to callers within a few hours.
(If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911; if you are in, or observe, a situation that appears to be human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888.)