If you are a survivor of human trafficking or a survivor of any trauma, we want you to know that you are not alone, and there is safety and support in our UU community. We want to be there for you. Some survivors have shared with us the difficulty of being open with their congregations or ministers about their experience. We are committed to being a resource and trainer of our congregations and their leaders so that they know how best to support you.
The following statement from two survivors of commercial sexual exploitation was read at General Assembly 2012. At their request, it was read by Rev. Kathleen Rolenz of West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Rocky River, Ohio.
We are two adult women, both raised in middle class homes, both white, and both active in the lives of our UU congregations. We also both experienced modern slavery in the context of commercial sexual exploitation when we were children and teens. One of us was commercially sexually exploited by my family and came to my UU faith in adulthood. One of us was raised UU, in a loving home, attended About Your Sexuality classes (predecessor to OWL), and was taken into commercial sexual exploitation by an adult my family trusted. Both of us were sexually exploited, tortured, and were not free to leave, all for the profit of others.
We want to thank you for this chance to tell our story here at General Assembly. Our trauma left us feeling profoundly disconnected from humanity, which is fundamentally a spiritual wound. What we have sought and feel so many trauma survivors seek, is witnessing, acceptance and a compassionate presence. This can be part of our social justice work UUs can offer as a spiritual community. The two of us have experienced great solace from our UU faith, but we have also felt at times deeply excluded. As UUs and survivors of modern slavery, we know that slavery isn’t only something that affects people outside our denomination. Too often, we have felt that theologically, trauma and horror is framed as something that UUs stand apart from, that we learn about and study but don’t experience.
If you or someone you know is in danger, the National Human Trafficking hotline is 1-888-373-7888. Although our organization doesn’t offer pastoral counseling, we can help connect you with resources within our denomination. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a way we can help.