christian counseling

How I’ve experienced the “Sound of Freedom”…

To be honest, when I first heard of this movie, I thought…hmm, “Do I want to go watch a movie about something that I deal with regularly? Do I want to watch something that may not portray sex trafficking correctly? etc..”

However, I’m so glad I went to see it because it reminded me why I work in the space of helping victims, why I advocate for those who are rescuing and helping victims, and why I love being a part of preventing the problem for as many as possible.

So, I’ve decided to do a new blog series by the same name of the movie, which by the way is a must-watch. Go and take everyone you possibly can with you!

Many times, I’ve been asked how I became involved in the work of sex trafficking intervention and intervention, and honestly, I think it started with doctoral studies. Prior to my studies and in turn research, I saw clients in private practice as a counselor who had been a part of sex trafficking in one way or another (yes sadly, I was ordered to see a guy who has been a part of distributing child porn- which was not fun or easy as I honestly wanted to just punch him in the face), but my interest and desire to do more truly started around 2016.

I had this amazing professor who I initially had a love/hate relationship with who did a ton of research in the area of pornography. He had a desire to shed light on the immense problem it has become in the church. He wasn’t a counselor, but rather an expert statistician and he had a great reputation for helping students complete their dissertations so he was my choice. This choice meant I may have to research something he had an interest in, which ultimately led to me researching school counselors (since I had been one previously) and their experiences with how pornography impacted students (sexting, distribution of images of self/others, students looking is up during school, etc.) This led to me learning so many disturbing facts and finding some interesting findings. One, in particular, is that 1/3 of the internet is pornography. Think about this and imagine the rabbit holes your mind can go down….Imagine the money, the business, the darkness…this is how my research began…

When someone completes a dissertation, which is basically writing a book, researching a topic for years, and becoming somewhat of an expert in an area, it is published for others to read. Of course, I thought no one would ever be bored enough to read it. Shockingly enough, a local detective read it and told the local DA about it which led to a meeting. This meeting led to a friendship and an appointment on the county human trafficking task force….The story just keeps getting better so tune in soon for the unfolding of the rest of the story…

In conclusion, I’ll say this week’s sound of freedom for me was a professor’s voice telling me that research can make a difference in the lives of others. I have always wanted to make a difference in the world and my parents always allowed me to believe that I could so I try daily. One major thing I have learned is that if you simply say “yes” to God each day, one “yes” leads to another and another and before you know it, you have gotten the chance to be a part of some amazing good work that overcomes evil!

Say yes today to one small thing and keep saying yes,

Dr. Natalie

By Natalie Atwell Counseling

Dr. Natalie Atwell is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Supervisor in NC and a Board Certified Professional Christian Counselor. She values being transparent, honest, knowing when to be silly and when not to be silly (which isn't that often) and thinks laughter is a gift from God.

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