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Sound of freedom continued

If you didn’t read my previous post, go back and read it first. This post is a continuation of my story of experiencing the sound of freedom related to human trafficking.

Continuing from last week, the first sound of freedom for me was the sound of my professor’s voice. He taught me that research matters. One of the things the film did well was mentioning some of the statistics surrounding the “business” of trafficking. Human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. Humans can be used over and over while drugs cannot so in essence is it more lucrative from a monetary standpoint. Statistics and research on these matters are important although dark.

When I met my friend the DA, I will never forget what she told me when I asked her how she could prosecute sex offenders for over 25 years. She said to me, “Natalie, God asked me to go into the fiery furnace but he promised that I would not be alone and that I wouldn’t get burned or even smell like fire, just like Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego.” I knew we’d be friends for a long time once she said that…

Her voice was likely the next sound I experienced on the freedom journey for the battle again human trafficking. She is very passionate about putting away bad guys and I love her for it. Since the time we met, I have been honored to serve alongside her with many other community partners, agencies, leaders, etc to discuss ways we can combat human trafficking in our area. One of the things we talk about often is that in a nice suburb, many people do not think that it happens or they simply want to not think about it. Thankfully, part of our work is educating the public.

Knowledge is truly power. I cannot protect my kids from everything, but I can work extremely hard to prepare them. Honestly, mine probably get tired of hearing “Remember not to talk to strangers online. I’m monitoring you. I don’t care if others’ parents allow them to ….., etc.” but because I know, I have to prepare my kids and part of that is discussing difficult and uncomfortable topics with them. As I often say, you do nto want your kids to use “Google” as their educator, If you talk often to your kids, they will know they can come to you to ask. You also do not want your kids to need attention or affirmation from strangers online, so make sure you are giving them adequate attention and affirmation often.

In conclusion, I’ll tie this all together by sharing with you one of the most startling statistics I found in my research and that was that adolescents whose fathers worked many hours away from home were one of the highest groups at-risk in the US. Think about this….Our kids may not act like they want or need us still, but they do!

Spend more time with your family today,

Dr. Atwell

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

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Somebody’s watching you

Listen, learn, and share this episode with everyone you know! There is a message in it for everyone regarding human trafficking. It is not scary, but encourages us all to make positive steps to make a difference in our communities.