store aisleDo you know how to avoid being a victim? In an earlier post I shared the story of how a friend of mine was targeted by a man as a possible victim. He lurked throughout the Dollar General, basically casing her to see if he liked her and to determine how he would obtain her.

This morning I received a comment from Mary and she asked what would have happened if my friend hadn’t said, “NO!” to the man. How would the scenario have likely played out?

This crime isn’t a respecter of persons. It impacts every demographic imaginable. I’ve met victims from all walks of life: black, white, Hispanic, poor, middle class, wealthy, young and old. Because the human trafficking industry is a $32 billion dollar a year industry, perpetrators aren’t picky about their girls. They don’t view girls/women as people, rather ATMs and all that concerns them is the money they can make.

Well one thing you don’t need to do is assume the devil is under every rock and behind every door you pass. You’ll become narcotic and a captive in a cell of your own making. 1 Peter 5:8 says,

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” [Emphasis mine]

Being alert is incredibly important. Unfortunately, with cell phones, many people have their focus on their fingers instead of on what is going on around them. When you aren’t alert, you instantly become an easier target for any crime, especially trafficking.

Self controlled is the word nepho and it means:

1) to be sober, to be calm and collected in spirit 2) to be temperate, dispassionate, circumspect.

Basically, it means don’t freak out. When you do, you don’t think clearly and clear thinking is critically important in situations like these. Assess the situation and weigh your options. If someone finds themselves in a situation similar to my friend in Dollar General:

  1. Draw attention to yourself by talking loudly or making a scene. Anything you can do to cause others to stop and look at you will also, in turn, draw attention to your potential perpetrator, causing him/her to leave the scene. They don’t want to be easily identified and when a store full of people are looking at them, the probability exists.
  2. Determine all possible exits. Make sure wherever you flee won’t lead you to a dead end, giving you nowhere to turn.
  3. Use your cell phone in your favor. Take a picture of the perpetrator and send it to a family member, friend, 911 or the Polaris National Human Trafficking Hotline, 233733 [BeFree]. Be sure to text your name, the name of the store you’re in, and the address or as close to it as you can get. That way if you are taken, authorities will have a lead.
  4. Call 911 and describe the individual you think is targeting you, telling the police he is making you uneasy and do so loud enough for him and others to hear you. Ask them to send an officer to the store. Wait in the store for the officer to arrive and have him/her escort you to your car.
  5. One thing my friend said she did was make sure the potential perpetrator was never behind her. She kept tabs on his location at all times to ensure he couldn’t grab her from behind with a weapon and force her out of the store.

These are just some suggestions for this scenario. Each scenario is different. Talk with your teen about various scenarios and how they would get out of the situation. You cannot possibly plan for each and every situation; however, if you’ve talked through options and ways to avoid being taken, then they are more likely to be alert, remain calm and focused if faced with a situation. It’s the same principle as running a fire drill. If you’ve thought through it and even practiced it, if or when a crisis arises, you’ll have an idea of what to do.

Do you have further suggestions of things someone could do in a similar situation? Please share them here. The more ideas we have the better. It’s like adding another tool to your tool belt.

*Next week is spring break for our school system, so I am taking the week off to spend with my family. I’ll meet you back here on Monday, April 7th. Enjoy your week!