It’s FRONT LINE FRIDAY!
I have the privilege of introducing you to Anne Kerr, founder and president of TrueNorth Freedom Project.
I met Anne in 2010 when we were both just getting our feet wet in the anti trafficking movement. She was a volunteer with Not For Sale. From there she went on to be director of Out of Darkness for a season and since then, she’s been called to tackle the demand side of the issue. You’re going to love getting to know Anne.
Let’s get started:
When did you first hear about the issue of sex trafficking?
In 2009, my daughter wrote a paper on it and explained it to me.
How long have you been in the fight?
I’ve been in the fight for 5 years.
How and were did you first step into the fight?
I volunteered with Not For Sale Georgia. I did this for a while and was then hired as Executive Director for Out of Darkness where I worked for two years before starting TrueNorth Freedom Project.
Do you work directly with survivors?
No, TrueNorth is going upstream to deal with root causes that perpetuate sex trafficking, starting with pornography.
What is the hardest part of what you do?
I think the hardest part is getting the message just right. Pornography is pervasive and in many circles widely accepted in our society. To help people find the connections and realize it is the breeding ground for buyers of sex, is not easy. It is very taboo to talk about it, especially in the Christian church, where statistically two out of three men and 15% of women are regular porn users.
What is the greatest blessing for you in your work?
Hearing stories of people who have found freedom from pornography and are willing to speak out to help others.
What do you feel is the weak link in the fight against sex trafficking?
Too many of us want to say it is them and not us who keep it going. While that may be true literally, we are all complicit when we turn our backs on the issue, or we won’t talk about pornography use, or we ignore the fact that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday. We have to stop the abuse and the sex trafficking that porn is fueling.
What role do you feel pornography plays in sex trafficking?
Oh, wow, how much time do you have? Buyers feed on pornography and often seek someone in prostitution (or someone to abuse) to get their escalating desires met. In porn boys and girls (under age) find an outlet that can, over time, lead to much riskier behavior. Many boys become men who buy; many girls become promiscuous and may end up prostituting.
Traffickers use porn to desensitize more naive victims such as children, teaching them what to do through porn. All child porn is verified child sexual abuse as they are too young to consent. Accounts from many who have come out of the porn industry tell of being forced to engage in sex for porn videos and even accounts of trafficked individuals who were filmed and then threatened by their traffickers that the material would be widely distributed if they told anyone. There are so many connections it is hard to believe anyone could say that pornography is victimless. There are many victims and it is incredibly harmful to our society.
What studies stand out to you the most about the issue?
The Urban League study of the underground sex trade in eight US cities completed in 2014, which found Atlanta to generate about $290 million per year. Also, a 2014 Barna group research project funded by Proven Men on porn use.
What steps do you feel need to be taken on the state level?
Get the truth about pornpgraphy into the sex education classes all over this state for both boys and girls. Get counselors in the schools to help the ones who are addicted. Don’t allow cell phones in school. Create a John School or similar approach to educate men better.
Like Great Britain, make pornography something that you have to pay for on your internet, a subscription. Keep it off the airwaves and internet for the general population.
What is one of the greatest things you’ve seen in this fight since you’ve been a part of it?
Awareness about trafficking has paved the way to a discussion about root causes, such as pornography. We have a long way to go, but it is worth it.
Have you learned of any commonalities among purchasers?
There are very few commonalities among purchasers besides pornography use. They come from every demographic, every age, socioeconomic level, education level, etc. Some of the most egregious cases I have heard of involve family members among poorer communities. Purchasers are in need of rescue too; and in fact, if we could rescue more of them, and help today’s kids grow up to be adults who would never purchase, we could end sex trafficking even sooner.
If you could only share one thing with readers about this fight, what would it be?
We live in a highly sexualized culture. Keeping our heads in the sand doesn’t help. Engage with your kids, learn what they know, there are so many dangers out there, but most parents are oblivious, so children hook up over the internet and then go missing. Others show their bodies over text and it gets spread around the country. Teach your children sexuality is precious. God’s design is best. Learn His ways and promote and model purity. TrueNorth Freedom Project is helping to equip individuals and ministries with the tools they need to navigate this sex-saturated culture.
If you could address an auditorium full of teenagers, what would you say to them about this issue?
You can end sex trafficking in your lifetime. Commit to getting help with your porn addition. You’re not alone and there is hope.
As you can see, Anne is very passionate and knowledgeable about this issue. I could have gone on and on with her interview due to the wealth of information she carries.
If you have had your heart pricked by what she shared today and are interested in learning more, please check out there website here. Follow them on Facebook here. If you would like to support their work financially, you can donate here.
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