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Stories From the Safe House

Lantern Rescue / Lantern Rescue
The Truth Network Radio
August 13, 2022 12:00 pm

Stories From the Safe House

Lantern Rescue / Lantern Rescue

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August 13, 2022 12:00 pm

Robby is joined by Mark's wife, Jamie, Alan's wife, Tammy, and Ren, who have been in the Dominican Republic following a rescue operation that resulted in the liberation of 80 women. They emphasize the importance of recognizing adult victims of trafficking and share some of these women's stories.

A warning: this program contains sensitive content. Listener discretion is advised.

Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) at 1-888-373-7888.

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But most of all, thank you for listening and for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. We're creating a normalized commercial sex industry among children is what is initially happening here by not taking a stand, not speaking out, and not finding a way to combat it. You know, I think a lot of these kids probably start out on here and someone along the way has told them how quick and easy the money was for them to, you know, send a picture of themselves. And maybe it wasn't even fully nude. Maybe it was just a little bit risque picture and somebody was willing to pay them $20 for that.

And then it just continues to escalate because even with only fans being 18 and up, there's definitely ways around that. The kids are going to find a way. Welcome to Lantern Rescue, a ministry program dedicated to bringing light into the darkness of human trafficking. It's time to light the way to freedom. This is Lantern Rescue. We tell the stories, we talk about rescues, and we empower you to do something about it.

William Wilberforce once said, Let it not be said I was silent when they needed me. This is Lantern Rescue. And so, Wren, can you kind of bring us up to date on what's happened? Yeah, so I just got back to the States last night.

I was down in the Dominican Republic with everyone recently. I had to come back to take care of some business at home. So if you follow the social media, you'll see that we had a large recovery mission of a very substantial number of victims of sex trafficking in the Dominican Republic. So we'll get into more about the operation in a later episode and the details in that.

But the operation was going on, investigations going on for several, several months, about eight months. And it culminated in the rescue of over 80 girls recently. And we have put them into a safe house and are working to help repatriate them to their country if that's what they want.

If they want to stay in the Dominican Republic, we're looking to see what that looks like. And we're working through that process. But during that process, we were able to, the three of us, myself, Jamie and Tammy, were able to go to a safe house and get to spend some time with the girls after they had been removed from the situations and they were placed into a safe home.

Wow. And so, Jamie, can you kind of take us to what that was like as you and Tammy, you know, went into that safe house? Well, the first day, we had a group of them and got to introduce ourselves and ask them a few questions and tell them why we were there. And we started out by saying, we're here because of Jesus. Jesus put this in our hearts to help free you. So we started out with that and told them that each one was special to God, special to us. And you could see the room starting to tear up. Their eyes were filled with tears.

I'm sure they haven't felt special over the last little while. Wow. And Tammy, are you able to talk about where these girls are actually from? They're not from the Dominican Republic, are they? I would say South America at this point. All that we talked to were from the same location in South America.

Wow. So, Jamie, how old were these girls for the most part, would you say? For the most part, I would say between 18 and 24. There were a couple that were a little older, but I don't think anyone was over 30. So what were some of the other impressions you had, Tammy, as you got a chance to meet these girls? One of the first impressions I had of the girls is they seemed relaxed. They didn't seem overly stressed. Of course, they're in a house full of other girls, but they didn't seem stressed out as far as not knowing what was going to happen to them.

But they did seem relaxed. Not everyone was willing to talk to the American women that were there, but there were some that wanted to talk to us. And once they realized that we were there to help, they had a lot to say to us. Yeah. And I think that's kind of the heart of what you guys wanted to share with our listeners is what did these girls want to talk about?

Yeah. So it took a while for them to warm up to us. This was like a three-day long process of us going and meeting them the first time. And then we later brought back dinner for them. Their food and everything is provided there, but one night we just decided to go out and pick up dinner for all of them so no one had to cook.

It just took about three days for us to be able to actually sit down and talk to them. But on the third day, we were able to sit down and some of them wanted to go into private rooms and talk to us and just share their story and how they got where they're at. And what caused the situations in their life that brought them to the Dominican Republic and brought them into these situations. So one of the first girls that we interviewed, she was only 19. She was very young. She had been recruited by a friend of a friend to go to the Dominican Republic for a job. And she didn't know that she would be doing escort work.

She knew she would be working in some type of entertainment, but she didn't know for sure if she would be an escort. She had been in a really bad situation in our previous country. She had actually terminated a pregnancy. She had an abortion and she was very upset about that.

That had taken a mental toll on her and she was suffering with depression and anxiety and other issues. And this friend of a friend hit her when she was vulnerable and said, you know, you can have this better life in the Dominican Republic. And all you need to do is just give me your documents. I'm going to get you over there. You'll pay us back, you know, your fee for getting over there. But then, you know, you're going to have this great life. You're going to live in the Dominican Republic.

How great, how awesome is that going to be? And the story was really similar. That lead in about a friend of a friend offering a plane ticket. They all had the same debt. All their debt when they first got to the Dominican was $3,000 in American money for their documents and for their travel. And they thought they were told, you can pay that back in two weeks and then you'll get to do whatever you want.

No problem. Well, they get there and then the interest rate is, you know, a thousand percent and now they're being charged for food and water and their housing. And they realized pretty quickly that they're never paying off this debt.

This is never happening. So the first girl that we talked to, she had been diagnosed bipolar and depression in her previous country and was struggling with that. She started to work in the industry. She did have to start seeing clients. They forced her to see clients.

She said some days six to seven, some days none. And the way she really handled it is she made a best friend there that she called her sister. And they would like hold hands through their being raped by clients. It's not consensual, even if the girls are acting like it's consensual, it's not. So I'd like to call it what it is. It is rape. When you solicit a victim of sex trafficking, that is rape.

So they would hold hands while they were being raped by their clients and just cry to each other. Wow. Wow. So Jamie, what was, what was your experience? What caught your attention that day? Well, all of it, but one thing, the girls, so many that we talked to were aware of what they were going into, but were out of options to take care of their family members. And also were unaware of the toll it would take on them physically and emotionally. And they started sharing about the diseases and the physical problems they're having and the emotional toll it has taken on them. And they just broke down and sobbed. I think all but one, we all ended up holding them while they just sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. They are so broken and destroyed. And the one girl said it very well. She said, my body's not the same and my emotions are not the same. It's all broken.

Everything is completely broken. And that's very devastating. Oh my goodness. Yeah.

I, you know, what a, what an experience. Tammy, how about you? The hardest part for me to hear was the ones that came and left children behind in their country. They left as young as two months old. One girl left her two month old baby to come here to make a better life, to make some money, to have a better life in their country.

And then we had some that had as old as an 11 year old. So you realize the ages that we're telling you, these women have had children very young. But the fact that they would leave a two month old, in fact, one of the things the girls were saying is that she was still lactating even though she had left her two month old back in South America. It's extremely difficult, even when you have your two month old, to deal with the postpartum effects of giving birth, let alone to be doing that in another country and to be subject to rape on a sometimes daily basis.

Yeah, it's really unthinkable. But I know that the audience is probably thinking that I, or just like I am, you know, kind of, Ren, where do they go from here? So that's still being worked out. That's a great question. And we have a lot of avenues that we're looking through for all of them. What's really interesting about this group of girls is a lot of them had started college or had some form of college education, and a lot of them want to go back to schooling. So we're still figuring out what exactly that's going to look like for them. Some of them want to go back to their home country, some of them don't.

So we're working really closely with immigration and other services to be able to provide them whatever they need and whatever we're able to provide to get them somewhere safe and so that they don't have to go back. Because they don't. They don't want to go back to this work. None of them enjoyed what they were doing.

But they still, it hasn't changed the situation, you know. They thought they were coming to Dominican Republic to make a bunch of money to send to their families. And now they're going to return, if they go back to their home country, they're going to return with no money, nothing to show for it. And one of the girls even said, like, what am I going to tell my family?

I don't want them to know what I was doing, but also I'm coming back with nothing. Like, well, how do I explain that? So just because they're removed from this bad situation doesn't mean their home situation is suddenly remedied and it's going to be Disney World when they get home.

It's not. So now we have to figure out, well, what's next? And there is, because a lot of people don't see adult victims as victims, there is a dramatic lack of resources for women like this. So it's a work in progress and we're committed to seeing these girls through and doing the best we can to provide what we can for them in the future and helping get them set up in a safe life that's not going to subject them to this kind of stuff again.

Right. And those listening like me, you know, what a great prayer request, right, that God would give the team wisdom and the resources there at the safe house there and the Dominican, you know, wisdom to know, you know, because obviously all these ladies, you know, they had a situation that they were trying to figure out how to manage. And it didn't it turned out into a catastrophe. But, you know, 80 women is that's a lot of people to take care of. And, you know, real issue as I see that as well.

Jamie, what do you think? It's a huge issue. Yes, we definitely need resources. We need money just to be straightforward to help these girls, because you're talking about 80 lives here. And if each one of them would like to go to college, so that they can actually do something upstanding to help care for themselves and their kids, and one girl was doing it care for her sickly grandmother, then that's gonna take a lot of money to help them.

That's the reality of the situation. So, you know, I was talking to this one girl who literally, I don't know, we talked to her an hour to maybe two hours that one took a long time and she sobbed the entire way through. She could barely talk to us.

She was crying the whole way through. And I said, we mentioned to you, we worked really hard or there were hundreds of people working many hours for many months, all working to free you. And she said, we're not free unless you can help me do something else when we're out of here. I won't be free because I have no other option. And so the situation for these ladies is extremely desperate.

They wouldn't have gone into this if it weren't their last option. Yeah, so well, we've got to go to a break. I know we've got many other stories as you guys spend another couple of days there. And so we're going to get into all that and some other things. Obviously, Christ is working to set them all free as well.

And you could hear that even from the beginning of the conversation. So we'll be right back with a lot more of this live from location in the Dominican report for Lantern Rescue. Lantern Rescue is a USA based organization that conducts international rescue operations for people suffering from human trafficking. Lantern specializes in sending former U.S. special operation law enforcement and intelligence personnel to partner with host nations and assist them in creating specialized units to combat ongoing security problems such as genocide, terrorism and human trafficking.

As a nonprofit charity, they offer services free of charge to their host nations. Human trafficking has grown into the second largest criminal activity in the world, reaching an estimated 150 billion dollars in annual activity. Lantern Rescue has developed rapidly to combat trafficking. Lantern operates through a trained international network in order to rescue women and children from sex and labor slavery and facilitates holistic aftercare services.

They're gearing up for operations right now, and you can go to to see how you can support them financially. The following program contains sensitive content. Listener discretion is advised. Welcome back to Lantern Rescue in today's kind of live on location report from this huge raid in the Dominican, which we praise God for all the prayers because we've been praying about this raid here for a number of months and that we would be able to get these horrible people, you know, and make a case against them that will stick is keeping these people off the streets is is huge for the security of all these girls, right?

Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, the common theme among all the girls stories was this debt of $3,000. They were all brought to the Dominican and told that they owed, you know, $3,000 for getting their for getting their passport, getting the documents, the flights, whatever. And then that always kept going up, it was never gonna get paid back. So there's this debt that's hanging, you know, in in the universe, according to these traffickers.

And then our team comes in and they give up all the girls may arrest the traffickers. But there's still we have made it very clear to the girls that that doesn't exist. You're never paying it back. You don't need to think about that debt again.

Don't worry about it. But in reality, that's not it's not that simple. That is our plan, and they will not pay that debt back. But the problem is, there's someone out there that's looking for that money, someone did pay for those tickets, someone did pay for those passports, and someone was paying to house these girls. So well, most of those people are arrested, there's people, their partners in another country that got them to the Dominican Republic.

And that person invested in sending these girls over thinking that they were going to get a return on that and now they're out. So a main concern that we heard with the girls is you want to go back to your home country? Well, yes, I want to I miss my family.

I miss my dog, my cat, my kids, you know, all that. But then it was usually followed by, but there's a person that's looking for me because I owe them money for getting here and they've threatened my family. I'm afraid they're gonna find me when I get home. They know where I live. They have friends here in the Dominican that know when I'm going to be leaving and they watch us.

So there's this other concern with their safety when they go back to their country. And that's something that we're trying to figure out how to remedy that, and how we can keep these girls safe. But this isn't the rescue and the raid and stuff. It's very impactful.

And it's amazing. But it is just a drop in the bucket for what we owe these girls and what needs to happen for them. There's so much that goes on after the raid. They aren't just forgotten and, you know, everyone high fives and we go on our merry way. There's so much more with providing for them, getting them into a better life, keeping them safe, you know, making sure that they're not gonna get victimized like this again. Wow. And the stories are complicated.

You know, each one has their own and there's 80 of them. But there was one girl apparently, there was somebody willing to she had cervical cancer you were talking about, Wren? Yeah, so one of the girls very young, very early 20s. She had found out that she had cervical cancer. She had a TV and it had turned into cervical cancer. And she found that out while she was being held captive.

And it was very painful. And she was experiencing a lot of complications and that and anyone that knows cervical cancer, if it's not treated, it can progress very rapidly. And it most treatment is removing the uterus. So that means no children.

She doesn't have any children currently and there's a very good chance she won't ever get that opportunity to have biological children. So one of the clients was actually somewhat nice to her. It's hard to say that because they still are raping sex trafficking victims. But this particular client paid $20,000 American to buy her freedom.

When he found out that she was sick, that she had cervical cancer, he wanted to take her away from that, get her medical care. And they accepted the money, but they didn't let her free. And her debt was $3,000. $20,000 is significantly more than that.

So it just also shows that that's just a number that they say, it's not real. They're never going to let them go. They're an investment. Every day that they're there, they're making money off them. They don't care if they've got cervical cancer and they're in pain.

They don't care if someone pays off their debt. They're never letting them go. This was never a voluntary thing. They might've chosen to come to the Dominican Republic, but that was the last free choice they made. Wow.

It's just so horrific. And so Jamie, you and Tammy went back in there after Wren got on the plane and yesterday you guys had more time with them. And I imagine they started to open up even more as you had a chance to talk to them yesterday.

Yeah. So the one girl I talked to, she was the one that was told a greater number. Her number was 4,500. And then she said when she got here, they actually locked her in her room and would not let her out until it was paid off.

So that took, I can't remember what she said, like a month or two. Then when it was paid off, they kicked her out. And then she went to somewhere else where they told her they would give her security. She accepted the security because her life was threatened. Kind of a confusing story, but her life was threatened, I think, by the previous trafficker.

And then this trafficker took and said, we'll protect you. So she was thankful because the other traffickers said they were going to go kill her son. So she accepted protection from another trafficker who now also put her in debt bondage. And so she's just going from one bad situation to another where she has no freedom. She's stuck in that room until that debt is paid off. Then they kick her out and threaten her son. And now another one has taken her on, said we're going to give you protection.

And now, but we're going to charge you for it. And so she hadn't gotten that debt paid off yet by the time she was rescued. And she also has physical things going on.

She has had a fibroid removed, but cannot quit bleeding. So she is, I can't work this way, but then she's also like, this has destroyed my body. This has destroyed my emotions. My mom did this to provide for her kids.

And now I'm doing this to provide for my family. And I don't want to do this ever again. And she just sat there and sobbed and begged, please. She begged, please do anything, everything you can to help me in any way so that I never have to do this again.

I don't think I can do this anymore. It was really sad. Really, really, really sad.

No, it's really is. And how about you Tammy? The other girl that we talked to was a friend of the girl who Jamie was just speaking about. And she was the one that entered into law enforcement. And she attempted to go into law enforcement and borrowed money from her family to do that because there's upfront costs of uniforms and such. And as she was going through the law enforcement, she didn't pass all of the tests and was then sent out of that academy. And while she's in law enforcement, she had the upfront money. And then as she's there, she has a debt that she's accumulating as they pay for them to be in the academy. So she leaves the academy not only with the debt to her family members that helped her get in, but additional money. And she was told about the opportunity in the Dominican and she thought long and hard about it and decided that she would come over here and attempt to make some money to send back to her family.

She was very concerned that her mother would find out because her mother only thinks she's here being a waitress. So as she's here, she kept thanking us and thanking us and telling us that she loved us. And it was heartbreaking to hear that she was just trying to make a life for herself in that country and do a professional job and wasn't able to. And again, it all boils down to having a debt. Even though this debt was to family members and there was no threat, she still felt responsible to pay that debt back.

So she was doing whatever she could to pay that debt back and then comes here and actually goes in more debt as she arrived. Yeah, the desperation is just, wow, rampant. There's such difficult situations. But Ren, so you really want to explain, you know, how serious this is for anybody that thinks this is something right? Can you kind of go into that?

Yeah, absolutely. So a lot of the girls knew and they were very honest about it. They said, I'm going to be honest.

I know I knew I was coming here to work in the sex world. I knew I was coming here to be an expert, but they didn't know that they were going to be held against their will. They didn't know they were going to be forced to see over a dozen clients a day. They didn't know any of that. And they were brought there under false, you know, it was a lie. It was all lies.

They might have said, you're coming to be an escort, but they forgot to mention that. Oh, you owe us three thousand dollars that will make sure you can never repay, that you'll never see a cent of any of the money that you make and that you're going to do what we tell you or we're going to kill your family. We're going to kill you.

We're going to hurt the people you love. So I think sometimes people have a hard time seeing victims that are the age of these women and seeing them as victims. You know, these women were they were of age. They were over 18. A lot of countries in the world, prostitution is legal over 18. But having a pimp or having someone that solicits clients for you is not. They had these girls that seemed legal, you know, they're over 18 and they just have to hide the fact that they've got a pimp and that they're being held against their will.

But on when they're walking around the street trying to solicit clients, they look legal. So it's hard for people to imagine that those are victims to the girls that are, you know, she's 23 and she seems like she's enjoying this. She can't be a victim. Well, we volunteered to come over to the Dominican Republic, so this is her fault.

No, it's absolutely not. A voluntary situation can become human trafficking and slavery very easily. It happens a lot. Like a scared 19-year-old on a plane from country to country that is, you know, looking around wide-eyed. You want them to think they're going into something by their own choice and that it's going to be a good situation. You wait until you get them there and that's when, you know, the script flips and all of a sudden they're not able to leave and they can never repay the debt. So I just really want people to understand that victims are not just minors and they're all just grabbed off the street and taken kicking and screaming.

A lot of them go voluntarily in the beginning and then it completely changes once they're under the control of their traffickers. So I just really think that's important. And we've been hesitant in the past and I really want to emphasize that this is the Dominican Republic. I love the Dominican Republic.

I've been working there for years. Vacation, you know, they go with their buddies on vacation. They go to paradise and they're, you know, it's all smoking and joking and, you know, let's get a prostitute.

Let's all go out and get prostitutes and we'll take pictures with these beautiful women and we'll hire them for the night and it's going to be so amazing. Well, you might be in paradise, but they're in hell and you're raping them. And you might not realize that or have that intention to be that. But when you're paying for sex, it is not voluntary. It is not their choice. They've gotten to a situation in their life that they have no other options and they're being held against their will. So I think the illusion needs to be shattered around this, that it's this cool thing and that it's worth going over to other countries to rape people.

It's disgusting. And it's me talking to these girls and seeing their faces and hearing them cry about how they just would pretend they weren't there when they were being raped by their clients dozens of times a day. It's heartbreaking and they are victims and they should be seen as that.

Wow. And so I know that a lot of our hearts are going out to them. Clearly, what a prayer request that the Lord will provide resources for these girls. And if he puts it on your heart, right, that you can go right to and certainly submit a donation. There's a place to do that there.

And again, just to earmark this money that you want this to go towards the 80 women or whatever you feel like you want to earmark the money for. By all means, if the Lord puts it on your heart, go to Land and Rescue. We thank you so much for your prayers and for your listening and your support on Land and Rescue. Thank you all so much for this report today. Jamie and Tammy and Wren. You're welcome. Thank you. This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / / 2023-03-11 09:30:13 / 27975450

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