What does restoration look like? Once a person has been removed from sexual exploitation and the clutches of prostitution, when can we know that healing has begun? What does restoration look like?
In working with sex trafficking survivors and with those who help in their healing journey, I’ve been asked these questions many times; “How do you know, when do you know and, what are the signs – that healing is happening?”
Others boldly ask, “Is healing even possible?”
To that, I must admit that I’ve had times of doubt. I’ve worked directly with some victims who have been so multiply abused and exploited that I doubted the possibility of restoration. The emotional effects of the multiplicity of abuse, assaults, threats, coercion, manipulations and exploitation seemed insurmountable.
In the midst of despair, it can be difficult to see the possibility of restoration. Amidst victims’ multiple traumas, the pain and shame, it can be challenging to believe that healing is attainable. And yet, there’s the power of HOPE.
Hope is believing there is a light at the end of the dark, dark tunnel. It is the defiant, stubborn, hope-filled flower that sprouts amidst the cold, harsh winter snow. Hope revives the soul and brings possibility where none existed before. Hope is the life-giving CPR that restores breath.
Healing happens when we’re least expecting it – when the darkness of depression appears unending and the glimmer of a hope seems forever gone.
It can happen in the blink of an eye, when an uncontrolled laugh bursts forth or when a smile blooms from a small possibility into an ear-to-ear grin. Hope emerges. Hope is alive. Restoration has begun!
Some may know the amazing story of Helen Keller, who, in spite of being blind, deaf, and dumb, was able to learn and to graduate from university. She was once considered a hopeless case, unable to communicate or learn. Yet, she proved the doubters wrong. She overcame adversity.
Helen Keller said, “The world is full of suffering but it is also full of overcoming it.” Amidst the suffering and trauma, there is also the power to overcome.
Signs of Restoration:
• One of the first signs of restoration occurs when the person’s perspective changes from being someone who chose prostitution to that of being an exploited victim and then to the healthier and more accurate reality (perspective) of being an (amazing) survivor.
• Healing continues as the person views him/herself no longer as a nobody, but now, as a somebody.
• Healing takes root as the individual begins to view the exploitation as only one chapter in his/her entire life’s story.
Hope brings possibilities and possibilities bring healing. This is what restoration looks like. To the question, “Is restoration even possible?” I reply with a resounding “YES!”
Dr. Becca Johnson is the International Program Director for Rescue:Freedom International.
For more content and updates from Rescue:Freedom, click the link below to subscribe.