My friend Greg often talks about interruptions to our lives, those moments when our preconceptions and our mindset are interrupted and often we are left changed.
This happened to me this week at the sentencing of a 31 year old man for child sex trafficking. I'll admit, straight up, that I walked into the courtroom desperate to see this guy go down and to go down hard. Such a despicable crime deserves the harshest, hardest penalty possible and I wanted a long, long sentence. It turned out that I got what I wanted. He received 26 years in a federal prison.
However, there is a part of me that is changed forever from the experience. The offender, 31 years old, had ended up in this position after a lifetime of darkness. A single Mum struggling, sexual abuse as a child, passed from family member to family member, disregarded and uncared for. Gang involvement by 10, drugs, women, crime. As he sat weeping in the courtroom a part of me cried for the brokenness of him. If only as a child HE had been protected. If only he had been Loved…if only he had been taught how to Love others. Here at Love146 we talk about how Love can restore survivors, how it empowers and heals. This week I've expanded my gaze a little. This interruption has made me think a little differently. We failed this trafficker. As a young boy he needed to be protected and Loved. Instead he was molested and violated in a house used to sell crack cocaine, dismissed by his family and by those around him.
As we continue in our fight for abolition we need to look at the big picture. The brokenness of our own communities play a part. I'm convinced this man had no idea of the penalties for sex trafficking and that in itself is tragic, that his own moral judgement was so broken. We need to be teaching children to respect each other, to Love well.
At Love146 we are people of hope… it's a hard reminder to be challenged to hope for the perpetrator as well. To hope for justice (which we got), and to hope for restoration.
Interruptions while not always comfortable are needed. I am seeing things differently.
Collective Shout Officer - Advocacy and Interns
PS - You can read the news report on the case here.