The Importance of Saying “Yes”
By: Jessa Dillow Crisp
As the heat from the summer afternoon filtered into our car, John, my husband, and I found ourselves several years ago driving down a quiet street in Denver looking for the Craigslist kayaks that had been posted hours earlier. Instead of seeing the plasticity of bright colors representing happy days on Colorado’s mountain streams, our eyes landed on a run-down trailer on one side of the road.
I don’t know what it was that made us notice the trailer in the first place, but almost at the same time as we saw it our eyes moved to the other side of the road where a woman got out of a small car and held a dolled up, young boy in her arms. A weird oddness and an energy of caution enveloped the whole situation as we saw an older man leave the trailer and walk across the street to the woman. As their hands touched, he took the boy out of her arms and walked back across the street where we saw the door of the trailer close behind him.
At this point, John and I looked at each other and both said at the same time “did you just see what I saw?” Making the decision to pull over to the side of the road, we processed the scene taking place in front of our eyes.
Integrated into the questions of “what is happening right now with this boy?” was the disturbing reality that as a survivor of human trafficking and as a professional in the anti-trafficking field, not only do I see things that many people do not see—but my mind starts thinking about the worst as I categorized the red flags that I have lived.
For instance, several of the red flags that stood out to us included the fact that the trailer was not in front of a residence to show that it belonged in the area, the dissociated and hazed look on the boy’s face, the way the boy did not fight but he also did not acknowledge the man or even look at the woman, then when placed in the driver’s seat of the trailer (it was for less than a minute) the child showed a stark level of unfamiliarity. Then there was the woman. After the little boy was taken inside the trailer, she got back into her car started to drive in circles around the neighborhood, passing us and the trailer several times in the minutes that ensued.
Oddity. Abnormal behaviors. Unusual movement within a local suburb. What if we are the only ones who hold the power to intervene?
After calling local law enforcement and explaining to them my professional job in the anti-trafficking movement as a trainer and speaker, as well as telling them the red flags that we witnessed—we sat and waited for them to arrive. Sadly, when they did, the lights were flashing and the sirens were blaring… when they turned down the street we saw the woman who was circling the neighborhood speed off in the opposite direction… and then we saw the officers not only bang on the trailer door, but also leave when it wouldn’t open.
In a day and age where we are educating others about the reality of human trafficking and what protocol responses should be put in place, WHY are we still struggling to know how to do so in a trauma-sensitive and survivor-informed way?
A few weeks after that devastating experience, we were presenting our non-profit, BridgeHope to a large group of individuals when a male survivor of trafficking came up to us and asked if we knew of any resources within Colorado for boys who have survived exploitation. Although, the answer at the time was “no”—these two experiences dramatically changed us.
In response to the gap of services and the needs of male survivors being experienced, several years ago, BridgeHope became the first organization in Colorado that provides direct services to male survivors. We are truly honored to work with Restore One and support them in the work that they are doing!
All God asks us to do is be obedient in the small things, which means our yeses are extremely important as we serve and worship God. Even though difficult, obedience becomes a form of praise back to our Redeemer. For us, God is calling us to expand our ministry and work to include a focus on male exploitation AND for you, although your yeses might be unique to the calling on your life—what is God asking you to do today?
As the Co-founder and Executive Director at BridgeHope, Jessa Dillow Crisp uses her childhood experience of severe abuse and trafficking to illustrate both the stark realities of sex trafficking, and the truth that healing transformation is possible. Some highlights of Jessa's career include speaking at the Colorado State Capitol, speaking at the National Character Leadership Symposium, filming with Fight the New Drug and Real Woman Real Stories, and training the Department of Homeland Security on topics related to human trafficking.