Program Highlight: Healthy Relationships

There is a common misconception that sex trafficking happens by a victim being kidnapped by a pimp. In reality, there is usually a previously established relationship between the victim and trafficker.

This relationship can look many different ways. There are cases in which family members traffick the children. This can be for multiple reasons: financial needs, drugs, mental illness, etc. Whether a parent, grandparent, aunt/unlce, cousin, or sibling, the family member abuses his/her power over the child for the purpose of exploitation. 

Pimps also approach potential victims pretending to be a professional. A modeling agent, rapper, or businessman – he/she offers a once in a lifetime opportunity that will bring both of them a lot of money. But the relationship does not have to simply be professional. It is common to hear of pimps who will court young girls, pretending to be their boyfriend for up to a year before introducing exploitative situations. There are usually major red flags in the relationship, but can be hard to identify if there is no previous knowledge of what sex trafficking looks like.

Understanding that most pimps recruit through very personal relationships, we have seen the need to incorporate education on healthy relationships in our presentations. Utilizing material from an organization that specializes in the topic (Kaity’s Way), students learn characteristics of what a good relationship looks like. Oftentimes we solely focus on the negative and what to stay away from. But without knowing what types of relationships to pursue, it is easy for student to justify being in unhealthy relationships.

Just like a bank employee is taught what real money looks like in order to identify the counterfeit, students need to understand what healthy relationships look like so that they gravitate to what is good for them.

These lessons usually come after a presentation about human being’s inherent value. When someone is convinced they are good enough, and then understands what a healthy relationship looks like, their chances of being in a good relationship increases. These principles are easily applied to romantic, platonic, familial, or even professional relationships.

This knowledge fortifies students’ freedom because it helps them avoid co-dependence, and aids in identifying an unhealthy person early on in a relationship. The sooner a predator can be recognized, the better for everyone around. This is our hope when we conduct presentations on healthy relationships.

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