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Posts tagged ‘Child Trafficking’

What can you do about human trafficking? by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 20, 2022:

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. During this month, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services makes fighting against human trafficking a priority, and strives to improve awareness, services, and prevention efforts to help eradicate trafficking in Texas. In keeping with this goal, I want to share some of what I’ve learned during the research for the novels I have written about human trafficking, specifically about child sex trafficking.

Before I wrote the first book, my perspective was very narrow. In my mind, this unspeakable crime was limited to the back alleys of foreign countries or a few mega-cities in the U.S. where orphans or run-aways were snatched from a hopeless existence and forced into something even worse. And it didn’t include children.

Then, one Sunday evening, a couple from Tyler visited our church. They had founded an organization called For the Silent whose mission statement reads, in part: we work to end sex trafficking and exploitation by empowering the voices of vulnerable and exploited youth. Their visit was a real wake up call.

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What you can do to fight human trafficking | by Linda Brendle

January is Human Trafficking Prevention/Awareness Month, and yesterday I posted an article about Cecilia Abbott, First Lady of Texas, who recently announced a statewide interfaith “Week of Prayer to End Human Trafficking” on Jan. 11-17. The article included daily prompts for those who choose to participate. Today I’m following up with some suggestions about what you can do after you pray.

Even though I knew child trafficking existed, in my mind it was a remote evil until I heard a presentation from an organization based fifty miles from my home who rescues girls and sometimes boys who have been trafficked. Since then I have written two novels in the hope of raising awareness about a tragedy that exists, not just in foreign countries or huge cities but in the towns where children you know and love play and go to school.

One of the most common questions I’m asked about my books is why on earth I chose to write about such a dark, heart-wrenching topic. I have a long, involved explanation, but basically the answer is that I want my readers to understand that sex trafficking is real and that it is here and now. I also want my readers to know there are things they can do to fight sex trafficking. Jesse and Mrs. G are a couple of my characters who exemplify some ways to help, but not many of us can offer cover-up tattoos or manage a rescue ministry. Everyone can get involved, though, and that’s why I’m sharing this post.

Educate yourself:

Here is a list of just a few organizations that fight sex trafficking. These websites and many others are good places to read about the extent and reality of this crime. And there’s always Google or whatever search engine you prefer.

Volunteer:

These organizations always need help. Each organization has a different list of needs, and whatever time or talent you have to offer can probably be used in some way.

Donate:

In addition, they always need money. If your schedule is already full, maybe you can donate to the cause.

Politics:

Maybe politics is your thing. Find out if there are any initiatives on the table to get more funding to fighting sex trafficking. Write your governor, senator, congressman, county commissioner, anyone who might have some influence to either propose or support such an initiative. Research other attempts to fight sex trafficking and throw your support behind them.

Finally, get involved one-on-one:

Personally, I’m not a big picture person. I prefer to try and reach the vulnerable before they become victims. I believe in working with kids one-on-one to make them feel worthy enough that they won’t fall for the schemes of someone like Eric, the trafficker in my books.

My church has active programs for children and youth that include Adventure Club and nursery for children, special programs for youth, and Sunday School and camp for all ages. All of these activities provide opportunities for adult volunteers to spend time with the kids in groups and also one-on-one, taking time to look them in the eye and say, in actions and sometimes in words, “you are important” – “you matter.”

Not into church? That’s okay. How about sports teams, cheerleading, FFA, all the many secular organizations for kids that always seem to be looking for coaches and team parents, adults who will give their time. What about becoming a mentor? Contact the counselor at a school in your area and make yourself available. I’ve been a mentor since 2014 and have been visiting with the same young lady for almost seven years. 

When I look at the magnitude of child trafficking, I sometimes feel like the old man in the starfish story. A little boy was at the beach after a huge storm and there were millions of star fish washed up on the sand. They were drying out in the sun and would soon all be dead. He walked along picking up one after another and throwing them back in the water. An old man was walking toward him, watching what he was doing. When he came close, he said, “Son, you’re not doing any good. There are too many for you to make a difference.” The boy smiled and picked up another small starfish. As he threw it into the water, he said to the man, “I made a difference to that one.”

I hope I make a difference with what I do at the church and at the school, and I hope I make a difference with what I write. I also hope each of you will look for ways to fight trafficking. If each of us does something to help one starfish, we really can make a difference.

Blessings,

Linda

Texas First Lady to host week of prayer to end human trafficking

A recent article from the Hill Country Journal:

Texas First Lady to host week of prayer to end human trafficking

Austin – Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott today announced the “Governor’s Response Against Child Exploitation” initiative will host a statewide interfaith “Week of Prayer to End Human Trafficking” on Jan. 11-17.

The week of prayer coincides with Human Trafficking Prevention Month in the state of Texas and serves as a call to action to the faith-based community to unite in prayer, learn more about human trafficking, and discern opportunities to prevent exploitation and support survivors.

GRACE will launch the Week of Prayer to End Human Trafficking through a virtual interfaith event on Jan. 11 at 6 p.m. on Facebook. The event will include remarks from state officials, prayer, and a panel discussion of faith leaders and members of the Office of the Governor’s Child Sex Trafficking Team.

“The Governor’s GRACE Initiative is working closely with communities of faith all across Texas to help prevent human trafficking an bring hope an healing to survivors – and the Week of Prayer to End Human Trafficking is an important part of our efforts,” said First Lady Cecilia Abbott. “I urge Texans of all faiths across the state to join us in prayer and action so that we can put an end to human trafficking once and for all.”

GRACE is a collaboration between the Office of the Texas First Lady, CSTT, the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), and a diverse group of faith leaders across Texas that work together to develop effective strategies to end human trafficking. The initiative launched in December 2019.

Daily Prayer Intentions for the Week of Prayer include:

Monday, Jan. 11 – Pray for an end to human trafficking;

Tuesday, Jan 12 – Pray for survivors to find healing;

Wednesday, Jan. 13 – Pray for all those working on the front line to support survivors;

Thursday, Jan. 14 – Pray for all those working to bring traffickers and exploiters to justice;

Friday, Jan 15 – Pray for an end to demand and societal factors that lead to exploitation;

Saturday, Jan. 16 – Pray for discernment on the actions you can personally take to address human trafficking.

Texans can use the hashtag #TXPraysToEndHT on social media to share their support for the Week of Prayer to End Human Trafficking. To coincide with the announcement, the First Lady released a video encouraging Texans to participate in the Week of Prayer.

Blessings,

Linda

Book Bargains for National Book Month | by Linda Brendle

In looking for an excuse to offer special pricing on my two novels, I found the perfect one – National Book Month. This month-long celebration is held each October and focuses on the importance of reading, writing and literature. The National Book Foundation created the first National Book Month in 2003.

From today through the end of the month, Tatia’s Tattoo and Fallen Angel Salvage ebooks will be 99 cents, and paperbacks will be $12.95 or less.

Final_Tatia's Tattoo Cover trim sizeTatia’s Tattoo: As a successful D.C. lawyer, Tatia’s mission in life is to destroy the sex trafficking trade in small-town America. She knows where to find it. She’s been there. Filled with tragedy, crime, redemption, and love, Tatia’s Tattoo is a story that exposes the sordid underbelly of small towns and shines a light of hope on how the evil might be defeated.

 

Fallen Angel Final Cover FrontFallen Angel Salvage (Tatia’s Story, Book #2): Tatia and Jesse have a perfect life in Chicago. Her testimony put Eric in prison in Texas twenty years ago. How could anything go wrong? An old black van. A missing child. Tatia and Jesse race through the city streets with a band of bikers while Johnny and Jade dig through the dark web and Detectives Nelson and Martin pound on doors. Will it be enough? Or will their daughter become another statistic?

Blessings,

Linda

Release Day: Fallen Angel Salvage

Fallen Angel Final Cover Front

He ruined her life once; will he do it again?

The rest of the story, from the author of Tatia’s Tattoo.

Tatia and Jesse have a perfect life in Chicago. Her testimony put Eric in prison in Texas twenty years ago. How could anything go wrong?

A mysterious envelope invades their home with news of a trafficker’s parole, and a handwritten note asks the ominous question: Is Joy as brave as her mother?

An old black van. A missing child. Tatia and Jesse race through the city streets with a band of bikers while Johnny and Jade dig through the dark web and Detectives Nelson and Martin pound on doors.

Will it be enough? Or will Joy become another statistic?

P R E F A C E

THE LETTER

Thursday – 3:00 pm

Tatia stepped out the back door and stood quietly for a moment, watching her two children play tag in the small back yard. She smiled as Joy slowly jogged between the swing set and the sandbox with her younger brother in hot pursuit. Daniel lunged toward her, but she swerved at the last moment causing him to belly flop onto the soft grass.

“I almost got you,” he pouted.

Joy leaned over him and gloated, “You missed me by a mile, short stuff.”

He grinned up at her, touched her arm, and rolled away from her under the swing set. “Tag, you’re it!” he shouted in triumph.

Tatia laughed at the stunned look on Joy’s face and clapped her hands. “Nice move, Daniel! Now, recess is over, and we have a reading lesson to complete before we quit for the day. Dust yourselves off and get the mail on your way in.”

“I’ll get it,” yelled Joy as she took off for the front of the house.

“No!” wailed Daniel. “I won! I get to get it.”

“Okay, I guess you’re right,” said Joy, slowing down to let him catch up. Then, she tapped him on the shoulder. “But now you’re it!”

Tatia shook her head and went back into the house as the two tagged and shouted all the way to the mailbox. Joy must have been in a charitable mood, because a few moments later the front door slammed open and Daniel strutted into the living room with several envelopes clutched in his fist. He presented the mail to his mom as if he were handing her a dozen roses, and then headed to the refrigerator for a bottle of water.

“Joy, did you see that old van across the street?” he asked his sister. “It must have been about a hundred years old.”

“I didn’t see any old van, and I wouldn’t care if I did,” said Joy, her charitable mood long gone.

“Well, you should. The driver was staring at you.”

“There wasn’t a van and there wasn’t a driver! You need glasses!”

“That’s enough, you two,” said Tatia, hoping to restore some peace. “What kind of van was it?” she asked Daniel.

“I’m not sure, Mommy. I’ll go check.” He knelt on the couch and peered out the window as Tatia looked over his shoulder. “It’s gone now,” he said with a shrug.

“Good! Now we can talk about something important,” said Joy. “Like birthday cards! Mommy, did I get any more today?”

Tatia dismissed the uneasy feeling that tried to insinuate itself into her mind, and made a mental note to talk with Jesse about the van later. Right now, she had an almost-nine-year-old girl dancing from foot to foot, waiting for her to sort the mail. It was two days before Joy’s birthday, and she had received more mail in the last week than she had in the previous nine years. She loved the emails and ecards her mom and dad shared with her, but she loved the cards that came in the mail even more. They felt more like they belonged just to her. Tatia flipped through the small stack of envelopes and handed two of them to her daughter.

“It looks like there’s one from Alicia at school and another one from Grandma and Grandpa G. How many is that from them anyway?”

“Seven! One every day for a whole week! What about that one? Is it for me?” she asked pointing to the plain white envelope Tatia was staring at curiously.

“No, it’s addressed to me, and it doesn’t have a return address or a stamp.”

“Probably a bill,” said Joy, and she took her cards to the couch to read them.

Tatia opened the envelope and pulled out a single sheet of notebook paper. On it was taped a small article from the Cameron Morning Telegraph dated the previous Sunday.

Cameron, TX. After serving twenty years of three concurrent sentences for murder, aggravated statutory sexual assault, and human trafficking, Eric Hall was paroled from the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville this week. His conviction was the first of several that resulted from the testimony of a very brave young woman, later identified as Tatia Robins in her book, Groomed for the Streets. These convictions freed Cameron from the human trafficking trade that had plagued our city for years.

Below the article was a short, hand-written message:

I wonder if Joy is as brave as her mother.

Buy at Amazon | B & N

Ebook available soon.

Blessisngs,

Linda

Happy Book Birthday to Tatia’s Tattoo | by Linda Brendle

Final_Tatia's Tattoo Cover trim size    Fallen Angel Final Cover Front

One year ago today, my first novel was released. Tatia’s Tattoo was a work of love inspired by the shocking knowledge that child sex trafficking takes place, not just in foreign countries and large metropolitan areas, but in small towns like the one where I live. This year I have been working on the second phase of Tatia’s story, and Fallen Angel Salvage is now available for preorder.

Tatia’s Tattoo

As a successful D.C. lawyer, Tatia’s mission in life is to destroy the sex trafficking trade in small-town America. She knows where to find it. She’s been there.

With only apathetic foster parents to protect her, she fell prey to the local pimp. Trapped in the sordid underbelly of a small Texas town, she survived by sheer will. Her friendship with her fellow victim Cindy was the only light of humanity in the darkness until she saw a familiar face. Would Mrs. G, a mama bear of an attorney, still think she had strength and potential? Would Jesse, the young Christian tattoo artist and biker, still look at her with a twinkle in his eyes? Or would they both see only the mark of shame Eric had etched onto her forearm?

Buy now in Paperback ($12.95) or Ebook ($2.99)

Fallen Angel Salvage

He ruined her life once; will he do it again?

The rest of the story, from the author of Tatia’s Tattoo.

Tatia and Jesse have a perfect life in Chicago. Her testimony put Eric in prison in Texas twenty years ago. How could anything go wrong?

A mysterious envelope invades their home with news of a trafficker’s parole, and a handwritten note asks the ominous question: Is Joy as brave as her mother?

An old black van. A missing child. Tatia and Jesse race through the city streets with a band of bikers while Johnny and Jade dig through the dark web and Detectives Nelson and Martin pound on doors.

Will it be enough? Or will Joy become another statistic?

Release date is July 30. Preorder now in Paperback (Ebook available soon)

Blessings,

Linda

 

Cover Reveal: Fallen Angel Salvage by Linda Brendle

He ruined her life once; will he do it again?

The rest of the story, from the author of Tatia’s Tattoo.

Tatia and Jesse have a perfect life in Chicago. Her testimony put Eric in prison in Texas twenty years ago. How could anything go wrong?

A mysterious envelope invades their home with news of a trafficker’s parole, and a handwritten note asks the ominous question: Is Joy as brave as her mother?

An old black van. A missing child. Tatia and Jesse race through the city streets with a band of bikers while Johnny and Jade dig through the dark web and Detectives Nelson and Martin pound on doors.

Will it be enough? Or will Joy become another statistic?

A heart-pounding crime thriller unlike any Christian novel you’ve read.

Fallen Angel Final Cover Front

Projected Release Date: July 16, 2019
Cover Design by Brianna Snyder, Spyder Design, http://www.thespyderdesign.com

Blessings,

Linda

Tatia’s Tattoo is available in paperback on Amazon. Due to technical difficulties, the ebook is not currently available but will be back soon.

Priorities | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on June 25, 2019:

inside-mind1As a writer, I have a tendency to live inside my own head, thinking about my next column, laying out the plot of a new book, or working on a tricky scene or bit of dialogue. It’s not that I’m disengaged from what’s going on around me. But even during the most interesting discussion, the most challenging chore, or the most entertaining activity, a part of my mind is always searching for an idea to be stored on my mental hard drive and retrieved later to see where it might fit into a work in progress.

This isn’t always true when we’re watching TV. While David is surfing YouTube, Amazon Prime, and other streaming sites for interesting videos on sailing, RVing, metal detecting, bloopers, and other topics that interest him, I’m usually, writing, cooking, reading, working crossword and Sudoku puzzles, or playing with my phone. Once in a while, though, something catches my attention, and that happened this week when he was watching a video on auto detailing. (more…)

Nightwalk for Hope by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 23, 2019:

For the silentAs a published author, the most common question I’m asked is what my books are about. I released my first novel last summer, and the short answer to that question is “it’s about human trafficking in small town America.” The second most common I’m asked about that particular book is “whatever possessed you to write about a subject like that?”

Before this book, my perspective on human trafficking, specifically sex trafficking of young girls, was very narrow, based primarily on movies and television crime shows. In my mind, this unspeakable crime was limited to the back alleys of foreign countries or a few mega-cities in the U.S. where orphans or run-aways were snatched from a hopeless existence and forced into something even worse. And it didn’t include children.

Then, one Sunday evening, a couple from Tyler visited our church. They had founded an organization called For the Silent whose mission statement reads, in part: we work to end sex trafficking and exploitation by empowering the voices of vulnerable and exploited youth. Their visit was a real wake up call.

Numbers are all over the place depending on which expert you read, but everyone seems to agree that over a million children are trafficked each year, and the average age when children are introduced into trafficking is 11 to 14. Not only is sex trafficking not limited to faraway places, it is not limited to nameless, faceless children who live in another reality. It is happening to girls – and sometimes boys – just like my grandchildren, the children and grandchildren of my friends and neighbors, the children I see every week at church or in the grocery store.

One of the stories the couple told us that night was about a thirteen-year-old girl who was targeted by a trafficker. She was an innocent, small-town girl who was approached by a stranger asking for directions. During their brief conversation, he gave her a non-threatening compliment then said good-by. Over the next several months, he “groomed” her. She “ran into him” frequently, and they became friends. At first they just talked, and then he began giving her small gifts. Their friendship grew, the gifts became larger, and she fell in love with him. He used her feelings for him to manipulate her into becoming part of his merchandise. Then, he continued to control her with fear and threats and violence. That’s why I wrote the novel I did – because I think the story of this girl and others like her needs to be told to people like me who don’t know these silent victims exist.

Nightwalk2When I visit various group to talk about my book, I offer suggestions about how each of us can help fight this horrible crime. One of those suggestions is to support groups like For the Silent, and an opportunity is available this week. The biggest fund-raising event for this Tyler-based operation is their annual Nighwalk For Hope. The following information is from their website:

 On the evening of Saturday, April 27th, we will come together as a community to shine a light on human trafficking in east Texas.

This family-friendly event includes multiple food trucks, bounce houses, music, face-painting, yard games, and more. As the sun sets around 8:15pm we conclude the night with a 2-mile walk on a section of the Rose Rudman trail.

Each participant will carry a lantern to light our way and to symbolize hope in the darkness.

[Online] registration is now closed. But worry not, you can register at the event!

Event Day Details:

 Event sign-in and registration begins at 5:30 pm in Rose Rudman’s Southside Park and we will start walking as the sun sets around 8:15 pm.

 T-shirts can be picked up at the sign-in table for participants who have pre-registered online. [Other t-shirts, tote bags, and souvenirs are available for purchase.] 

 We will have food trucks, kids’ activities, and music before the walk begins — so bring your family and a lawn chair or blanket, and enjoy a fun community atmosphere.

 We will have security, adequate lighting, and port-a-potties to help ensure everyone has a great time.

 For more information about Nightwalk For Hope or For the Silent, go to www.ForTheSilent.org or call 903.747.8128.

Blessings,

Linda

Final_Tatia's Tattoo Cover trim size

Amazon

 

Tatia’s Tattoo: Release minus 1!

TATIA’S TATTOO

RELEASE DATE: TOMORROW!

GENRE: CHRISTIAN FICTION/LEGAL THRILLER

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As a successful D.C. lawyer, Tatia’s mission in life was to destroy the sex trafficking trade in small-town America. She knew where to find it. She’d been there. With only apathetic foster parents to protect her, she fell prey to the local pimp. Trapped in the sordid underbelly of a small Texas town, she survived by sheer will. Her friendship with her fellow victim Cindy was the only light of humanity in the darkness until she saw a familiar face. Would Mrs. G, a mama bear of an attorney, still think she had strength and potential? Would Jesse, the young Christian tattoo artist and biker, still look at her with a twinkle in his eyes? Or would they both see only the mark of shame Eric had etched onto her forearm?

I cannot remember when I read a fiction book that moved me like this one. – Lisa Stillman

Final_Tatia's Tattoo Cover trim size

Pre-Order Paperback on Amazon Now 

Paperbook and Ebook available on BookPros and Amazon on release.

To read the Preface and first 2 chapters, go to https://www.bookpros.com/books/15 and click on “Download a sample” below the cover.

Blessings,

Linda

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