Faith in Action

The Fight for Freedom
A Strategy for a Nation
Without Human Trafficking

Can you imagine a world without human exploitation?

Since the beginning, God raised up The Salvation Army as a global pioneer and partner in fighting against human trafficking.

As in 1902 when The Salvation Army “invaded” the Japanese brothels and helped free over 1,000 girls and women, today, we’re dedicated to fighting this evil.

We all agree fighting for justice and equality is a part of our Salvation Army DNA.

According to the International Labor Organization, human trafficking is the fastest growing crime on the planet with 40.3 million victims worldwide. Women and girls are disproportionately affected. 

The fight against human trafficking has been a long one that still continues. In fact, traffickers are smarter now than ever before.

For Jesus’ followers, and for people who believe we are all made in the image of God, this means that we need to be more effective in every way.

We’ve realized that many people in The Salvation Army want to do something about human trafficking, but lack the training needed to be effective. To them, the problem also appears to be too big to tackle. As a result, many people avoid it.

We need vision.

We need strategy. 

We need to be as equipped as possible for the task in front of us.

That’s why, in 2017, representatives from all four USA territories came together to design a way forward. In doing so, they birthed “The Fight for Freedom,” a 10–year nationwide action plan to combat human trafficking.

The Fight for Freedom is filled with dreams, goals, and strategies on how to mobilize an Army to have a holistic, compassionate, and grit–filled response. Its approach is sensitively contexturalized according to the needs of each territory.

For the first time in our history, The Salvation Army has a nationwide, coordinated strategy to fight human trafficking, which will help us move forward together and cohesively.

Focused on four main strategic areas: awareness & training, prevention & outreach, survivor services & recovery, and partnerships & advocacy, this action plan is rooted in and built around effective practices and is informed by people on the front–lines.

Awareness & Training

The first step in fighting human trafficking is to know it exists and then to engage in training people how to properly respond to it.

However, it’s not enough to just know. A good heart isn’t going to decrease human trafficking.

We need to take the next step and become properly equipped on how to engage in a well–informed, connected, and specialized matter.

Through our awareness and training efforts, our hope is to help our officers, employees, soldiers, advisory board members, volunteers, and cadets to know what human trafficking looks like in their community. They represent 135,000 people we can mobilize.

In 2018, we trained 2,312 personnel. We have a long way to go, but we are hopeful that through our Fight for Freedom plan, that number will continue to grow every year.

We also hope to train people in our communities. In 2018 we trained 10,260 individuals across the United States.

Prevention & Outreach

The next step is to reach people who are vulnerable and stop the attack on them before it starts.

In order to prevent human trafficking, communities must be made aware of what puts children, youth, and adults at risk.

Our communities must also consider how to address this root problem—in our laws and policies.

The Salvation Army already participates in prevention through all of its programs that strengthen communities, families, and relationships, such as its community centers, Harbor Light and Adult Rehabilitation Centers, and character building programs.

Outreach is an intervention strategy. It helps to identify people who are being victimized by human trafficking.

Many of our Salvation Army program providers, in the course of their daily responsibilities, may be surprised to realize that they are in contact with victims of trafficking.

It is important that personnel receive training to properly identify a possible trafficking case and know what steps to take.

Additionally, outreach to vulnerable populations is essential in identifying trafficking operations. Doing so leads to the recovery of people who are being victimized.

Survivor Services & Recovery

We believe that each person who has been a victim of human trafficking should have access to the resources they need to find freedom from exploitation. We also believe that, in the process of gaining access to resources, caregivers should respect each victim’s unique journey by providing opportunities to choose autonomy and self–determination. Recovery takes time and can be circular rather than linear in nature.

We believe that The Salvation Army is uniquely equipped to provide specialized survivor services for sex or labor trafficked individuals of all demographics. We have been on the frontlines of serving hard–to–reach populations since the founding of the movement by William and Catherine Booth in London, England.

Across the United States, we currently operate 43 anti–human trafficking programs and initiatives that embody these values. We hope that number continues to grow each and every year.

We must remember as we engage in the Fight for Freedom, that survivors are the experts of their own story. We must engage them as allies in this fight. As we develop and implement services, we must also seek their leadership and expertise in all that we do. 

Partnerships & Advocacy

Policy and advocacy are central to fighting injustice. In 2018, we partnered with 534 local agencies and organizations and 77 task forces and coalitions across the United States in the fight against human trafficking.

We cannot win this fight alone.

We must engage with the collective multidisciplinary expertise of partner organizations such as: social services, shelters, trauma therapists, law enforcement both federal and local, the faith community, schools, universities, and so much more.

Advocacy is another core value of our Salvation Army DNA. Since the early days of the Army, William and Catherine Booth advocated to raise the age of consent in London, England from 13 to 16 years old.

Today across the United States, The Salvation Army is a stakeholder in educating law makers and encouraging them to create and amend legislation that directly or indirectly affects victims of sex or labor trafficking, both domestically and from abroad.

May we always seek justice by raising our collective voices alongside those of survivors so that we may love mercy and walk humbly with our God.

— Co–authors Hillary DeJarnett (Southern Territory), Pilar Dunning (Central Territory), Jamie Manirakiza (Eastern Territory), and Priscilla Santos (Western Territory), are the anti–human trafficking coordinators in the four U.S. territories of The Salvation Army.