Q: How can I get involved with the effort to protect and rescue the innocent victims of exploitation? Recently I heard about human trafficking and sexual slavery right here in our own community!
Jim: It's true that human trafficking, sexual slavery and various types of bondage are going on all around us. Most of us go about our business blissfully ignorant of the suffering and tragedy that could be taking place under our very noses.
If you see someone you suspect might be a victim of trafficking, watch for evidence that he or she is being controlled. Signs include inability to move or leave a job, fear or depression, lack of identification or marks of physical abuse. If you have an opportunity to speak with such an individual in a non-threatening situation, ask questions like, "Do you want to be doing this work?" "Are you being paid?" "Can you leave if you choose to do so?" and "Where do you live and what are your working conditions like?" Should you come across evidence of trafficking in your neighborhood, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.
On the home front, the best way to fight trafficking is to build strong relationships with your own children. Home should be the place where they get their strokes and their positive self-image. You can protect them against negative outside influences by forging a bond of mutual trust. Acknowledge that there are dangerous people in society, then make it clear to your kids that they can always come to you with their needs, problems and concerns. Children who get that kind of affirmation at home generally don't go looking for it somewhere else.
If you'd like to discuss this issue at greater length, feel free to call Focus on the Family's counseling department at 1-800-232-6459.
Q: I know I've been overly critical of my husband in the past, and as a result we're now basically living separate lives under the same roof. How can we turn this situation around and move forward in our marriage?
Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: An anger cycle is set in motion when a perceived need doesn't get met. In this case, your husband likely feels his need for respect has been violated; your hurtful comments have stirred a strong emotional reaction within him. Once established, this bitterness builds on itself and only becomes worse.
The good news is that it only takes one person to slow the cycle. And real intimacy can be re-established if both parties are willing to take responsibility for their own feelings and behavior. As the offender, you're in the best position to make the first move in that direction.
You can initiate a positive dialogue by citing particulars. For example, you can say, "I realize I hurt you when I said ..." Once you've taken that step, be as honest as you can about the negative emotions that are continuing to keep you and your husband apart. You might tell him, "When you sleep in another room, I feel lonely and unloved." It's OK if his first response isn't all that you might hope; it's simply an indication of where he's at emotionally. You can move forward by asking him what he heard you say. Then clarify what you meant, and invite him to express his own feelings in greater depth.
Counseling is an important aid in your efforts to get to the heart of the problem. A professional therapist will be able to help you identify destructive relational patterns and avoid them in the future. Our counselors can give you a list of referrals to therapists in your area. You can reach them at 1-800-232-6459.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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