Fueled by a heart that is definitely big enough to change the world, writer, speaker and philanthropist Linda Rendleman has always worked to lift women up. In 2012 when the Super Bowl came to Indianapolis, Linda learned that the epidemic of sexual trafficking was not a world away, but in her own backyard. That knowledge appalled her and drove her to act. This year, her foundation, Women Like Us, Inc. is raising $25,000 through crowdfunding to fight sexual trafficking where it lives—in your town and on the streets around the world.
In this conversation, Linda reveals that the market for sex relies on supply and demand and crosses all socio-economic boundaries. Children (girls and boys) are taken at the ages of 10-15 and sold into slavery. Once there, they find themselves in a lifestyle where they are victimized three ways: by the pimps who own them, the customers who use them and the police who arrest them for breaking the law. But there is a way out and many organizations are working hard to help free the victims of this horrifying industry.
The Key is Awareness
Linda admits that she was clueless in thinking that sex trafficking was the problem of 3rd world countries and poverty and drugs. As she rode along with a woman working to rescue kids, she saw everything from a top-of-the-line Mercedes to older cars amid the traffic shopping for sex. The real problem is with the user. They pay more for younger bodies and that’s when the victims are the most vulnerable. One attorney Linda spoke with said that she had never met a prostitute who hadn’t been sexually abused as a child or trafficked. Linda’s goal now is to create awareness of the problem and develop volunteers and funds to fight it head on.
Her most recent book, WOMEN LIKE US Together Changing the World contains a section with stories written by women who have found their mission fighting sex trafficking in different ways. One of these women is Washington State Congresswoman Linda Smith. She created Shared Hope International when she visited Mumbai to see the human trafficking problem for herself. When she became aware that the industry was the second most profitable in the world and stretched into her own back yard, she vowed to fight the laws that makes criminals of victimized American children, and today rates the states on her website. Linda was shocked to find that California gets a D on Shared Hope’s state grade card.
Rescue, Restore and Recover
The organizations work with the victims through a three-part process. First, they rescue them from the streets or houses where they work. They house them through mentoring, social work and psychiatric process, then finally help them into recovery. There are many success stories where women are getting degrees, working to retrieve their children from the foster system and moving on to have happy, healthy lives.
Linda’s organization supports many organizations that are working daily to lift other women up, one woman at a time. She produced a documentary to tell the story and show the viewer what it’s like to ride along with those who are reaching out to help. Check out her website for more. Add your own donation to help her reach her goal of transforming lives. And listen to this conversation for more of Linda’s story and how Dr. Nancy says we must all work together to end this crime against the most vulnerable of us. And we can end it—together.