CHICAGO, Oct. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Right now there are more slaves on earth than at any other time in history: 27 million worldwide. Many of those being bought and sold are caught up in the sex trade, and many of them are children.
Mary Frances Bowley, author of The White Umbrella: Walking With Survivors of Sex Trafficking, hopes to inspire those who want to help, but do not know where to begin.
"Sex trafficking isn't just going on 'out there' somewhere. It's happening in your state. Maybe even your town," said Bowley, president and founder of Wellspring Living (http://www.wellspringliving.org), an Atlanta-based organization fighting childhood sexual abuse and exploitation since 2001.
According to FBI reports, the number of children forced into sex trafficking in the United States alone is well over 100,000.
"For most of my years, I was completely unaware of the sexual slave trade here in America and the desperate lives of so many young women," said Bowley. "I was a mom, wife and Bible teacher, with no aspirations to do anything outside my bubble of a life."
Bowley's life forever changed when a man in her church told her about a woman in a desperate situation who needed help. Her eyes were quickly opened to the plight of young women "struggling against the storms." Out of this story, Wellspring Living was birthed.
Today, Wellspring Living serves 100 women and girls annually and nearly 400 of them have graduated from the different program offerings, including: a recovery home for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, an outpatient counseling center and a safe place for women escaping from unsafe situations.
In 2008, Wellspring launched a program for child survivors of forced prostitution and sex trafficking. The White Umbrella tells the heartbreaking stories of these survivors in addition to the stories of those who came alongside to help them towards recovery.
"To me, a white umbrella is the perfect symbol. The color white represents purity—the purity these girls still possess and the motivation we have to help them recover it," said Bowley. The book offers principles and guidance to anyone with a heart for the cause of human trafficking and a desire to help. Profits from book sales will enable Wellspring Living to continue confronting the issues of childhood sexual abuse and exploitation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary Frances Bowley is a leading voice in the fight against child sex trafficking. Recently, the White House Blue Campaign called on her to share her expertise in putting an end to the sexual exploitation of children. Bowley is also the author of A League of Dangerous Women.
RECOMMENDED QUESTIONS FOR MARY FRANCES BOWLEY
1. You were a wife and mom from Peachtree City, Ga., the golf cart capital of the South. But one day, the mission of your life completely changed. What happened?
2. You started Wellspring Living to help women and girls recovering from sexual exploitation. What programs do you offer to help them?
3. We often hear how sex trafficking is a problem overseas. How extensive is it in the States?
4. Can you talk about the idea behind the "white umbrella" metaphor? What does it mean in practical terms to stand with these women and girls "in the storms"?
5. What's the biggest misconception people have about victims of sexual exploitation?
6. Your book says that for victims of sexual exploitation, "Recovery is messy but filled with second chances." What do you mean?
7. What's the most important thing we need to keep in mind when helping victims toward recovery? What works?
8. What doesn't work?
9. Worldwide, the sex trade is second only to the drug industry as the world's leading criminal enterprise. What can we possibly do to turn the tide, both locally and globally?
10. What's your best advice to someone who wants to start an organization like Wellspring?
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SOURCE Wellspring Living