It is a daily happening most of us don’t know about or even see happening, but it may taking place in your neighborhood or subdivision.
In back rooms, secluded homes, or even in broad daylight on the streets all over the Mid-South, young girls and women are being bartered and sold to those hungry for sex. They have been caught into the web of human sex trafficking, having gone missing and are being sold into slavery for sex and prostitution.
A faith-based organization in DeSoto County, R3TheMovement, has been actively working the stop the spread of human sex slavery and help the girls, women, and also some boys and men, break away and restart their lives.
The group, founded by Alan and Tina Tatum, has planned an event for Saturday to share what it is doing to that end and solicit support from the community.
From 4:30-8 p.m. Coffee Central at 5627 Getwell Road in Southaven will open up beyond its normal closing time for an afternoon and evening of what is being termed as “Concerts, Conversation and Coffee,” under the title of “FR3E.”
Tina Tatum said it will be “an acoustic time where people can come and go as they please,” hear Christian music, hear from people who have been affected by human sex trafficking and how they escaped, and learn what can be done to help stop it.
There are global estimates that as many as 2.5 million people are forcibly detained in what is a $32 billion industry. Men get caught and are placed into hard labor situations, while women are snared into the industry for sex, prostitution and pornography.
Tatum points out the sex trade happens not only in the “red light districts” of major cities, but even in affluent Bible Belt places such as DeSoto County.
“It’s internet and hotel-based here in DeSoto County,” Tatum said. “Social media and pornography fuels the industry and the opioid epidemic has the bad guys out getting money to feed their habit.”
A.C. Curtis, who is the R3TheMovement’s Director of Rescue, added, “Young girls get coerced into it. We’re exposing the bad guys’ methods because it’s all around us.”
Tatum points out the growth of social media makes it easy for predators to troll for girls who appear to have poor self-esteem and are looking for companionship.
“There’s also something called ‘love bombing,’” Tatum said. Love bombing is an attempt to influence someone by demonstrations of attention and affection.
Love bombing started with the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon in the 1970s to entice people into their cult. Today, predators use the practice toward getting the confidence of a girl and then make them a victim of the sex trade.
Much the initial connection comes no further than the mobile phone or smartphone the victims carry on a daily basis.
“The cell phone can be like a loaded gun,” Curtis pointed out.
Tatum and Curtis added R3TheMovement works to identify who is being held by “the bad guys,” as they say, then attempts a “rescue,” which Curtis said is done completely within the bounds of the law.
“We work with law enforcement,” Curtis said. “We even are told by judges what we can and cannot do and that’s what we do.”
The organization does other activities during the year to raise awareness and promote the cause, such as Internet Safety 101 events and outreach in areas that may foster the capture and bondage of others for sex. Tatum also speaks at conferences.
The “3” in the name stands for what R3TheMovement tries to do; “Reach, Rescue, Redeem,” with the final part of the formula meaning to offer the redeeming word of Jesus Christ.
Among those providing the music at Saturday’s event will be Jeff Hamrick, Michael Lacy, Chad Allen, Jacob Davis, Sarah Mae and the Summit Band.
For more information on R3TheMovement, visit the website r3themovement.org or search R3TheMovement on Facebook and Twitter.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.