When Elizabeth Smart testified last week against her captor, she had a lot to say about the details of her 9-month ordeal, but not so much about why she never tried to escape. As Slate.com discusses, Elizabeth likely stayed put due to pure fear — an act of self-preservation common to those victimized by sex trafficking and other predatory crimes. Inspired by stories like Elizabeth’s, the Not One More Child movement seeks to protect kids from ever having to experience that fear.
At the age of 14, Elizabeth was stolen from her home and forced to play the role of one of Brian David Williams’ “celestial wives,” a term that, for the victim, was nowhere near as mystical as it sounded. She was tied to a tree for a month and raped every day, her will weakened by physical force, alcohol and verbal abuse. And she was kept well-hidden, sequestered from the outside world and well-disguised when out in public. Young, impressionable and lacking the resources necessary for escape, Elizabeth was easily kept captive with not only the abuse she endured, but the simplest, most hard-hitting, easiest-to-believe threat: If she ran, Williams would kill her family.
Tactically speaking, predators like sex traffickers are Brian David Williams’ second cousins. Where Williams sought God’s glory (or whatever other motive existed in his deranged mind) through control of his victim, pimps seek profit. But their means are quite similar. Sex trafficking victims are raped daily by their clients, and their wills are also weakened by drugs, beatings, verbal thrashings, isolation and meaningful threats. Individuals forced into prostitution often remain quiet and do not attempt escape for the same, simple reason as Elizabeth Smart: fear.
Not One More Child (NOMC) wants kids to be anything but quiet and afraid. Forged from a partnership between radKIDS, Inc. and The Joyful Child Foundation (TJCF), and supported by the Surviving Parents Coalition — an organization of which Elizabeth Smart’s father, Ed, is a member — NOMC takes a two-pronged approach to achieve that goal.
Marrying the philosophies of its counterparts, NOMC calls on both the adults of a given community to look out for its children, and the children, to look out for themselves. TJCF’s program training teaches parents, law enforcement, educators and other concerned citizens to maintain, in the words of Mad-Eye Moody, “constant vigilance” in protecting neighborhood children from predators. Covering any gaps in that vigilance, radKIDS teaches children to “resist aggression defensively” with self-defense maneuvers, awareness and confidence. It’s an empowering program that Elizabeth Smart’s own siblings have completed themselves.
The NOMC movement is helping communities of every size throughout the country mobilize to fight all forms of predatory and exploitive crimes against children. To get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.