TODAY’S GIVEAWAY: A $10 Amazon gift card & a beautiful little bracelet. HIT RAFFLECOPER GIVEAWAY AT THE END OF THE POST TO ENTER. If you missed any other days, it’s not too late. Go back and enter those as well.
Could I have done more?
“Hurry, up. Just pick any soap. Do you like bar soap or body wash? It doesn’t matter, And we can come back anytime and get whatever else you need.”
A teen boy stared at the product shelves, not answering.
The man who spoke was anxious, not nurturing, and the boy looked to be about fifteen years old. He stared straight ahead. His eyes empty.
My stomach flipped.
A heavy-set, middle-aged man was doing the talking. Both the nice-looking teen and the man were well-groomed, clean, but casually dressed. Still, I had a sickening feeling. The man was caressing the boy’s back and stroking his slicked-back hair.
They left the aisle, and I followed them to the register. The man continued the over-friendly gestures and began whispering in the boy’s ear. The boy ignored him, slightly pulling away.
I felt sick.
They checked out quickly, and as I did the same, I watched them walk through the parking lot, and I prayed. “Dear, God, protect that boy.”
I stood outside the store, wishing I could do something. I went home and told my husband. We prayed, and still, I felt awful. When I read a chapter of Shattered Guilt to my critique group that night, I shared the incident. One woman, not judgingly, but challengingly said, “Did you say something?” I shook my head, and she blurted, “I would have! I would have followed the guy.”
I could have done something. Knowledge fuels courage. Recently, I spoke with my friend, who is experienced in dealing with trafficking victims. When I relayed this story, she told me awareness is so important. She encouraged me that taking notice was a huge step in the fight. But there’s more. If I knew that I was possibly witnessing these real signs of victim abuse, and that is wasn’t just my paranoid mind, perhaps I would have been brave enough to do something.
I wrote earlier this week about how my husband called the sheriffs when he encountered suspicious activity (Release Week Day 2 Blog Post). That’s what I should have done, but I had no evidence. A hunch. That’s all. But maybe, like in my husband’s encounter, the authorities might have already already been watching this guy. If I had reported a license plate or a description, perhaps the information could have linked to an existing investigation. Or I could have just asked if the boy needed help. To this day, I wished I’d done something. If I’d known the signs, maybe I would have been bold enough to follow my gut.
Thankfully, God’s sovereignty abounds, and when I can’t, won’t, or haven’t done more, I know God is always at work. With or without me, thy will be done. Still, I don’t want to miss an opportunity to help someone when God has called me to do so. I know God’s grace abounds, even in this sinful, fallen world, and I still pray for that boy, but not without some remorse.
Through it all, I’ve learned of things we can actively do. Praying, of course, is active, as is looking for signs. There are many things we can look for in victims and situations. Some of the obvious signs were not entirely evident in my situation. Although, depressed, withdrawn or detached is one, and the boy I saw clearly displayed that. neglect and abuse. I’ll post a document later this week, and a link to a website that gives us clues to look for. It lists characteristics to watch for in both the perpetrator and the victim.
You can skip this part if you haven’t read the book.
In Shattered Guilt, the main character, Melanie, struggles with trusting God in a difficult situation. She takes matters into her own hands and goes looking for a missing teen, her daughter’s friend. I admit, this action is a bit sensational, but it is a work of fiction and one I hope you’ll enjoy.
Finding another alley, she kept darting in and out of buildings, but didn’t stop to look, didn’t stop to catch her breath. When she heard no more footsteps, she curved down a wide alley. It opened to a street with nothing but piles and piles of debris. Everything looked the same. Suddenly another turn took her onto a paved, wide asphalt street. Pumping her arms and legs, her long strides carried her a considerable distance. Before she knew it, she was back at the corner where she’d bought the jewelry. Melanie saw the girl walking down the street.
“Help! Please!” Melanie yelled, running toward her.
The girl picked up her pace, but the chair and TV tray slowed her down. She looked back over her shoulder.
“Verona! Please, help me!”
Melanie stopped, bent over, and rested her hands on her knees, trying to catch her breath. She looked up, and Verona had dropped her goods and was yelling and pointing.
Melanie, still hunched, raised her head just as her tour driver’s car screeched to a halt, almost hitting her. Before she could gain her balance, she fell hard on the rubble. The tour guide jumped out and grabbed her, and threw her in the car.
Like I said in my You Tube. It’s not something I’d do, but in a fictional setting, Melanie is what heroes are made of!
More exciting excerpts to come.
I hope you’ll check back tomorrow for another giveaway, another excerpt from Shattered Guilt, and some vital information from a friend who has fought this crime for over thirty years.
Please enter the drawing by clicking Rafflecopter Giveway below. I won’t use your email for anything other than contacting you if you’ve won, but if you want to sign up for my monthly newsletter, you can do that right here on my website. Thanks again for celebrating the release of Shattered Guilt with me.