A few years ago I attended a presentation on human trafficking, not quite knowing what I was getting myself into. Until that day, I had involved myself in the advocacy realm but not far beyond sexual violence, limiting my knowledge to what I was taught occasionally in school. For some disturbing reason (involving race, class, our criminal justice system, the war on drugs, and more), our society brushes sex trafficking aside as “taboo” and undeserving of attention and resources. Despite it being the fastest growing crime in the world, trafficking is frequently left out of conversations and left unresolved (Equality Now Website). I hope to use my time at Pedal the Pacific to counteract this, engaging in difficult conversations and surrounding myself with the educational tools and resources necessary to combat sex trafficking.
Recently, I’ve been really struggling with finding the words to describe exactly what Pedal the Pacific is, why it exists, and why I’m doing it. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to fully explain why I’m biking 1,700 miles in California and how that possibly connects to sex trafficking prevention, but what I do know for certain is that I’ll be doing it alongside an incredibly welcoming and eager group of women who have nothing less than their whole hearts to give. Another thing I know for certain-- and what has driven me toward this whole experience-- is the body.
Our bodies carry us through this world and help us establish who we are (and let’s hope my body gets me down the California Coast next summer), yet so many people are never even given the opportunity to claim their bodies as their own.
We’ve all had experiences here and there that make us realize how important it is that we are in control of our bodies, but explaining bodily autonomy to someone who has never truly been stripped of it is a difficult thing. In fact, I think a lot of it really can’t be explained. Because trauma is so complex and unique, it makes this type of advocacy difficult and it’s often hard to get people to listen. But because of that, it is so, so important that we continue to fight.
This is what I plan to do throughout my time as part of the 2021 team: I want to use my voice and body to learn more about sex trafficking, spreading awareness, education, and support for survivors. I hope to impress upon others the importance of moving through life with a trauma-informed mindset, understanding that each person carries so much weight and pain and is in the process of healing from something, no matter how big or small. We must go beyond compassion and kindness, and we must use our understanding of trauma to help each other heal. I hope that this (in turn) encourages patience, kindness, and a passion for ensuring that every single person has the tools they need to be in full control of their own body.
So I guess to wrap this up, I still couldn’t really tell you exactly why I’m biking 1700 miles. But what I do know is that it raises money for important organizations while raising awareness for sex trafficking prevention. And I know that it works. Beyond that, I am confident that I will learn so, so much, from the incredible women I get to embark on this journey with.
Thanks for coming along for the ride :)
Staff, Equality Now. 2019. “World Day Against Trafficking in Persons 2019.” Equality Now. Retrieved March 5, 2021 (https://www.equalitynow.org/wdatp_2019).