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I Saw You

How Anti-Human Trafficking Efforts Work (4)

I saw you.

I saw your small form propped on a bar stool, young legs too short to reach the ground.  You were out of place in this loud bar in the middle of the night. Tourists pushed their way through the open restaurants and crowds that spilled into the streets. Good money had been paid to have this holiday, where what happens in Bali stays in Bali. Beer and bad decisions flowed freely. I don’t think a single one of them noticed you there. Far too young to be in that kind of place at that kind of hour.

I saw you.

I saw you with your face turned toward the street as the person in charge of you hungrily scanned the crowd to see who would eventually notice you. Who came all the way here just to feed on your soul and ravage your body. Pretending to study the bar’s menu, I watched you. I was hoping to find a reason to think I was wrong. Maybe a parent with horrible judgment would appear and take you someplace you deserved to be. No parent came.

I saw you.

I saw that your blank stare never changed for the minutes that I studied you. Even when I looked you full in the face and smiled, hoping that at least you would know that somebody saw you, somebody who would ask nothing of you. But you stared right through me. I realized that you were stoned. Not yet out of elementary school and stoned. Oddly, I was thankful because at least you might not remember what must have happened to you last night after I left.

I saw you.

I saw your image even as I closed my eyes to sleep, tears on my pillow. I wanted to tell you to hold on because rescue is coming! But even if I had the opportunity to speak to you and even if you had the ability to hear me, it would have been a lie. I don’t know if rescue is coming. I don’t know if it will come quick enough for you here in Bali. I don’t know if you will be lost like the countless other children to this insidious black market of young bodies. I don’t know if you will ever make it out alive.

I just wish that you knew that last night…

I saw you.


(As an organization primarily focused on equipping those on the frontlines, we honor those on the frontlines: law enforcement, social workers, and caregivers who experience these kinds of stories over and over and yet continue to love and serve victims and survivors with their whole hearts. While they work to identify and rescue girls like this one (a real experience from a coalition member), we support them by providing training on important topics like trauma, victim identification, victim-centered interviewing, and secondary trauma. To partner with Dark Bali in order to serve all of our coalition partners, contact us or become a financial partner.)

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