My name is Patricia Mcknight and I am a Child Exploitation – Child Trafficking Survivor from Freeburg, Illinois beginning around 1973 to 1979. Growing up in this type of forced servitude and sexual servitude taught me to believe I was not worthy of concern or assistance; so many were aware, so many did nothing because we knew nothing about these tragedies. There are generations of children who have endured these human patterns and beliefs from centuries of accepting and tolerating these life-altering, physical, and sexual offenses within our very own families.

Now it is 2017; there is more data on file than ever before about the developed human dysfunctions and harmful behaviors related to trauma. We assist and support our veterans and our those affected by the aftermath of almost every type of traumatic situation, but there is one basic and most severely life-altering type of trauma we are just beginning to discuss in public; the topic of violence, intimidation, entrapment of offenses within our own homes and communities. Hopefully, this letter will change that and help our communities discuss this on a more connected level of support and assistance.  

On August 25th, in O’Fallon; I was the survivor of child trafficking sitting next to Congressman Mike Bost. It was such a huge honor to be a member of the Congressional Human Trafficking Meeting. Many readers may have seen the report on Fox 2 News. Hopefully, we did achieve reaching the community

On that note, permit me to share; I’m afraid I didn’t share the best message during the interview. It was one of those moments, that as I was driving home everything I should have said hit me.

‘There is nothing more important than having these types of community roundtables across the country, in every small community, especially in our rural communities where services are so rare. We cannot expect our communities to heal the violence, drug addictions, self-harming behaviors, bullying, career, and educational challenges, economic impacts, and many other social issues if we cannot address the actions against our children and family members first. All of these are initiated by the effects of trauma. We see it in our war and law enforcement veterans all the time. We support them and help them; yet when it’s in our own family it’s something we’ve all become used to dealing with so we turn away and do nothing. It is time as a human society to look at the levels of violence in our country today; young teens sent to prison for life and an overcrowded prison system as a whole; a society addicted to drugs, alcohol, opioids, heroin, and a cycle of destruction that is boiling over in despair”

The CDC, National Child Traumatic Stress Network, National Post Traumatic Stress Network, and National Institute of Mental Health all have reported; “The trauma caused by long-term violence, sexual harm, and especially trafficking in comparison to what they’ve seen in Concentration Camp Survivors. The levels of Complex Post Traumatic Stress affect everything about that person’s sense of personal safety and identity.”‘

These small community roundtables; meetings with educators, social services, law enforcement, and healthcare professionals will encourage involvement within the community itself. Teachers cannot do this alone. Healthcare cannot, and neither can law enforcement. It will require a change in our teaching, ‘trained’ acceptance, and tolerance of these types of harms and dysfunctions. As a society, with the entire team of family, neighbors, friends, and community resources all working together with a strong focus on the complete healthy development for our children, with life achievements rather than life destructions; this is the very best gift we pass on to the next generation.

Also, I’d really like to thank our Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan; States Attorney Brendan Kelly, and Survivor Scott Cross for pushing forward SB189 – Statute of Limitations for Criminal Sexual Abuse, Criminal Sexual Assault and Exploitation of a Minor. Also known as the ‘Hastert Law’.

Equally grateful to House Representative Jay Hoffman, and all those legislative members who recently approved SB1842 – Updating Statute of Limitations for Involuntary Servitude/Sexual Servitude of a Minor. Hooray to all of them who have worked so hard these past three years. I am so very blessed to have been a part of these efforts.

As I stated I’m a survivor of decades back. My mother and stepfather are now both deceased as of December 2016. I’ve lived the life of a broken soul trying to figure the ‘why’ of what kept happening throughout my adult life. As if I had no control or no ability to make a safe choice in partners and husbands; there was a tolerance of almost deadly domestic violence for twenty years of my adult life. I was thirty-seven, which is the average age, for a person who had been traumatized so horrifically but never received any assistance, counseling, life skills, or family support. I’ve lived the life of burying my terrors and nightmares in alcohol and various types of medications. Today I am disabled by the physical injuries of years past. My spine multiple post-traumatic syringomyelia cystic sacs, multiple broken and cracked bones, post-traumatic concussion syndrome, fibromyalgia, and more. The healthcare costs alone these past ten years have been astronomical through Medicare/Medicaid, so I have become a public burden.

The way I needed to give back was by learning as much as I could about what caused all of my injuries and emotional burdens; the acceptance of cruel and vicious behaviors without ever saying a word to anyone. I needed to help my children understand the conditions that influenced some of their behaviors and choices. I needed to stop the negative influence from affecting my grandchildren’s lives and the lives of other children around me. I had to stop this belief that these types of offenses should ever be tolerated or accepted by any human being, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, geographic or economic location. No one deserves to be harmed or live in terror, especially young children and especially in their homes. In our American Constitution & Universal Declaration of Human Rights; all persons are protected equally under the law. The right to be free from harm and free from the fear of harm.

Statistics have shown over the past decade that 93% of all maltreatments against children happen by a parent or close family member. Of the more than 3.7+ million reports of child maltreatment across the country every year, only 1.2 million ever receive an investigation or any type of intervention. We need to change this by providing a Community Response Team in every small community where all members are watching out for each other, old and young. A team where kids can talk to kids about bullying, school challenges, or other types of family challenges. A team where parents talk to parents, survivors talk to survivors, and families learn to alter the huge negative life influence of these offenses.

Please permit me to share……

I’m creating a team service through Butterfly dreams Abuse Recovery in Breese, Illinois. Today I am a self-educated, researcher of facts and behaviors. I am a Certified Domestic Violence Advocate & Certified Human Trafficking Trainer. I’ve presented at universities, legislative meetings, churches, and other community venues. I helped educate foster parents and direct care workers in what happened, why the behavior, empowering the survivor. We have many great services in Southern Illinois, however, our belief and acceptance tell us never to say a word and that trying to find any help is a sign of weakness. How many millions of lives and families have been wounded or ended by these beliefs? Join our September 9th event; Butterfly Dreams Summer Social & Benefit Run. This is to raise awareness, show public support, and help raise the funds necessary to begin this work.

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