How do we restore a nation? What can business leaders or individuals do to stem the rushing tide of unrest, division, depression, suicide, addiction, human trafficking, and abuse? We start by valuing individuals and creating policies that allow them to thrive. We must identify problems, root causes, and potential solutions to help empower hurting individuals so they may flourish, regardless of past experiences. One person cannot solve all problems, but we can all do something. Krista Hull, Founder and Executive Director of the Redeem and Restore Center, works to support victims of sexual trafficking and educates business leaders, law enforcement officers, and others on how to recognize and prevent this devastating assault on humanity. Human trafficking (for sex and labor) has reached epic levels and is present in small towns and big cities across America. Don’t think it cannot touch your town or your family! Listen as Krista shares tips with Linda on how to recognize abusers and provides preventive measures to protect potential victims. Krista also discusses ways to provide support and encourage healing for trafficked individuals. Restoring a nation requires that we lovingly help restore lives of citizens who have experienced the horrors of crime, abuse, and trafficking. We must stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves and we must support policies that will bring this horrific assault on humanity to an end. Restoring lives will help to restore a nation.
© Copyright 2021, Prosperity 101, LLC
For information and resources visit: https://prosperity101.com
If you enjoy this podcast, please consider becoming a sponsor. Contact us today!
Linda J Hansen: Thank you for joining us today. Krista Hull is the Founder and Executive Director of the Redeem and Restore Center, whose mission is to support and encourage women escaping from sex trafficking and to help them build a foundation of healing and success. Fueled with God’s compassion, Krista’s desire to help hurting women stems from her own experiences. She is also a Chaplain, a Crisis Intervention Specialist, and alumna of the FBI Citizens Academy, and Waukesha County (WI) Sheriff’s Academy. She has a passion to help people identify warning signs, to serve and support victims, and to understand how sexual trafficking and abuse can be prevented in our homes, businesses, and communities.
Abuse not only hurts the victim, the ripple effects are felt through families, workplaces, and generations. Krista wants to help people move past the pain to find freedom, fulfillment, and purpose.
Helping a nation heal involves healing individuals, and Krista works to do both. I am honored to welcome you, Krista. Thank you for being here.
Krista Hull: Well, thank you so much for the invite. I appreciate it.
Linda: Well, I think you are doing a really important work and I know the listeners would love to hear a little bit about your own personal story and what led you to start the Redeem and Restore Center.
Krista: Sure. Definitely. My story definitely is how I got to where I am because this was not my plan. This was not my dream for my lifework, but it is where I have been led. I was born into a very abusive relationship. My mother married the father of the child because that’s what she did at the time, but that did not last very long, of course. And so I was left with my seventeen-year-old mother who had experienced a lot of emotional and physical abuse. Because of that there was much detachment between her and I. So basically I have known well abandonment and loneliness since the beginning of my life.
In fifth grade things started to change in many ways, mostly good. My mom had met another man and married him. He came with a daughter and a son, which were my sister and brother, close in age. So on the weekends and for three summers, I had a family and it was wonderful, the best years of my life even though at the very same time that started, an older boy began to sexually abuse me. I, of course, like normal, didn’t tell anyone. So as you get older, you experience things, your hormones and the boys chasing the girls and the girls chasing the boys.
Then by high school, I was already more vulnerable because I saw through that, what happened to me as a child and then also, the porn magazines stacked up at my uncle’s house that I went to regularly. I took in this image of this is what men want. If I want men to like me, I have to let them do certain things to me. And so because of that and choices I made because of the subconscious understandings, I had a ton of shame in high school and in years, many, many years later as well.
Eventually I got married and I finally started to deal with that, all of that garbage, as I got married. Then once I had two kids, some more of that garbage had to be dealt with and really still years because I thought I was fine. I didn’t know how much it impacted me. Yes, I knew those were terrible circumstances, but I didn’t know how it affected me in my daily relationships with others—how I viewed myself, how I thought others saw me. So it impacted me greatly.
Anyhow, moving fast forward. Again, running a non-profit was not a dream of mine. It was just a thing that came about in my journey as I was really seeking God for what He really made me for. I thought He said we would have more in this life. I was okay. I had a family. I had two kids. Nothing was horrible. Nothing was spectacular, but you know an average good life.
And through that journey of really just seeking God and asking Him for direction, it began a lot more healing and also looking for how He was going to use me for others—women, victims, boys, girls, all of them—that have been sexually abused and then actually sold as a product. That goes to another whole complex level of trauma and again the time, the age, all of that, impacts that. There is really hardly anyone else in this world that has experienced that level of trauma other than people in concentration camps. And so they are the most abused, the most rejected, the most lonely, the most abandoned. I believe how I get to be used and lead others is, we’ve all experienced some kind of abandonment, some type of rejection, some type of loneliness. Yes, not to the extremes they have. We don’t have to feel everything that they felt to help them, to support them, to be in their corner. We just have to acknowledge that those are real things and that the level and the intensity of those traumas and those pains mean they really need a lot more support than even I did in trying to heal. And so that’s really where my heart is—how can I support them? How can I empower them? How can I walk alongside them and how can I bring others to walk alongside them so they can find out who they really are, see their real value and become all that they were created to be?
Linda: That’s beautiful. That’s just a beautiful story of turning a tragedy into triumph as well. So often when we hurt, we often think things have to be perfect in our lives in order for us to help others. But when we hurt or when we have these scars and pains, it’s actually what helps us to have that compassion with others and helps them be able to be vulnerable enough to reach us, to be able to open up to us so we can offer help. That is really amazing.
You talked about the long journey it took, that things unfold; things like this never get fixed in a moment. They don’t get fixed in a week. They unfold and that trauma that you experience as a child or a young person or any person sold as a product and sold into slavery, human slavery, or sexual trafficking, that emotional trauma is just horrendous and it will never go away. So the secret is helping them find freedom and a grace and to forgive themselves and others and to be able to put it as part of the tapestry of their entire life.
Do you have recommendations for those who have, right now they might be listening and their hearts are hurting, their hearts are hurting? Maybe they are the abused. Maybe they were the abuser. Maybe they loved someone who was abused, whatever. What words would you give them?
Krista: Well, first, leading into that I want to say that, I did mention about walking along beside them, because the sex trafficking is not just sexual abuse and it’s not just emotional; it’s mental, relational, spiritual. It affects every part of what makes us human and it shatters all of it. It makes it look a chaotic mess that you can’t see straight, think straight, believe straight, understand straight. It destroys what makes you beautiful. So anyone who has in any level being even like me, just being sexually abused or/and mistreated or misused by others, again, even if it is sexual, it is still again, all those pieces are connected—the mental, the emotional, the spiritual.
As you said, there is no quick fix and it is so hard to believe the truth. You can hear it and believe it about other people that, “Oh, wow! They got through that. That’s great!” But, “I’m this,” or but, “I’m dirt,” or “I’m trash.” There are so many times that I hear those who have been victims use words that…they’ll accept parts of the truth, but the other truths they discount or put away because they’re so deep inside of what they truly believe that they can’t even see it.
So again, it can take years and you need to find a real counselor. If you don’t have a good support system or relationships that you can be really vulnerable and authentic with, then you definitely must have a good trauma counselor at least and then possibly look into finding some kind of a group support. Depending upon where you are, there are a few options out there, but there’s not a lot for that. But anyhow finding that support because you can’t do it yourself, because you will self-sabotage. You won’t be able to see everything. You will believe the lies. You need other people to see your value in you. It’s too hard to see it through all the mess and then the bad choices you made, the mistakes you made on top of what was done to you. And so you need others to begin to help to peel layers away so that you can find what the real truth is and who you really are and begin to see that you have value and that there is hope and greater purpose for you.
Linda: That’s beautiful. Right now I’m thinking, too, as we talked earlier. This podcast talks a lot about policies—policies that affect businesses, that affect jobs, that affect families. I know my heart and the hearts of many have been broken as we have watched in horror at the rise of human trafficking happening at our border—the child sex trafficking, the human trafficking through the cartels at our border. I keep thinking of all of the people who for generations now are going to be hurt and damaged emotionally.
This is just so painful. So helping people to be aware of 1.) What types of policies do we need in our local, state, and federal governments to help protect people from sexual trafficking even happening? But then, are there types of policies that would be helpful for businesses, individuals, communities to help the survivors? And then what would you tell businesses and community members of how to identify and prevent sexual trafficking or sexual abuse situations that they may know nothing about?
Krista: That’s a lot of question in there.
Linda: I could ask them one at a time. I’ll go back to them, but these are good…
Krista: I’m definitely not the expert on those who are trying to get into our country. I have definitely heard the horrific reports. Again, so let’s just back up a little bit first and lay the groundwork of what is trafficking? So trafficking is someone who’s got vulnerability and that can be anything. That can even be dreams, like the dream of a free country, the dream of making more money in our country, or the dream of going to another state. It can be sexual abuse. It can be drugs. It can be poverty. I mean, it’s almost endless what our vulnerabilities can be.
So vulnerability, and then someone over here going, “Aah. I see an opportunity.” Manipulation, and often, most often, all human trafficking, especially in the United States is through a relationship. So it isn’t stealing our kids off the corners or from the Walmarts. It is building a connection and relationship, which is often first through social media. Then this more, the immigration part starting with that is, here we have families desperate to find something better for their family, desperate for looking at making more than just a couple of dollars in a week and looking to America, the land of the free, and prosperity because of the capitalism and the free choices that we have. So they get these people who will say they will be sponsors, which we’ve been hearing that often is cartel. They don’t even know who these sponsors are. They are just hoping, because again, they are desperate for something better for their kids, and they send them to strangers …
Linda: It’s heartbreaking.
Krista: …hoping that they are really going to care for their kids, and who knows what all is done to those kids, how they are used, and how long their life will be. So that’s the immigration part that breaks my heart.
Most trafficking is happening to our own citizens in the land of the free, because again, as I mentioned, what is vulnerable? We can be vulnerable at any time in our life, but obviously up to the age of twenty-five, we are most vulnerable. We can even have all the right answers. We can know the signs and red flags of manipulation and bad relationships. We can be trained in all of that, but because we are under twenty-five, we are not physically and emotionally fully developed, or mentally fully developed yet by age till twenty-five. So that’s a huge vulnerability and a huge amount of population, right?
What about our college students going in and modeling or going to a strip club to look for extra money? Again, and then making these connections, having these more vulnerabilities, that someone else can manipulate and then use them for their purposes. Then once they are raped once, raped twice, raped by multiple people, how do you walk away from that and where do you go? Let’s see, when something terrible happens, do you remember what shame feels like? Have you remembered experiencing shame and how it can hold you captive or keep you locked behind a wall because it’s so scary to walk through that? So that’s why even when it started, even if there aren’t external threats, that shame alone can keep you trapped. And then the longer you’re in it, the longer you’re trapped, the more you believe what they say, the more you believe this is all you’re good for, the more you believe this is normal. Or if it started when you’re a kid, this is very normal. There is nothing different. I don’t know anything different.
Just because you turn twenty-five or twenty-one, it doesn’t go, “Oh, I’m an adult now. I’m going to go do something else.” No, if it started when you were a child, you don’t just have a light turn on; you do what’s normal. So I often talk about, we all have different normals. Again we make judgments upon others based on our normals. We see things with other people and we make judgments in what we see based on what we know and what we’ve experienced. But yet we don’t know what they’ve experienced or what they went through.
Now I’m not talking about just a free pass for everyone who starts drugs, steals things or anything. I’m just saying there’s more to the story and sometimes they need support. Sometimes they really just need someone to see them. Because I talk about the people that get abused in any kind of way or neglected and rejected, the thing that them and all of us who have had more normal lives still crave, is to be known, seen, and heard, to be valued. That’s why we make all these social media connections looking for someone to see me, hear me, think something good of me, because we’re not getting enough in real connection relationships in person.
So anyhow I’ve kind of moved away and I’ll try to move back. Your question, too, was for businesses. We’ve trained hotel staff—hospitality—because traffickers, where do they have these appointments? Where do they schedule these? Well, sometimes on street corners, but nowadays there are a lot less street corners for pimps and prostitutes, as we all know. There are a lot of them, because we have the lovely internet that is an excellent tool for many things. They use that for many different websites and blogs to share information, to make connections, and also to set up appointments for homes and hotels.
So for traveling, you can look ahead and you can make appointments to meet at a hotel off the highways. Highways are always big areas. Hotels know. People who work in hotels and motels know. Every time I go there and I’ve trained them, they’re like, “Yeah, we’re glad you’re here. We’re just really not sure what to do about it.” They’ve got to run their business. They want to make money. They don’t want to have the cops come all the time because that makes them look bad, in the community. Like, “Why are the cops always there? We don’t want to stay at that place. It’s trouble.” And that has happened. There’s one actually just in Brookfield. I know that was a huge problem there, that and drugs, and they actually closed it because it was hurting their business so bad. Instead of being proactive, they were just trying to pretend it wasn’t and hoped it would go away. But you know, you can’t choose who comes to your place, who books and stays in your rooms. They book; they pay; they’re your costumer.
Well, in training hospitality, well, what are the signs? What can you do? There’s a hotline, of course. So you can put up signs. Now we’re not telling the hospital staff or the cleaning staff to interrupt or call the police right away, because again, not every police officer knows what to do or will believe it because they don’t understand, or they could be ignorant. They might not have been trained. But there’s a hotline. There’s a state hotline and a national hotline that you can call with just a little information.
So I’ll give two examples not related to hospitality, but now again, for any business. There recently was a retail store—a regular retail store in our area—that has a security staff and all different age groups that work there. Some young guy came in and eventually over, I think a couple of days, came in and approached every young girl that worked there, trying to pass over this relationship connection and just smooth in there, “Well, I’ve got this great opportunity.” Now he didn’t describe to them what it was going to be, but he hinted and said, “You don’t make much here,” because in retail generally you’re not making a huge pay. So he’s offering, “I’ve got a great opportunity. If you come with me, I’ll show you. You can make a lot of money.” So one of them told the security officer and then he went and talked to all the girls and found out he tried the same story on every girl. Now we have a lot of retail businesses. Again, a vulnerability, right? “I’m not making a ton of money.” There’s a vulnerability. You can always make more, right?
Krista: He was not successful at this location, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t find someone desperate enough to say yes at some other location, and/or he could get smarter and start to get to know them and build that relationship first so there’s a little bit of like and connection and then introduce that better opportunity to manipulate them. So again, it’s that same thing: vulnerability and someone willing to manipulate. That obviously makes it quite complex because I just gave examples of different ways it can look.
Another one, working at a restaurant; how about you work at a diner. What do you do when you are a waitress or you are a hostess or whatever? You are friendly with your customers. You want them to have a good time, be happy, smile, and sometimes, some chit chat a lot more and then they even ask about you and ask about your information. So then there’s been times when they’ll send in someone who maybe is even a way bit older, more safe to readily tell things to. Then they could send in a younger guy and start to get to chit chat and then use that information that they already know about you to draw you in and manipulate you and get you to trust them. That’s happened as well.
A girl on the cheerleading team, she’s recruited the whole cheerleading team to do what she was being manipulated to do. Why? Because she’s a horrible person? Or she was trying to survive. She was doing what she needed to do to so she could survive, because that’s what was asked of her. So again the stories are endless…
Krista: …on manipulation, endless on vulnerability. So with businesses, what I recommend, we can do training. There are other companies that do training. So you can contact us and we can find someone to help you. But there are red flags to notice. Really just training your people and even if it doesn’t happen at your work. What about if it happens to their kid? What if it happens to their family and how that’s going to affect your business, because it does?
I work with women in multiple counties—not just in the inner city, and actually, none of them are in the inner city—multiple counties, small towns where they’ve been trafficked. Again, it can be anywhere. What do you think that does to your family knowing? Just think about it. What if it was your niece or your daughter or your son that was being sold for sex? Even if it was a week or a month or years and you had no idea what had happened, and here you just thought your child made these terrible decisions and became a drug addict or what. Again, multiple stories of what it could be.
So if we can have, we can train and teach anyone—business leaders, families, communities—what these red flags are and also get us to start paying attention to others that are struggling around us, than maybe we can help stop or protect it from happening to more people.
Linda: That is beautiful and I really, I actually used to work in the hospitality industry—restaurants and hotels—and this is one area, too, where I really became more aware of this happening underneath our noses in a sense. I’m thankful for where I did work. We did have some training on this. It wasn’t through you, but we had some training to learn to recognize and then understanding. We might be talking about the same place in Brookfield, that there was this hotel that became well known for what was happening there. Every time I went by, I would just pray that the Lord would stop it, that He would stop it. You had no idea what was really happening, but I knew something.
So at that time, too, when I became more aware, I got involved in different ministries that would help fight sexual trafficking, but also help support the victims. I’m so grateful for all the people who support these types of ministries and Redeem and Restore, we hope that they will obviously support your ministry. It’s an important work. Going into the businesses, helping train employers, and helping educate employees about all these warning signs, you’re not just helping a business. You’re helping hundreds, thousands of families. You’re helping children. You’re helping all the aunts, uncles, cousins. You’re helping thousands of people by doing these trainings. It’s so important and it helps to take, I would say, the stigma off of it, because this happens.
I know several towns—small towns, you mentioned small towns, small towns in Wisconsin—where I’ve heard so many cases where there’s a young woman, one in particular. They found her in an old farmhouse and she was being transported back and forth around three counties in Wisconsin and forced to have sex with people multiple days per week and she was just a traveling object for them. How many millions of young men and women have endured such horror and anything we can do to help them? You mentioned that it hurts businesses. It hurts businesses, but it hurts our nation, because when we have generations of hurting individuals, we can’t be the strong parents, the strong citizens, the strong entrepreneurs or anything. We have that part in us that is broken.
We all have things. You mentioned things that everybody suffers with, different issues. We all have loneliness,
Linda: We all have abandonment
Linda: We have all these different things. It’s part of the human condition…
Linda: …that we all experience pain. You bring up a really good point of this is a very unique type of trauma and pain and whether it is sexual abuse that doesn’t involve trafficking or whether it is trafficking, it involves that trauma. Maybe you could talk a little bit too about how trauma tends to affect the victim. Obviously the aggressor is affected and has deep wounds and needs that need to be addressed in order to become a healthy person, but the victim…I know I’ve heard so often that sometimes when it’s childhood sexual abuse or in the teen years, whatever, it’s almost like when people start using drugs of drinking, their emotional maturity kind of stops at that point.
Krista: Yes. Yes
Linda: So sometimes when there’s been abuse, there is almost like a stunting of emotional growth, so everything they try to do later in life, it’s stunted. It’s held back. Could you address that?
Krista: Yes. You’re definitely correct. So two people that I know well, one girl that I met, she was…the first time hope was held out to her as an opportunity, she was twenty-six years old. She had been sold at eight by her own family.
Krista: So all those years and when I met her and got to know her, she still, she, you know that innocence of an eight year old, even though the life of hell, there was still that innocence of an eight year old on her. My other friend that I’m very close to, she was around fourteen when she was manipulated and sold by an older girl who befriended her and began that life of hell for her. She’s about my age and just a couple of years ago when we connected and started working together, after a couple of years of that, she said, “You know what? I finally feel like a grown up.”
Linda: Oh, that’s beautiful.
Krista: “I finally feel like a grownup” and I’m like, “Wow.” That’s just by us being there, supporting her. She had done so much work. She had come so far over the last fifteen years prior, but it was mostly on her own, a lot more people hurting her and not helping her, but eventually she got through that. But what a crazy thing in your forties to say, “I finally feel like a grownup.” That says a lot. So, yes, so depending on how young you are when the abuse starts. Again, whether it’s trafficking or sexual abuse, if it could be just—I use that so loosely—sexual abuse making you super vulnerable, but if that is a regular thing when you are a child, yes, that can definitely stop your maturing and your growth and stunt you, because it’s breaking you. It’s shattering who you are…
Krista: …and then obviously the longer you’re in it, then that plays an effect. So the age the extreme abuse starts and how long the abuse happens has a huge effect on how long, how far you can get in being restored. Anyone can be restored, but again you will talk to any survivor and who has been out and been free of that hell and they will say, “Oh, I’m doing well,” but it will be a lifetime, a lifetime of journey. Because just like the junk that we’ve experienced in our family and in our life and things we’ve done, some of that does linger and stretch out and affect us our lifetime. Well, of course it certainly does for victims of sexual abuse and trafficking as well, but no matter the age, no matter how long, restoration is possible. It’s hard to comprehend, because it really is hard to comprehend the hell.
Just think if you know more…I’ve known and studied a lot about concentration camps, that was way before, but there are lots of similarities. It’s hard to imagine how did anyone survive? Most of the time they wanted to kill you, but they wanted you to work. So they would…the worst slave labor ever—don’t want to feed you, don’t want to keep you warm; if you die, well, we have more to replace you with. Yet those so many did survive and watching so many people die around them and beautiful people like Corrie ten Boom and what a gift and a life to so many and so many others …
Krista: …sexual trafficking survivors. It’s the same thing. It’s like, “Wow, I can barely comprehend what you’ve survived and now you are now just surviving, you are a light in this world and bringing hope, and purpose, and freedom for others as well.” It’s such a beautiful thing—restoration.
Linda: That it is.
Krista: That keeps me excited.
Linda: That’s what keeps you excited and that’s why you founded Redeem and Restore. It’s just beautiful because no one is out of the reach of healing especially when they put it in the hands of God as you mentioned before. He’s the ultimate healer. So if anybody is listening…before we move into your website, I just wanted to bring up one key point that you mentioned that I think shatters some paradigms that people may have about sexual abuse or trafficking. You mentioned in two instances, there were girlfriends or girls that were the ones who basically recruited these young girls. We often think or society thinks of this as being obviously a guy seducing a girl or convincing a girl to do this, or whatever, and it’s not always that. It can be gay or straight or anything, and young, old and everything in between, couples, families. I’ve heard of some horrific examples of groups of people, families of people who work together to traffic victims and it’s just heartbreaking. So we can hear these stories and we can say, “Hey, we’d like to learn more.” So for anybody listening, whether you are a business owner, an employer, or maybe you’re just listening and you want to make sure you’re helping your family, your children, your grandchildren. You want to be prepared to be preventing this and to helping those who hurt. So how would they reach out to you?
Krista: They can email me. They can go to our website. Our website is “redeem” and then “and restore” and “and” is spelled out, redeemandrestore.org and my email is Krista@redeemandrestore.
Linda: Yes, and it’s K-R-I-S-T-A so Krista@redeemandrestore.org I thank you so much for taking time for this. Do you have any closing comments or recommendations for the listeners?
Krista: I will say because this is America where we have great American dreams and there are great things that we can accomplish. But sometimes we get so caught up in that “comfortability” that we get to have here in our culture, that we are so self-focused and even just family-focused. So if this isn’t touching you regarding your family that you would still be impacted, that you would pay attention, that this can happen to other people that you know. And don’t just blow it off that it’s not going to happen to you or anyone that you know, because this is real and it’s increasing exponentially. They believe this has surpassed drug trafficking. I believe it’s just going to increase because again just the things that we’ve experienced in this past year—the anxiety, the suicides, the drugs, the trafficking exploit, everything—is skyrocketing in that level because of brokenness and loneliness. So please don’t blow it off and think that you’re okay. Just learn, engage, and do what you are able to do. Talk about it with those that you know and then you’re doing something.
Linda: Absolutely. Raising the awareness and you bring up a good point. Don’t blow it off. It’s often in front of our noses and we don’t know it. The other thing people will often be very good at hiding this whether they are the, well obviously is they are the aggressor, but the victim, too. They don’t know how to deal with it and it doesn’t always show up as clearly as they maybe hope. We’re just really thankful for work. Thank you that you are working together with law enforcement, with the hospitality industry, with other businesses and with these individuals who have a desire to heal and be restored and have their lives redeemed. And we know that Scripture tells us, “God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” There is nothing that God cannot heal. So I just, whether it’s in our nation or families or in our own hearts. So thank you for your work.
Linda: Yes, thank you. Okay. And again, listeners, you can reach her at Krista@redeemandrestore.org. Thank you again, Krista Hull, for joining us today.
Krista: Thank you