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How One Moment Can Destroy A Life – The Real World & Sex Trafficking

Written by Tiffany H

Sex Trafficking.

A horrible, despicable, disgusting thing that happens in other countries. Parents sell their children so they can eat. Orphans plucked off the street. Women without protection, family, or home lulled by the promise of a better life.

It’s an evil that is rampant and diabolical and will someday, mark my words, be avenged by the Creator of the World. But it doesn’t happen here. Not in America.


How I wish that were right. How I wish I could wipe it from the face of the earth, along with all the other ungodly, evil, heart-breaking things that take place this side of Heaven.

The last few weeks I’ve been watching my Facebook feed explode with accounts of suspected sex trafficking incidents – IN MY AREA. Not just my country. Not just my state, but in my general area. According to law enforcement, considering we are ‘close to the border’, apparently we have become convenient targets.

It’s easy not to believe something like this. Until it happens to you.

I can’t say for sure that what happened to me was sex trafficking, but I can say for certain it wasn’t normal and there was something eerily wrong about it. The more I hear about the other incidents the more aware I become of just how quickly your life can be turned upside down if you are either unaware, too trusting or too preoccupied. Parents! Wake up! Stop walking around the grocery store glued to your phone, assuming that your 3 year old is tagging along behind you. Stop being so flustered by your Facebook, or family/friend drama, or how long waiting in line is taking instead of noticing the stranger who seems to be everywhere you are and has been watching your littles for the last half hour. Waking up NOW is going to be a lot less painful than afterwards when your arms are empty and the police are “doing all they can”, but have little to no leads.

A few weeks ago, while Hubby was at work, I packed up my one year old and drove to our local, out in the middle of nowhere, Amish store. I have a routine of what food I get where, depending on the quality, price and convenience. At this store, I needed to stock up on lots of ‘heavy’ stuff like butter, raw cheese, meat, local honey and/or maple syrup. That’s hard to do with a 1 year old, so I buckled him in his stroller and packed items where I could fit them. This particular time it was semi-busy, so there was lots of bustling going on around the store. For some reason, my senses were alerted around two tall, slender, middle-aged white men holding a couple small items each. I felt watched and uncomfortable. One had scars or a birth mark all over his face. As I made my way around them, he stopped me, ooing and awing about how cute my baby was. It felt odd as normally I would get that from kids, other mamas, or older women reminiscing when their baby boys weren’t 6’2 and 220 pounds. Men usually just ignore us, or at most smile, state a quick compliment and go on about their business. I acknowledged the compliment with a smile and moved away as he stood there watching us. After that, they seemed to be everywhere I was, just hanging around and browsing. I quickly decided I was done and got in line.

Suddenly they were right behind me, the man with scars still ooing and now asking questions – what’s his name, how old, etc. He tried stroking his hand. My sweet little charmer pulled away, looked at the guy, looked at me and started loud bawling. What does that do to a mama who’s already uncomfortable with the situation? That paired with how close the other guy was standing behind me made me move to be a barrier and stand beside the stroller. At this point the hair was standing up on my arms. I paid and walked quickly to the truck. By the time I had him in my arms, they were again right behind me, and I realized they had two vehicles – parked on BOTH sides of our truck. They stood right behind the truck for a few minutes, just talking. At that point I made eye contact with the man with the scars, so he was fully aware that I was aware of him and unhappy with his presence. I contemplated walking back into the store, but that moment was when another large family came walking over to the vehicle next to their car. He met my gaze, then jumped in the unmarked white van on my right side and took off. The other man got in the smaller hatchback and also left.

I got Baby buckled in, the groceries and stroller in, and sat there in the parking lot with the A/C on and doors locked, trying to get my heart-rate to slow down, contemplating what just happened. I don’t know that it was anything. Maybe it was just a couple of guys that met to get curds and trinkets at the local Amish store. I don’t know. What I do know is, in the weeks after this incident, there were several accounts from young moms with young kids locally, at Target, at Walmart, at large bulk stores like Sam’s/BJ’s – involving two suspicious white men and an unmarked white van.

And what I do know is that if this WAS something and I would’ve just assumed that these were normal, trustworthy people, thereby not having my guard up, there were a dozen different moments where our lives could’ve been turned upside down.

Moral to even telling this story… You don’t know who people are. Sometimes you don’t even know who they are when they’ve been friends for ages. But God knows their heart and we can trust Him. He did not create us to live in fear (2 Timothy 1:7), but He trusted us with these precious babies and it is our JOB to be vigilant. Discerning. Ever-watchful for and over their safety and care. Don’t go out in public with your guard down, expecting that you’re going to pull back into your driveway tonight with your fussy, crazy, amazing toddler in the back. I believe as soon as we take for granted what we have is when we are most open to losing it.

God help us to be aware, strong Mamas and Daddies. Dear God, help those parents who are suffering with this fate, and help and protect those innocent littles who were stolen from their homes and loved ones. My heart breaks just thinking of their heartbreak.

Please know I’m NOT saying this only happens to ignorant, uncaring parents. This can happen to ANYONE. We need to do and be everything we can be RIGHT NOW to prevent it on our end. God help us until the day He returns to avenge the innocent and wipe every tear away from the faces of His believers.

About the author

Tiffany H

Hi! I'm Tiffany, mama to the handsomest little boy and sweetest little girl, and wife to the best man ever. I love my Savior, being a housewife, mama and personal 'bakist' to the hubby, living naturally, and making real food taste yummy. I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into my crazy, happy life. Join me on the journey, let's get to know each other!

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  • My heart was racing the whole time I read this! I believe you had every right to be suspicious! Praise the Lord for His hand of protection. I have read of similar instances in Pennsylvania as well.

    • It’s so scary, Janae! We know the heart of man is wicked, so this will only continue until the Lord returns. We need to pray and be watchful. Our children’s lives and futures depend on us now! <3

  • This is incredible! I am so thankful the Lord planted that family there when He did! We live in a tourist town and I can not tell you how many times I’ve had men around my 13-year-old daughter that didn’t belong lurking in the woman’s shampoo or feminine hygiene isle. Seriously! My older daughter and I are on to them most of the time and we tend to make them uncomfortable by noticing them and letting them know we see them. Great testimony and thank you for a heart of caring and sharing.

    • Ugh! So scary, Melanie! You’re awesome for teaching your daughter how to be aware and safe. That’s what we need to do, no matter the gender of our babies. Our boys are just as in danger as our girls. Thanks for commenting! <3

  • You are so right. We need to be diligent in knowing our surroundings. This issue is one of the closest to my heart. And given recent events – it happens, and is happening more and more often in small town America. Pray for our nation!

    • It IS happening more and more in small town America (where I live!), and the only way we’re going to make it through is opening our eyes and ears, and being brave enough to NOT fight those uneasy feelings. I am praying with you, April! God is bigger. <3

  • Wow, this was terrifying. No doubt your instincts were right on the money, and I know that your warning to parents to be vigilant is a crucial one to take to heart.

    A long time ago I read an article from a self-defense expert, and her warned that you should NEVER EVER shrug off unexplained feelings you have of danger being near. You should always trust them.

    I also had a scary incident in a store when my oldest daughter was an older toddler. I was intently browsing the shelves for quite some time as she was standing near me when I suddenly got that feeling of present danger. I looked up and there was a man in the same aisle as us, watching my little girl I quickly went to her and grabbed her hand and left. I realized then just how distracted I had become in searching the store shelves in those moments. It scared me. And I thank God wholeheartedly that I paid attention to the warning!

    Yes, parents, please be vigilant! Do not always have your face and eyes turned toward a phone screen in public places. Our children need our protection and watchful attention.

    • Hillary, I caught myself holding my breath reading through your story! Oh, praise God that He makes us aware in the those moments where our focus isn’t quite where it needs to be, and saves us from the heartbreak of a bad turnout to that kind of situation! Amen – “our children need our protection and watchful attention”. We are their ‘shepherds’ – they were given to us to be instructed and raised in the Lord and to be safeguarded spiritually, emotionally and physically while they are under our care. So thankful for you, Mama! <3

  • Wow, my heart is racing just reading this. But your right we need to be more aware of our surroundings and stop taking for granted that our kids are safe. We need to pray for them to protected but also do our part and make sure they as well understand the danger of a stranger. I am glad everything tuned out well for you. Thank God for the family coming out of the store when they did.

    • Soooo true! We ABSOLUTELY, first, need to put our kids in the hands of their Creator. God can protect them even when we’re not on the ball! Thank you for commenting and reading and becoming more aware. We as moms have so much influence over the lives of our precious little ones. The best to you, Sherri! <3

  • My heart raced the whole time reading this. I kept thinking of my own boys. This, sadly, wasn’t my first time reading of a situation like this, and for the most part, I am very aware of where my children are. But after this, I’m going to be on heightened alert!
    Thank God all is well with you and your little one!

    • After this happened, I was spooked, but I didn’t get really scared until reading the similar accounts on my FB feed in the weeks after. The one night it hit me so hard, I laid awake for hours just watching my little guy and thanking God for His protection. Thanks so much, Samantha. I’m so glad that this might help other mamas realize how real this could be. I was really naive about it until this happened!

  • Oh wow, that is so creepy! I would have been really uncomfortable with strange men making such a fuss over my kid too. You were right to be protective and discerning. In general I don’t trust strangers much having grown up on the East Coast, but since we’ve moved to Oklahoma where everyone is super friendly and don’t appear to have a hidden agenda, I’ve let my guard down somewhat. Thanks for this reminder to be vigilant over our kids because we don’t know what someone else’s intentions are.

    • Thanks, Marisa! I know what you mean, when I’m around super friendly people I find I let my guard down too. It’s so important for everyone involved that we are aware! I still have chills seeing these local, creepy accounts of incidents like mine that could’ve turned out much different. One situation, the parking lot cameras at Walmart caught the unmarked van circling the lots, seemingly waiting for the mom and kids to leave the store. Terrifying!