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When I held my novel in my hand for the first time in April 2017, I was on top of the world.

“Now, I can get back to my life. I have done my part. I have brought awareness to human trafficking in America and how it affects our American runaways.”

In that victorious moment, I would never have imagined the journey God was about to take my family on. In April of 2017, I couldn’t see down the road to the moment I would win third place at NAYC’s The Great Pitch. I prayed for God to use my life and make me a voice but never would I have imagined him answering my prayer in such a gigantic way.

In April 2017 as I read the back cover of my fiction novel titled Pushing Back the Darkness, I didn’t know I would stand in front of 30,000 people in Lucas Oil Stadium and rip off the blinders so many of us have worn for so long. I was able to help bring awareness and open the eyes of those who can help. Showing 30,000 people that human trafficking is real. It is happening in America and it can help to our kids…no one is immune.

In fact, Human trafficking is both sex and labor trafficking. It is a form of modern-day slavery that occurs around the world and in the United States. It involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring, or receiving a person through the use of FORCE, FRAUD, or COERCION. ANYONE can be a victim of human trafficking and ANYONE can be a trafficker. The more I learned, the more I was able to share and teach. My life began to change for the positive. I realized what I was created for. I found my destiny. Writing the book was not the end of the road. It was just the beginning of a life long commitment to helping those all around me. I have a huge network of people and many resources that want to help stop human trafficking in our American cities.

I was able to go to D.C and speak to a group of Impact Junkies who have the same vision and burden to use their talents to impact their world in a positive way. I found myself sitting at our think table in D.C. with incredible people and sharing statistics like: 62% of victims are tricked into trafficking by someone they know and trust (boyfriend/girlfriend, best friend, ect.). Around 35 percent of victims are sold into human trafficking by their own family. Only 3% of victims are kidnapped. Every year, 300,000 children in the U.S. are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation. Every minute, two children become victims of sexual exploitation. A trafficker/pimp will know within seconds of contacting their victim if they “got them”. It takes as little as 8 minutes for a trafficker to win over his/her target. 90% of all the children trafficked for sexual purposes are American children. There are as many as 2.8 million runaway children each year in the U.S. Within 48 hours of a child being on the street, 1 in 3 will be approached by a sex trafficker. From that room, people’s eyes were opened and they went back to their cities vowing to do something. Movie screenings of Priceless have been scheduled. Social Media Q&A panels have been scheduled as well, giving parents and students an opportunity to work together and talk about difficulty conversations that may have never had the chance to take place.

One moment has lead to the next and I will be speaking at many events for various organizations and churches. The Great Pitch did helped open those doors for me. I am so excited for the future. Who knows what is in store? The ImpactJunkie family have become my tribe. We are from different walks of life, mindsets and cultures but we have one thing in common. A burning desire to use every day to make the world a better place. To leave the world better than we found it. What will the world say about you when you are gone? What lasting impact have you left on the world for the positive? It isn’t too late to join in the fight and leave your mark. Join us.

This post was written by #ImpactJunkie and author, Laura Aranda

If you would like more info on Pushing Back the Darkness novel, check out her website.

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