(Julie Shrader, Rejuvenating Women founder)
An opportunity to respond constructively to cybersex, the “gateway drug” to human sex trafficking, was badly fumbled in Nebraska last week. We could have turned bad into good. Here’s how:
We should have let State Sen. Bill Kintner of Papillion remain in the Legislature, where he was elected to serve until 2018, in exchange for:
— completing a mandatory program of personal counseling and treatment;
— obtaining training on the epidemic of pornography, sexual harassment, human trafficking and sex crimes;
— meeting with law enforcement and social service professionals who are battling human trafficking in this state;
— going on a statewide speaking tour aimed at the prevention of pornography, cybersex, sexual harassment and the objectification of women;
— and sponsoring a bill on pornography and sex addiction prevention and awareness.
There’s no better champion than an ex-offender who wants to help others avoid what made him fall.
There are excellent programs for men struggling with pornography and sex addiction at two big Omaha churches, Christ Community and Westside Baptist. There are at least three meetings weekly in metro Omaha of Sex Addicts Anonymous, following the same format as Alcoholics Anonymous. There are many counselors who specialize in bringing out and treating the underlying causes of sex addiction. Training is readily available in preventing sexual harassment and managing your social networking activity.
This more constructive, redemptive response to Kintner’s misdeeds would not have disenfranchised the 38,000+ people in his legislative district (Papillion, Cass County, and parts of Sarpy and Otoe Counties). They could have voted him out of office, or retained him, next election round in 2018. Instead, Kintner’s political foes in the Unicameral chose “the nuclear option” and forced him out of his elected position.
That does no good for anybody. The inconsistency and hypocrisy are glaring. Three other senators were convicted of drunken driving in recent years, but were not expelled. Neither was a senator convicted of illegally diverting $63,000 in campaign funds to casino gambling.
Had Kintner not resigned, it would have been the first time in state history that a state senator was expelled. Yet his infractions — mutual masturbation on a computer screen with a prostitute, and sharing a sexist joke on Twitter — would not have landed him in court because neither is a crime.
What makes the lost opportunity more poignant is that January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and the Super Bowl is coming up — an event that many say is the pinnacle of human trafficking activity in our country every year.
An Omaha human trafficking expert who ministers to women who want out of the stripper/prostitute life, soon to open a long-term halfway house for them in an undisclosed location, Julie Shrader, said the Kintner episode points up how important prevention is in the fight against human trafficking. “What it comes down to is the johns,” Mrs. Shrader said. “If we didn’t have anyone purchasing sex, we wouldn’t have victims. We need to do all we can to keep people from going down that road, and help them recover from their addictions before more people are hurt.”
Rejuvenating Women is Christian-based because that is how Mrs. Shrader herself was saved from a human trafficking nightmare herself, many years ago. She is convinced faith-based programming is the answer. She also believes strongly in public education to prevent so many people from falling into pornography and other harmful sexual dysfunctions. She said there are really two victims in the sexual abuse dyad: the same causative factors that can lead a man to become sexually addicted and to objectify women as only being for sex, can also cause women and girls to believe that lie, too, and allow themselves to be victimized. Both sides need healing.
It appears to be too late to change the Kintner outcome. So let’s do the constructive, helpful thing to fight this complex, difficult problem in Nebraska:
1. Make a one-time or, preferably, monthly, donation of $10, $25, $50 or more to Rejuvenating Women. It’s a 501(c)(3) corporation. Email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org, call her at (402) 522-6811, or mail a donation to RW, P.O. Box 207, Boys Town, NE 68010. For monthly donors, she’ll set you up with envelopes for ongoing giving and will keep you informed in this arena.
2. Get a group of friends or coworkers together, and invite Julie to lunch, to let her explain what she’s doing and how people can help her.
3. If you know someone or some organization able to donate more money to serve more women, let Julie know about that, too.
Not surprisingly, Julie is praying for Bill Kintner. She urges others to do so, too.
“The Lord can redeem him,” she said. “He can be used in a mighty and powerful way. If he lets the Lord use his life, this could become the best thing that ever happened to him.”