Light Will Always Triumph: a Personal Story

by Whitney Kristine Tompkins, guest writer June 2018

These days, I find it incredibly difficult to shuffle through the darkness that seems to engulf the world around us. News stations and online media outlets scream of the despairing situation in which our country, and the world, has found itself. From mass school shootings and political uneasiness to the sexual-assault culture, it sometimes feels as though there is no end in sight. So many people are walking through brokenness. As we continue to stare into the vast darkness of our current situation, it is easy to feel that we can do nothing except walk away. Many experience a desolation that no words could begin to express.

These moments of solemn reflection into the pain of our world and the heartache of other human beings often brings me to my knees. I am left feeling disheartened and discouraged. I question whether my passion for human beings and my pursuit of social justice are enough to impact the shattered world we live in. How can I, one person, change the darkness—and will my voice even be heard? It is so easy to want to run and hide from what is going on. In a world that fights hard to silence those who want to be beacons of light, the path of least resistance is to stay silent.


There have been times in my life when I received the gift of watching how light brought into a dark situation changed the atmosphere—when I experienced what it is like to have hope spoken into my own situations. Growing up, I struggled severely with mental-health issues and the pain that comes from the brokenness in the world around us. Some days required every ounce of energy and push that I had so I could make it to the next tomorrow. This became the story I lived every single day for over seven years.

Each day brought questions: “Am I worth anything? Is this pain going to end? Am I alone in my fight?” As time continued and I got older, things started to shift and the pain slowly began to ease. I began throwing myself into school and work, attempting to prove to everyone around me that I was “worthy.” However, even time and my accomplishments would not completely erase the wounds that I had experienced, and I still wrestled with the many scars left by my past.

This past year, that darkness began to resurface, and I experienced brokenness again. All the effort I had thrown into proving myself to those around me began to lose its power. My heart’s insecurities started to make me question whether I could ever have an impact on this world. Was there any way that someone as broken and riddled with pain as I was could speak light into the darkness? How could I even begin to think of trying to impact another person’s world when my own was falling apart at the seams?

It was around this time, in February 2017, that I applied for entrance into a graduate counseling program at a local college, to which I was ultimately accepted. However, I allowed the fear of my own brokenness to stop me from pursuing that program. I told them that I could not start and would be deferring my acceptance.

Fast forward a year to 2018. I started to get more involved at my local church and met a great couple whom I now call my second parents. While I was over at their house to watch the Super Bowl, I struck up a conversation with my “second dad,” who is now working as a counselor. It was through this conversation that he began to shine light into my darkness. He reminded me that it is broken people who can relate to the broken and hurting. Through this talk, I realized I did not have to be perfect to help change the world; I just had to be willing.

I am happy and excited to say I will be starting my master’s degree in counseling in the fall. I do believe it was this one conversation that opened the door for the light to shine into my life. For the first time in years, I allowed that light to illuminate a hope I can cling to.

It is easy to look around and forget that hope still exists and that it is worth fighting for. Don’t allow your brokenness or the silence of this world stop you from shouting into the abyss of pain. Tell your story and speak up for the broken. Do not fear, because you never know who may need your light to navigate through the darkness.


Weinstein, MeToo, and TheyToo

Brittany Swart, WAR, Int’l Intern
June 19, 2018

As the black SUV pulled up, the crowd pulled out their cameras and phones, and as the man of the hour stepped out, devices started clicking and flashing. People pushed forward, jockeying for the best spot, as the crowd clamored to see him. Most had likely arrived early; this was an exciting day. The moment had come. The crowd, however, was not at a long-awaited premiere but at a courthouse. And the man they had come to see was there not to hear his praises sung, but to hear a list of charges filed against him.

The man was Harvey Weinstein, cofounder and former chief executive of the independent film studio The Weinstein Company. Weinstein, accompanied by law enforcement, turned himself in to authorities on May 25, 2018, nearly eight months after allegations of sexual assault began to surface. Thanks to accusations made by singer Lucia Evans and an unidentified woman, Weinstein was charged with rape, a criminal sex act, sexual abuse, and sexual misconduct. While he maintains his innocence (Weinstein pleaded not guilty on June 5), more than 80 women have accused the film executive of rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment. Known for having produced some of the biggest movies in Hollywood, he is now recognized as the match that set a movement on fire.


“Me, too” – this short phrase has created massive waves of shocking revelation and outrage in our society. Started by Tarana Burke, founder of the nonprofit youth organization Just Be, Inc., the #MeToo movement has let women share their stories of rape, sexual assault, and harassment on social media in solidarity with others. Ever since dozens of women came out of hiding to accuse Weinstein of rape and abuse, the movement has been gathering steam and continuing to speed up, bringing down such powerful and influential men as Roy Moore, Charlie Rose, Russell Simmons, Mario Batali, Danny Masterson, and Bill Cosby.

Alleged to have perpetrated acts ranging from indecent exposure to rape, these men (and dozens more) have all been accused of committing various sexual crimes against women. Most have either resigned their positions or been fired because of the allegations. Some have been charged; a jury in a recent re-trial found Bill Cosby guilty of sexual assault.

We have watched as the #MeToo movement has exposed some of the most influential, beloved men in popular culture, portraying or revealing them as abusers of women, while also validating many abuse survivors whose quest is to be heard and taken seriously. This movement has made many of us stop and rethink what is acceptable socially and what is not.

Women At Risk, International (WAR, Int’l) stands with these women who have bravely and boldly made their voices heard—not only for themselves, but also for others facing the same battles. We believe that darkness loses its grip when experiences are brought to light. Some of our staff have long given voice to their own stories, knowing that one person’s courage to say #MeToo may free another from the imprisonment of thinking, “only me.” Whether on social media or with a trusted individual or group, sharing their stories can help survivors of assault, abuse, and other forms of risk to find others who will walk with them on the journey to healing.


As the #MeToo movement continues to empower thousands of assault and abuse survivors to find their voices, let us remember to stand up for those who are still unheard, including thousands of sex-trafficking victims throughout the United States. Once lured into the sex industry by force, coercion, or fraud, many victims are not only used but also abused by their pimps or traffickers, who may beat, drug, threaten, or isolate them to keep them cooperative and silent.

Like the celebrities who have come forward with their stories, #TheyToo have faced harassment, assault, and rape—many on a daily basis. #TheyToo have been denied the dignity and respect they deserve. #TheyToo have felt afraid and helpless, and #TheyToo have been bullied into silence. Although they have no platform on which to speak out, #TheyToo deserve to be heard.

As more victims are heard and more perpetrators are held accountable, let’s guide these rivers of righteousness and justice down to the thousands of women, men, girls, and boys who are trafficked in the United States and preyed upon by corrupt individuals. They may not be able to fight for themselves, but we can fight for them: through awareness events and preventative outreach, calls to politicians and the media, and everyday conversations. Just as the light exposed Weinstein and others, we can shine a light on this billion-dollar criminal enterprise. As the #MeToo movement gave voice to many, let us be a voice for the victims of trafficking.

Because #TheyToo deserve to be heard.

Everyone can do something to fight harassment, sexual assault, and human trafficking. To learn how to recognize and respond to these issues in your own community, consider taking part in a Civilian First Responder conference. Women at Risk, International (WAR, Int’l) has educated thousands of professionals and ordinary citizens across the United States through live anti-trafficking training conferences. Now, for the first time, these trainings are now available in a digital format, allowing anyone anywhere to access this training! We also offer a variety of other opportunities to get involved, help the most vulnerable, and make a difference.