Comment below what you gained from this episode.
In this episode, Andrew is joined by Patrick Erlandson, who tackled the dangers of human trafficking and pornography. Sadly, this is still an issue that is rampantly plaguing our world, which gives us all the more reason and why it’s crucial to shed some light on, spread awareness about, and stand up against it.
One small, simple step is actually another huge step closer to saving one person from the tragedy of human trafficking. Know the problem exists so you can end it. Take actions by making someone matter, feeling valued and loved, valuing your integrity, and eliminating the vulnerability. Spread awareness by having the right spirit and motivation.
We hope that this conversation enlightens us and serves as that one step closer to help end human trafficking.
- Human Trafficking in Africa and across the world
- Misconceptions about Trafficking
- Statistics on human trafficking victims within the United States
- Factors that lead to being a victim of human trafficking: self-punishing and disconnection with love, adults, trust, and own self-identity
- Prostitution vs. Being Trafficked
- The reality of being trafficked: vulnerability & entitlement
- Pornography as part of entitlement in human trafficking
- Opposite or antithesis to the commodification of human trafficking: nurture and value human being
Andrew Love: That’s okay. All right, guys. Hello ladies and gentle men, men, gentlemen. Today is still, we’re still on planet Earth, wherever you’re listening. Humanity is still on planet Earth. We’re still working through some stuff. We haven’t. If there if God has prepared another planet for us, we haven’t deserved it yet. We still have to work things out on this planet. I hope you’re, I hope you’re buckled up and ready to get into a really important topic with a really important person. Because this person represents the crossover of two worlds that are deeply connected. But people are usually in one camp or another and they’re, like we were talking before the show. You’re either kind of trying to help people make sense of pornography, or you’re in the human trafficking, you know, you’re fighting that because that’s a huge beast unto its own. And so what we’re going to do today, we have Patrick. Lord Patrick is on, is on the call with us today. And I’ve had the occasion to meet him a few times. He is somebody who has given so much of his heart to human trafficking, and then has discovered something that we were talking about prior to the show, which is like, what is your human trafficking footprint? Because it’s not something that exists beyond us. We’re all a part of a global network of humanity. So how are we contributing to this and what way. And today, I really want to get into with Patrick, because he’s invested so much. I always see pictures of you, Patrick, online, doing protests in the streets, trying to spread awareness. And I know how passionate you are and I want all of us in high noon to plug into your passion to learn from, from all of your hours and hours and hours of investment. Learning about human trafficking, the pain that people are going through, we want to understand this topic and then how it also pertains to pornography. And so wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, as you listen to this, please try to find a space where you can open your mind and open your heart. So that we can work as expediently as possible to stop this, that in its tracks. So that we can stop human trafficking, so that we can turn humanity to a much better and healthier track. So we have probably one of the greatest people that we can have to speak on this topic because he’s not just an ambassador for fighting human trafficking. He, himself has worked on his own sexual integrity. And we’ve been, we’ve seen him grow a lot over the years and so please, welcome that was the longest introduction probably in history, Patrick Erlandson.
Patrick Erlandson: But I would equally say it’s an incredible honor to be here and talk with you. We keep running into each other. We talk occasionally but, but I admire you so much. So great to be here with you. It’s been, it’s a, it’s been a rocky road getting here. But I’m really grateful. And I did want to kind of open this up because there is, sometimes when we think about human trafficking, it becomes this very pigeon-holed, very narrow thing of just, you know, because it’s, because it’s inflammatory. It’s emotional. It’s, it digs into people’s passions, you just talk about, you know, selling children and Epstein and pedophile islands. And it’s so easy to get caught up in, in one aspect of human trafficking. But if I can, I’d really like to share, like how I first got into this and how this became something that I couldn’t let go of. Because for me, it was I, I took a job working with the United Nations Refugee Agency when they open an office here in LA, to basically educate people about what was happening with refugee populations. And we started getting reports from Africa. That time was the, you know, the conflict in Darfur in Southern Sudan where you started having children watching their parents be killed by the ganja weed, and you had, you had, you know children and families being driven out of their, their homelands? You know, just by this terrorist onslaught of ravaging villages and communities, taking people to be slaved in Khartoum, and then also people escaping and leaving their countries. So what was happening to a number of these children and people is crossing into Egypt. And they were trying to get to Israel, because they heard in Israel that, that there were jobs. That they would actually be supported and be given jobs. So you had in many cases, children who had just watched their parents killed, you know, crossing already with the kind of trauma that they’re carrying, and the sense of loss and heading into this incredibly dark unknown. This groups of Bedouins in Egypt would befriend them and take them in and feed them. And, you know, they’d sit around the fire and you know, they’d feel safe. They’d start to feel that they were among friends. All the while the Bedouins have called to Cairo asked for a doctor to come down. The doctor’s on his way, once he gets there, they drug everyone. Cut out their organs and then bury them in the desert. And, and for me, it was just like that, that was just like a Mack truck to my heart and this idea of a child being so betrayed, you know, like you win their trust, you win their ability to relax. Their ability to feel that they’re among friends, and that they’re safe, and then you kill them. And, and I just couldn’t, I just couldn’t let it go. It just tore me up and I and so this was about 10 years ago. And then I started researching human trafficking and what human trafficking entailed. And so then, then finding that it wasn’t just, you know, harvesting of organs, that it wasn’t just labor trafficking, which is just so extreme, you know, across the world as well. But also the sex trafficking and so that was, it’s that same kind of betrayal that that motivated me to kind of want to learn about this and want to take a position and take a stand in in helping to end it. So I started about nine years ago, started really investing full time. Not full time, I’m a teacher, so I have my job. But all the other time that I have, I began to invest in this and I worked. I chose, there’s different areas of human trafficking. There’s like the prevention side, there’s, there’s the prosecution side, there’s, there’s rescuing girls, and there’s restoring girls, Giving them a chance at a new life again. For me, everything that was in me, just kind of, was drawn to prevention. So when you start looking at how do we stop this, how do we stop? I mean, estimates are today that there are over 40 million people living in some form of slavery. There are estimates that there are about 24 million people that are living in some sort of sex slavery around the world. And it’s the, I mean, I’m not a big numbers-person. I’m not that big on statistics and stuff, but it is, it’s the fastest growing international crime is human trafficking. It’s the second largest. Just like, like funded profitable kind of endeavor in the world today. Next to selling of guns, it’s selling human beings is now the second most profitable business you can be in in the world today. Its massive way beyond Amazon and beyond the things that we typically would think of as, you know, high-earning types of businesses. But it’s, it’s so exploitive, it’s just you’re basically taking a human being and stripping them of everything that they would and could be in their lives and turning them into a commodity or turning them into a product. And so the whole, the whole work of human trafficking is and what human traffickers do, is turn a human being into a product.
Andrew Love: So that is the definition of trafficking. I mean, just to get clear, for anybody who’s been living under a rock or for people who have been fed, a wide variety of definitions. Human trafficking is the commodification of human beings.
Patrick Erlandson: Yeah. And it’s, if you take the terminology that’s now accepted by the State Department and kind of officially, it’s, if you’re if it’s an exchange that you’re using a person and you’re getting some benefit from using that person. So, human trafficking can be, you know, a landlord. This is what we’re really scared of now with Coronavirus as you’re having an expansion, an explosion of human trafficking. A lot of people really hoping it would diminish because everyone’s quarantined, everyone’s locked down. Yeah, no more trafficking. But actually, you now have landlords that are saying, “Well, look, you can’t pay your rent? Okay, well come have sex with me and I’ll let you stay in your apartment.” And that’s a form of trafficking. It’s like an it’s, I’m using you to, you know, in exchange for some benefit, you can stay in your apartment. So whether it’s actually putting someone on the street and selling a 12 year old on the street or, some other exchange of goods, so you have your mothers who are addicted to drugs who end up trading their child to a drug dealer, to get their next fix. The drug dealers then sending, having the child slept with by multiple men in order to make it to make extra money. It’s pretty horrific. But the, so the official definition is, if you’re under 18, then it’s automatically human trafficking. So if you’re if, if you’re being put out on the street, if you’re being used for someone else to gain, gain the benefit of your labor, that would be trafficking. If you’re over 18, there has to be force fraud or coercion involved. So if someone forces you to do it, if someone lies to you and tells you, you’re gonna get this wonderful job and then takes away your passport and sticks you in on a pole in a strip club. That’s that, and then the other coercion is, and this has happened to a friend of mine. She was a survivor of trafficking. She was in her second or third year of university, you know, beautiful, really intelligent woman and she got drawn into this whole world. And in her case, that they had her, they had her home information. And they told her, “If you do anything, if you try to run away, if you try to resist us in any way, we’re going to go to your house and shoot the first person that comes out your door.” And she loved her parents, and she loved her little brother. And she, that was enough to hold over her to keep her doing what she was doing.
Andrew Love: Wow. So just to kind of understand the big picture here, right? A lot of the times if you, if you hear human trafficking in the news or wherever in your feed, it’s usually tied up with cartels, with mafias. You know, with some big conglomerate of some sort, right? Is that, is that how this is happening? Because I can’t imagine, like I travel a lot with my family. And it’s hard to travel, right? Like to get into countries you need visas, you need this and that. So I don’t understand how you could be shipping human beings without some sort of arrangement, like some ends with the government or something.
Patrick Erlandson: You’re getting the wrong feeds. Now, there’s a lot of misconceptions about trafficking. Trafficking doesn’t require you to move anywhere. We have, we have middle school girls that are living at home and climbing out of their bedroom windows to go take care of customers in the middle of the night, because their trafficker has just sent them a text message. We have cases of girls in San Diego in school, this, this girl would get up in the middle of the class and start fighting with their teacher for absolutely no reason, just start screaming at him. So he would then kick her out of class because her trafficker was outside with a client and she had to get down in that parking lot in five minutes or she was gonna pay for it. So this is, it’s not a question of shipping people around. The estimates in the United States are 300,000, up to 300,000 domestic children and people, American people are being trafficked within the United States. We produce vulnerable children at an incredibly alarming rate. The breakdowns of the family, the the bringing-in of a stepfather/stepmother. One of the first trafficking survivors that I heard speak, talk of sitting in her bedroom, she was 11 or 12. She’s playing with her Barbie. Her mother’s boyfriend comes into her bedroom. Sits down next to her, puts his hand in her leg. Intention is clear. The girl is just feeling a total panic, like doesn’t know what to do. The mother comes in, looks at them and the girl is thinking, “I’m saved! I’m saved, you know, thank God”, the mother backs out and closes the door and lets the boyfriend rape her daughter. And that’s set on a course, she ran away from home. She was very soon before she was picked up by traffickers and then she went through years and years of being exploited. And this is the other thing that we found, is that people who get exploited in about 80 percent of the cases, they were molested as children. They experienced some sort/ form of abuse or sexual abuse when they were kids. And so they’re broken, already. They have, they already feel like they’re dirty. And children tend to blame themselves if they’re, if anything bad has happened. And in so many cases, if it’s a, if it’s an incestuous abuse, the blame is going to be shifted. The father is going to put the blame on the daughter. The brother is going to put the blame on the sister. The mother is going to put the blame on the son, I mean, whatever. And so children are very quick to accept it, it’s their fault. Whatever, whatever bad thing has happened. And, and they sense that it’s bad. They’re gonna take blame for it. And then they go out and self-punish by allowing themselves to be traffic.
Andrew Love: It’s self punishing. Is that..
Patrick Erlandson: Part of it, It’s part of it. They don’t feel that they’re worth anything more. They don’t feel that they’re really deserving of something better. So, and they’ve also had such a bad experience with love. I mean, I just can’t wrap my head around what it would be like to have suffered sexual abuse from an adult that you’re supposed to be able to trust, and then make sense of the world. It’s like that has tipped everything upside down. Now, nothing makes sense anymore. Who are you supposed to trust, who’s supposed to protect you as the one hurting you and abusing you. And doing something that, you know, essentially is wrong. The only person I knew that, that that didn’t have that was when it was a girl who was a survivor of trafficking. She was, I don’t know, I don’t want to get too specific. But she was molested as an infant. And so she grew up being molested from infancy by her uncle. And it wasn’t until she was 12 or 13, that she actually came to a realization that this wasn’t right. Because it had been her whole life. It’s all she knew for her entire life. And, but most children respond with a feeling of something’s wrong with this. I don’t know what it is. I can’t explain it, but there’s something wrong with this. And that creates a whole disconnect with love, adults, trust, their own self identity. Everything, everything breaks down at that point, and then you become the perfect person to exploit.
Andrew Love: Are there hotspots, like within America? Let’s just talk about America right now. Are there, are there? Is it happening in the suburbs more in the cities? Or is it pretty much the same? It doesn’t matter. Its location nonspecific, like, I can’t imagine, you know, I’ve been around America, I’ve seen it. And this is all happening behind closed doors. It’s happening or it’s not happening overtly. You can see a prostitute in downtown. You know, I don’t know Detroit, obviously, or some city and you say, “Oh, that’s a prostitute”, right? But then this is happening..
Patrick Erlandson: I mean, so the the whole assumption is the prostitute is out there because this is her way of making money. She’s probably scam. She is I mean, but not something typically. I mean, the police, the police vice squads, what they used to call going out and arresting prostitutes. It was the trash run. You’re picking up trash and the whole attitude towards prostitutes was, you know, “You guys just made these bad life torture, bad life choices, you’re trying to throw in your life away. What’s wrong with you? Something’s wrong with you. You’re the criminal.” And it’s only recently we’ve had this complete turnaround. I was, a good friend of mine is the judge here and she was in charge of the Compton, the Children’s Court, the juvenile court. And she said for years she was like, reprimanding these girls who were being brought before, picked up for prostitution. And she’s like, scolding them, you know, “Why aren’t you in school? Why aren’t you doing something with your life?” Finally, she listened to one of the girls, and she learned that this girl had absolutely no freedom to do whatever she wanted to do. That there was a man who was telling her what underwear to wear, where to be at what time what to eat, when to eat. He had been taken over her. Her whole autonomy was, it was run by this guy. And I’m talking to a therapist, we started one of the conferences we started together. But she was telling me that you know, typically we have grandparents, we have aunts and uncles, we have nieces and nephews, we have cousins, we have best friends. We have brothers and sisters. We have a boyfriend, we have a husband, we have a, you know, in whatever capacity, right? We have all of these relationships that fill our lives, right? Sure. I mean, it’s normal. For most of us, we have this vast array of relationships. Human trafficker basically takes over all of those positions. He becomes the uncle, he becomes the boyfriend, the husband, the father, the brother. He takes every position in a child’s life, until she buys into it to survive. Like she’s going to, she has to accept this because she’s got no control. And also because this is, you know, the thing that really like, is so sad about this. Is that, you have a child who, who feels that being with a trafficker is better than being at home, because she’s treated worse at home. And even though she’s being forced to go out and service ten, twenty, thirty men a day, and have sex with them. That’s better because this person is at least taking care of her. Right? And at home, her parents weren’t taking care of her. I mean, so this is this is why I think, you know, we have, we have two problems we have, we have one where we’re creating vulnerability. We’re creating vulnerability in children, that enables them to be trafficked. That enables them to have somebody step in and say, “Look, I’ll take care of you. I’ll tell you what to do. I’ll feed you, I’ll give you a mattress to sleep on.” And that’s enough and then we also have the creation of entitlement that, they were encouraging a sense of entitlement, and especially in boys, where you’re, you’re entitled to, to get what you want. And that means another person’s body, that means you’re there your sexual gratification, trumps anything else. It’s, it’s, you’re entitled to, to getting your sexual pleasure. And so that, yeah?
Andrew Love: I just wanted to get in there and dig into both those because you’re saying we are, I’m assuming you’re meaning like, as a society, we’re creating too much vulnerability, but then we’re also creating too much entitlement. So let’s go back to vulnerability and how is that? How is that being promoted in our in our youth?
Patrick Erlandson: Well, and so this is there’s a whole another area. So my two areas of focus are in culture. So the culture is, is this swamp, this poisonous swamp? It’s normalizing all kinds of horrible things. And then that, that really hits on pornography and what’s happening in movies today in music. But then the other side is on fathers. And I think the more that I’ve studied about fatherhood, and the more I’ve studied about the significance of a father, the more I feel really like I wish I could go back and start over again. But also just realizing that when we drop the ball, when a father drops the ball with his kids, that creates a very big hole. And whether it’s a son or a daughter, there’s something seriously missing and something that can’t be replaced. It’s something that, that you can be the most wonderful mother, single mother on Earth. You can do the best job possible. But there’s, there’s something missing. There’s something missing. And it’s, and we’re built for it. We’re hardwired to have a relationship with a father, with a male love in our life. And when that’s missing, we’re always going to be vulnerable, there’s always gonna be some level of vulnerability. And I think, you know, I look at, in going to entitlement, if you look at the Garden of Eden story, you look at kind of the Adam and Eve story, which to me, you can look at it from many different angles, right? And typically people look at it from from a position of disobedience. But even if you look at it from the standpoint of entitlement, it’s like what was the whole temptation? It was, “You didn’t ask to be born. You’re here. That looks yummy. And God can’t tell you can’t have it because you never, you know, you’re here and it’s sitting in front of you. So just go take it. No one gave it to you. You didn’t earn it. But go take it because it looks good.” I mean, if you if you see it in that, in that term, the very essential beginning of us, it’s, you know, the original trauma that has now been passed down for thousands of years. Is this is a sense of entitlement that I’m entitled to something that I didn’t earn. I’m entitled to something that I didn’t, that I wasn’t given. And, and that you look at the motivation of men who pay for sex, like men who actually go out and pay for sex. It’s it, they’re, they’re really driven by a sense of entitlement, that I want to have this kind of experience. So if I pay for it, I can get it. If I want to do this to someone’s body, I pay for it. I can do it. I’m entitled to that experience. And I think the worst case is when you go to like the incel movement. Which, are you familiar with incel?
Andrew Love: No.
Patrick Erlandson: Sorry. It’s involuntarily celibate. And these are 10s of thousands of men who feel that sex is their right? That they’re entitled to sexual pleasure. And if a woman doesn’t give it to them, that woman is evil, and she’s violating his rights as a man to sexual gratification. So there are a couple of cases, the guy in Santa Barbara, who went outside of the girl sorority and shot all those girls. Some number of years ago in Santa Barbara, he was part of this kind of group, this kind of thinking that girls weren’t friendly to him. Girls kind of shined him on they didn’t, they didn’t let him get his pleasure. And in his case, his father realizing that he was really struggling about this, took him to Las Vegas to a prostitute and introduced him to the wonderful joys of sex with a paid person. And reinforcing that idea that, you know, it’s you’re entitled. You’re entitled to this, you should get it and if someone will give it to you, then go pay for it. But in his case, he got very resentful that he was not being given what was his due and so he went and decided to kill a bunch of women. And he was celebrated, you have websites across the country and around the world where these men hang out. And they, he’s like one of their heroes. And then the other case was in Toronto, with the guy who drove down the street and mowed down all those people. Yeah. So he was also a hero of the incel movement, because he was punishing women for not, you know, forking it out. And this was their, and this, to me is kind of the extreme of entitlement. But we have varying degrees of it. I mean, it’s “I’m entitled to something that I haven’t been given and haven’t earned. And so I’m going to use you for that for that gratification, that pleasure.”
Andrew Love: And do you think pornography plays into that entitlement? That sexual entitlement?
Patrick Erlandson: Yeah, big time.
Andrew Love: Yeah. I mean, I’m asking I’m asking because if I, if I make the assumption that I’m not learning, but I sincerely I want to know how that’s linked, right? Because when we watch pornography, that’s the kind of unconscious thought is that it’s a harmless thing. And these people are all voluntarily a part of this show. It’s like watching a movie. And actors and actresses get killed on camera, right? You, you play somebody who gets killed on camera, you’re just acting, you’re having sex on camera, you’re just acting. So it’s all one in the same, right? It’s this kind of detachment from their humanity. So then, how does that cause us to be entitled, if it does?
Patrick Erlandson: Okay, a couple of things about that. So one is, going on. I’m gonna start here, go to Germany. So Germany legalized brothels, right. So they legalized prostitution. And so then brothels sprang up. One guy in particular built a bunch of these very large brothels and then what happens immediate with decriminalization or with legalization is the demand just goes through the roof because you know, it If it’s legal, that somehow means it’s okay. Right? I mean, if, especially if you’re a man, if you’re a man and you’ve been you control yourself, because of the morality of it, you control yourself because, you know, to get caught, paying for sex would be really shameful. You don’t want to take a chance on that, you know, it’s gonna, you know, damage your family, whatever. So you end up controlling yourself. You know, and don’t go to a brothel because it’s criminal and it may cause greater problems for your life. You remove the criminality of it, you remove that. And you basically have now opened it up to anyone who doesn’t have a very strong sense of moral certitude. You like them, they know exactly what’s right and wrong. Now, this is like, “Whoa, I just had a fight with my girlfriend, after the brothel”, “I just had a fight with my wife, I’m off to the brothel”, “My wife has a headache, I’m off to the brothel.” You know, because it’s, it’s okay now. The government said it’s okay. It’s okay. Right? So, so demand spiked. They couldn’t get enough girls who are willing to do that kind of work. So they were buying girls from traffickers. Girls from Northern Africa, girls from Europe, from from Eastern Europe, from Russia. In places they were there to fill the brothels because they just couldn’t get enough, enough warm bodies. So with demand increasing, then you have to, you have to meet that demand. And so what’s happened with pornography, once pornography entered the internet, it’s just a massive change to anything that we’ve ever known before. And I can get into that a little bit later on. My introduction to pornography was my first introduction. Pornography was collecting newspapers on a paper drive for school. And somebody put a bunch of magazines together. And my curiosity had me opening pages and being forever changed. You know, and then finding Playboy magazine into my dad’s bed. So that was my introduction. You look at now, you know, if you’re an eight year old, or nine year old or ten year old today, you have access to the hardest core porn imaginable, that just a click, click of a keyboard. I mean, it is, there’s no more embarrassment of going to a store, you know, risking your dad finding out that you took his magazine. It’s, that’s all gone and so the demand is just skyrocketing for this kind of content. There is no way to get enough girls. I mean, was at point I was like 3000 videos a day are being uploaded point up. Just massive quantity. And and so this, I mean, the survivors of trafficking that I’ve talked to, most of them, almost all of them were either sold to pornographers, like, they’re rented out, you know. And then, I mean, you look at what’s being done. If that, if those numbers are correct, 80% of porn today, hardcore porn today is violent. It’s humiliation. It’s violence. It’s not two people making love and you get to see some boobs and stuff. It’s it’s, it’s really hardcore porn on the internet today is violent, abusive, all kinds of crazy, crazy stuff, the whole bukkake world and all this crazy stuff that’s happening now. You’re not going to get enough women willing to go through that, you know. So those are, those are victims of trafficking that are being rented out to the pornographers because they can’t say no. And, and I, I saw this underground video that had been made. Some years ago of a girl who, she signed a contract, yet she was a single mom, really struggling to make money. She signed a contract, okay, “I come in, I have sex with one guy.” You know, okay, “I could handle that. You know, that’s it. It’s very vanilla. No problem, I can do that.” She gets there. And it’s turned into a different script. And now it’s with five guys, you know, some multiple guys on various parts of her body. And she’s going, “I can’t do that can’t do that.” And so, there’s this video that was taken was the director takes her and sits around the bed and he’s sweet talking and he’s telling her, “You know, you’re not gonna get paid, you know, you’re supposed to get $2,000 for this, you know, and you’re not gonna get paid. And look at all these guys, you know, we have people working the lights and the microphones and cameras and you know, and the director, all of these people are here because of you. And if you don’t do it, none of those people get paid. None of them can take care of their families.” And it’s just this guilt tripping this girl into doing the scene. And she finally agrees and of course of doing the scene, she gets gagged so badly that she passes out. I mean, it’s just and you’re seeing this play out. The coercion that’s involved within the pornography business and the fraud that also exists there. And you don’t get this from, you know, pornography actors, you know, the actors important while they’re in. But once they get out, you start hearing all of these stories of what they were forced to do and made to do. But so..
Andrew Love: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a very important point. And I’d like to, I’d like to highlight that real quick, is that the people typically justifying, you know, invalidating the legitimacy of pornography are usually still within the industry. And then once you leave the industry, that’s when you hear there the other side, darker side, because they, they’re not being controlled by it, or they, you know, they’re, they’re free from it, so they can talk about it.
Patrick Erlandson: So that was one of the things to me. It was coming to the realization because in my own personal case, I mean, I was still struggling with pornography, and still looking at pornography at the same time that I was educating people about how horrible pornography was. It was just awful kind of weight of hypocrisy and struggle, but I mean, pornography had been often on a part of my life since I was probably 11. And, and there were their whole periods of time where it wasn’t there. But, you know, it came back and then, so just that dealing with that, the shame and the guilt and the hypocrisy of realizing that this is a really bad thing but still, that was my self med, you know. That was my way to self medicate myself from, you know, my home situation, my family, my, you know my struggles. And but it was really coming to the realization that I’m looking at someone who very well could be trafficked. And to me, trafficking was just such a, it’s such a, a theft of a human life. Because if you survive it, which which many, many people do they survive it but they are that they are damaged in such deep ways for the rest of their life. Their ability to trust, I mean, I know two survivors that are now lesbian and married a woman because they can’t even stand to be with a man at all. And I mean, you have, you have real real damage done to a person’s trust. And their own self, their own, their own sense of self, of who they are, is so shaken and so it takes years and years and years to try to recover from that. But it’s just, it’s a theft of a human being who is, who exists as the image of God. Who exists with their own hopes and dreams and values and, and desires. This is them, to completely been taken over by a person who is making money from them, who just uses them as a, as a product.
Andrew Love: Well, how did you, how did you figure that out? How did you sort through that, because this is something that we’ve been dealing with in high noon because we were unabashedly, you know, tackling the issue of pornography and it’s a very personal issue. Human trafficking is big enough, and it’s kind of evil enough that nobody overtly says I support her right. Everybody, at least on the, on the record is anti-human trafficking. Every politician, whether they actually live up to that is another, another thing. So it’s like a nice Damon, I’m against human trafficking. But then, you know, there’s the reality of our connection to human trafficking through pornography and feeding this machine. So how were you able to sort through that mess of being so vehemently against one, but being affiliated to the other? How did you sort through that mess?
Patrick Erlandson: Painfully. I mean, ultimately, what really kind of just changed everything was being open and talking about it. Sharing, sharing that I had this struggle, because until then, I felt like I was the worst human being alive. You know, it’s like and the, you know, you know, this kind of like, the voices in your head. It’s like, everybody’s doing it. You know, everybody’s doing it. Everybody looks at porn. There’s no big deal. There’s no victim here. You know, it’s like and you have your needs. You have your frustration. So you got it, you got to find a way to release it. This is better than going out and raping someone, for God’s sake. So this is okay, you’re entitled to this, this is okay. And nobody’s getting hurt. You didn’t make the porn. It’s just there already. You know, no one’s being hurt. If you just look at it, you know, so there’s all of this side. But then once you do it, then it’s like, “Oh, man, if people knew they would hate you, everyone would just be so disgusted with you, you are just cum.” So you’re going back and forth between these, you know, this is no problem. And then the other side is just like, “Man, you did that. You are just the worst thing, you know, crawled out from under a rock, and everybody would hate you. Everyone would leave you no one, no one could love you the way that you are.” So..
Andrew Love: It’s, in a way like your inner dialogue and this is very common amongst you know, anybody who’s struggling with shame. You know, and regrettable actions, it sounds like you have a pimp inside your own head, like the same psychology of coercing you to do something and then shaming you for doing the very thing that they coerced you to do. That’s like, the internal dialogue of the whispers that are happening inside your own mind. In a sense.
Patrick Erlandson: Yeah, exactly. Where does that come from? So if you look at you go back to go back to the, you know, the symbolism of the Adam and Eve story. I mean, it’s so interesting to me, because there’s so much in there. But the position, the position of the, the tempter of the, of the snake, you know, the serpent is, is, it’s all of that. He’s a pimp, He’s someone who’s luring you into something that, you know, you’re not supposed to do. He’s making it okay to do this. You know, on the one hand, there there are traffickers. I mean, we divide up traffickers into the kind of guerrilla pimps and, and Romeo pimps. I mean, there’s variety in there. But guerrilla pimps are people just kind of grab you by your hair, throw you in a van take you off and force you to work. And there are those guys and those a lot of times are gang members in there. There are people who have their own, you know, little small little gangs, you know how you know that there’s the mafia, you know, it’s kind of this big monolith of evil. But, but then you have, you know, just five or six guys that just kind of create their own little way to make a bunch of money in the hood. And, that’s so much of the trafficking is like that. But there is, I mean, I did want to get back to your point about the mafia and the government’s and stuff because what we found here in LA, and in most places where there are gangs, you know, if they’re making their money from selling drugs or guns there, they sell at one time and it’s gone. But you sell a girl over and over and over again, you can sell her 365 days of the year, you know, you have absolutely no respect to what’s happening in her bodily functions or with how she feels or she’s sick or not sick. She’s out there working because you’re going to hurt her if she doesn’t. So, there’s all kinds of, you know, levels of trafficking from the Epstein’s down to, you know, a guy in the neighborhood who just sees that the only people who really have money and respect are the pimps. And so I want to be one of those. And that’s his ticket out of his situation. But but so there are there are kind of a variety of levels of traffickers but, but the Romeo pimp is really classic. And that it’s, this is a guy that will take the time to get to know you, to win your trust, to convince you that he really cares about you. That you matter to him. And then once you bite, once you’ve allowed yourself to open your heart to this guy. It’s, it’s very, very difficult to give up on that because what you’ve done is you’ve created a fantasy of who this guy is. This guy really does care about me. Even though he’s, he shared absolutely nothing of himself with you. But he’s listened to everything you’ve said. And if you’re a 12 or 13 year old girls, dad’s working all the time. Mothers working, you’re sitting home alone, you’re on your smartphone a lot. And here’s this guy and he’s listening to you and he, you know, the pictures of him. He looks really handsome. He’s, you know, maybe he’s 20. You know, maybe he’s 18 but anyway, he’s really nice. And he understands me, and he sends me messages in the middle of the night. You know, wondering and worrying about how I am. And he’s just such a nice guy, he really cares about me. And, and that’s the guy who’s really building, he’s building a relationship with you. So then he’s got hooks in you, and you’re not gonna leave him. And then once you decide, “Okay, I’m gonna go meet this guy, he seems so nice”. So you go and meet him, and then you disappear. And I mean, it’s just I mean, I kind of just like talking, you talk to parents who have been through this. You talk to people who have had their child taken like this. And it’s, I mean, there, there are a few things that I can imagine it’d be much worse. You can imagine your daughter is out, there some guys controlling her and making her sleep with 10, 20, 30 guys a day. And as a father, who should be a form of protection of his daughter to have that, to know that that’s happening way too much. But you do have that element and I think so. Yeah. The pimp in your head, that’s putting it. It’s like, selling you on it. He’s selling you on it. And then he’s shaming you for, for buying. And all of that is balanced to keep you to keep you shut up, to keep you kind of in the dark, to keep you keeping it in the dark, so then you can’t get free. And it’s really, you know, that was the thing that I think high noon. High Noon is just, you know, I think to me, high noon is just such an incredible and incredible place because what you created is an environment that’s, that’s open enough for people to really say, “Yeah, I did that. I went there. And I couldn’t tell anyone else that in my whole life. I couldn’t admit that to anyone else.” But you guys have created something that allows a person to really face, face themselves. Look at it, say it out loud. And then it just like, that’s the starting point of things being able to change. You know, it’s like well, until we get there, you’re not going to change it. As long as it’s, you’re keeping it in the closet and covered up and dark. It’s very hard to change, but once you bring it out and say “Yeah, like I did this” and that was my, once I kind of really, it finally, I could face that I could, basically admit it. It’s, it’s like there’s a, I’ve just, I want to use everything that I did. I went to use every mistake, I wanna use everything that I’ve seen to help someone else not do that. So that’s why I’m so glad to be here.
Andrew Love: How is that, kind of informed, where you’re at today? Like you went on this journey where you had this internal conflict, especially, you know, after seeing what human trafficking is and does to people and then seeing your own involvement. Then you’re figuring out how to sort through this mess, you’re dividing it, you’re objectifying, your own, you know, compulsion with pornography and kind of removing it from you. And then, what does that space that pornography is occupying in your mind you psyche, in your heart. Now, now that you’ve removed it, what? How has that space been used to empower the work that you do? And, or has it?
Patrick Erlandson: I think in two ways, I mean, in the, you know, within my family, with my relationship with my wife, it’s, it’s, we’ve had an awkward and odd kind of 38 years. And so we moved to Japan and lived in Japan. And, and that was, that was really a pivotal thing. For me as a Western man, I really wanted to enjoy time with my wife. And you know, you have more of a kind of a friendship- relationship, right? I mean, you sit down and watch movies together. And you go out to dinner and you talk and stuff, and we kind of had that before moving to Japan. And then once we moved to Japan, then, you know, part of it was my work situation, and part of it was was my wife slipping back into Japanese mode. And it’s like in Japan, you you, you really like the husband is one more kid that you have to take care of. And it’s kind of like so you feed them and clothe them and make sure that they, you know, their their needs are being met. That’s the role of the wife. She takes care of everything to support the husband. I mean, you had in the past, you had in like the samurai days in Japan. You had the wife who would pay for a prostitute, for her husband because her job wasn’t to make him, pleasure him. Her job was to have kids, take care of the kids, take care of the home. So, so even to that extreme where she would she would pay for him to go to the red light district because that was, that was not her responsibility. And and, and so there were there was, so when we went moving back to Japan, it was just kind of, for me it was a really, like shocking, uncomfortable thing as a, as a husband. Where now I’m, you know, her duty is done once I’m fed. And, and once you know, like everything is taken care of in the home. And my work situation didn’t help, so I was coming home from work late. You know, I was teaching in Japan in my head classes from nine in the morning till nine at night. And I’d get home at 10 or 10:30, my wife would be asleep with the kids. I’m not saying this, you know, I really do not mean to say that this is an excuse by any means whatsoever. But it’s kind of, it was, it was such a change for me that then, that was the vulnerability for me. So that there was a vulnerability there that then was exploited and I, you know, it was my choice. But I went down this path of going back and trying to find some, you know, gratification or something that would kind of ease what I was going through the the loneliness or the emptiness that I felt on one level in that way. And you know, so part of what happened with this, is going back talking to my wife, telling her the truth. You know, exposing myself and not just to my wife but to my children, which was extremely difficult. But with my wife was like, and then coming to talk to her, and she never complained about anything. Even if I would do something terrible, not come home until two in the morning and, you know, whatever. But she would never complain, never say anything against that, which to me fueled more like, you know, she’s just gonna accept me for whatever. There’s no requirement on me to be a good husband. So what the hell? You know, I don’t need to be. There’s no notification, there was no accountability, there was no, nothing there. And that just fed, you know, the misdirection that was sitting there, “Come back, come back, come back.” And so now, you know, talking to my wife now, we have, you know, more honest conversation and really talking to her and I was asking her about that. You’re like, what did you feel? What did you think? It’s up and she said that she would cry wanting to die. I mean, this is, I never saw, I never saw anything even remotely like this from her. But she said, “I just was crying and I just wanted to die.” But what she would, her conclusion was, my ancestors probably did something like this to someone else. So I am going to turn this into a victory. So I am going to accept this and I’m going to win over this and not get pulled down into, you know, wanting to die or wanting to give up and get divorced or so. So she handled it very, very differently. When I hear that now, it just makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry for a week. Just that knowing how much I hurt her because she never showed anything. So it was kinda like you know, but but there was there was real, there was real hurt there. And I think, so once you start peeling away the layers of pornography and what it does to a couple. What it does to a family, what it does, you know, to the trust between children and parents, it’s something just so completely ugly. The whole concept of this being a victimless activity goes out the window. And it just isn’t, it causes really deep significant damage to you as a human being. Your own sense of integrity, you know, so for me, it’s like, that was really intense because here I am teaching about, you know, pornography being terrible. And at the same time, not having been able to cut from it completely because it had been so much a part of my self medication. So there was just that sense of, of hypocrisy, and then really wanting the integrity back and I think that’s the hunger for integrity is much stronger than the hunger for anything else. And I want to, I want to have integrity with my daughters, I wanna have integrity with my wife. I want to have integrity with the people when I say that pornography is bad. It’s because I know, I know how bad it is. And so you should listen to me because this this is real. And I just want to take all of that. All of the pain, all of the shame and guilt and, and all of that and turn it into a way to help other people to not experience that.
Andrew Love: Yeah, that’s very powerful. And it’s a way that we can all take our past regardless of where, where we come from. What we’ve done and turn it into a positive, which is to use it, like you said that, that hunger for integrity, although a lot of people might slip and kind of fall into apathy or whatever, that appetite for integrity is still there. It hasn’t gone away, it might be quiet. It’s like it’s a slow burn that never goes away. You’ll always be aware of the dreams that you’re missing out on when you’re living out of integrity because that desire for integrity is in your bones. Whether you acknowledge it or not there. It’s just how much you acknowledge it or not.
Patrick Erlandson: Yeah, one thing I wanted, I wanted to cut a touch on to, is this It’s what happens to a lot of men is they end up, if they start to face it, then a lot of times they’re going well, you know, my wife and my children better off without me. So I should just leave. And, and we see that also in a very large scale. And I think I’ve heard the figure that up to 500,000 divorces are now in some way connected to pornography, which is huge. And, and even though everyone who watches porn is not going to go out and pay for sex with someone in the backseat of their car, or in a motel room, there are by estimates 25 million American men who are paying for sex. That is, a lot of men. And some of those men are going out three, four or five times a week. Some of them only do it once and then they realize that this is a really bad experience and I don’t want that again. And then other people it’s, it’s always there as an option. So when things get bad, when things get stressful, it’s always kind of hanging over them. Not everyone does, not everyone who watches porn is going to go to that point. But, but almost everyone who goes to prostitutes watches porn. It’s like the, you know, it’s one of those things like it’s they’re, they’re, they’re feeding their appetite. And you know, through porn and then that’s, you know so many, so many trafficked girls are saying, guys are coming up with their smartphones and saying “I want to do this to you.” So there.
Andrew Love: Yeah.
Patrick Erlandson: It’s the appetite is being fed by what they’re seeing in porn. And that’s the thing that’s really really scary. Especially when you look at what’s happening with sexual molestation, sexual abuse today, around the world. I mean, there’s, there are figures that there’s a 400% increase I’ve read in child- on- child sexual assault. Or you have, you have young boys watching porn that then go rape some girl at school or they do something to girls at school because they’ve seen it in porn. They actually want to see what that’s like to do it. I mean, there was a case recently of a 12 year old boy who had been, you know, raping a six year old sister, you know, molesting her for two years, I think. Even while the parents were in the other room, but because he was so driven by porn and wanting to know what that was like to actually do it. And the only way they found out was the sister told her friend at school, and that’s how it kind of came out that this is what this kid’s been doing. But we have, we have this, it’s such a it’s such a corruptor of the brain. And, and, and what our original, what we’re hardwired for, I mean, we are hardwired for intimacy. It’s what we really want. We want to be known and loved, right?
Andrew Love: Yeah.
Patrick Erlandson: We don’t want to just be loved for something that’s not real. We want to we want to be loved, and known for really who we are. And that requires integrity and integrity that leads to intimacy, like a true real intimacy. And so all this other stuff is fake, it’s just this kind of artificial. And a friend of mine, he’s a, he used to work with a Christian organization for young people and now he has one of the great organizations fighting trafficking hear from miners in LA. But he was, he wrote a book recently. It’s not out yet but he let me read it. And he talks about, he and some of his friends before they became dads, they got together and they just started really think. So, what kind of father do I want to be for my kid? What kind of, what kind of father do they need to see me be? And so they were very strategic about it, they really just looked at it. They’re gonna need to see me as someone that’s going to protect them, they need to see me as a person who models love for my wife. They need to see me as this kind of person. And so they, they very intentionally went into having children with this idea of modeling what their children wanted. They wanted their children to really learn about love and life and about themselves, and how they lived as fathers. And, and I was so moved by that because if we see the real, the fake is just so much more unattractive. But that, but at the same time porn is just like overrides your brain. I mean, it shuts, it shuts down those the healthier parts of your brain and has you do things that you would never be conceivable. I mean, you know, like a friend of mine works in Bangkok, working in the red light district in Bangkok. And he said, we have American men who are not gay, but they’ll go to Bangkok to pay for sex with teenage boys, because they’re watching porn. And it’s making the, it’s feeding this appetite, that’s changing who they think they are. Changing what they want to do with their lives, and what they’re willing to risk. It’s all coming from porn, and then that just feeds into the kind of the trafficking world. So not only is porn producing a need for actors and you know, actors who can’t say no, because it’s the content becomes more and more violent and more and more degrading. You don’t have people signing up for that. So, not only is there the need then for people who will perform acts without having, without being concerned about what’s happening and the damage being done to their own bodies or, or, you know, because they can’t say no. But also you’re creating this intense demand. You’re you’re, you’re pumping out so much content and and, and twisting people, people’s desires and have appetites in such a direction that they, they’re not going to get it from a girlfriend or a wife so then you, it requires some other body. Again, someone who can’t say no to facilitate that desire and that appetite. So these are things that are, where porn is just absolutely embedded with trafficking. They need, that the one needs the other and creates the other.
Andrew Love: It really seems like the, on the one side, what pornography feeds your mind is that the human, that human sexuality is about twisting people to fit, like doing whatever to their bodies to fit into your fantasy. Whereas true intimacy that you’re talking about is doing whatever you can, you know, to fit into somebody else’s heart. In a sense, like, the other one is about forcing and in coercing and all that to shrink somebody down into what you need them to be for that moment. Whereas, so it’s about shrinking and then truth, and love seems about expansion, right? Expanding your mind and heart to be able to be more loving. To show somebody the love that they want. I can really, you can really see that because it’s, you can coerce somebody and shrink somebody for a period of time. But eventually, they’re gonna break or the it’s, it’s not sustainable, which is why pornography is not sustainable. Which is why you cannot be, you don’t hear about, you know, life- long porn actors and actresses. It’s not like a life- long career. It’s a pretty short career from what I hear, under two years. It’s what I heard statistically but maybe have more accurate information. But I remember, I read that the average porn actress can’t sustain it for longer than two years. Before it physiologically or mentally, everything down.
Patrick Erlandson: Right. There was, there was, I met a man a guy who was a, he became a gay porn actor. And he described, you know, men, you know, men in their 40s having to wear diapers because nothing works down there anymore. They’re just you know, that what they’ve done to their bodies is so completely damaging. And you don’t hear those stories. I mean, you don’t, you don’t hear those things.
Andrew Love: Yeah.
Patrick Erlandson: But the, what’s your, what you’re doing to the physical bodies, what it’s, it’s not really built for and that not meant to do but, you know, it’s like Kinsey’s, you know, Kinsey’s thing that kind of like the only thing that, that shouldn’t be allowed is the thing that physically we can’t do. Just these crazy ideas about sexuality and about, about sex and what we can and can’t do to our bodies. Just awful stuff, but I do what I do. Okay, don’t let me forget this time. But this idea, I wanted to kind of talk also about the idea of men wanting to check out. Because I think for me, it’s like, you’re looking at that and going, “Yeah, look, I’ve made my wife cry. I’ve hurt my daughters. I’ve been a monster.” Like, on the one hand, I’m facing myself and looking at this. And then, it’s like, but then realizing, if I check out like, this still has to be done. There has to be someone who loves my children, loves my wife. You know, it’s kind of like I heard, I heard a talk once where there was a God has a plan A, plan B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J. And it’s like Plan A is, man, we are just all in. You know, mind body unity. We are just totally all together. They’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. Loving perfectly. So that’s plan A, you know, but so many things have happened. We’ve inherited things from our aunt, you know, like our ancestors before us things, things in our DNA, things that have happened to us in the way that we’ve been raised and things we were exposed to. Finding playboy magazines under our dad’s bed, you know, these things that kind of like, then imprinted themselves on us and knocked us off course. But there’s still, there’s a plan B, and then there’s a Plan C, and there’s a plan D. And so it’s like, realizing that to me, it’s kind of been empowering. That it’s kind of like, yeah, I might not be there. But if I just feel guilty and so ashamed of myself and just defeated by by my mistakes, well then, what happens to plan M? That’s like the, the the place where I’m at today. I can be victorious here, I can be victorious now. And so not to get defeated, not to feel like, “Yeah, because I didn’t make it in Plan A or plan B, then I’m worthless and I’m a piece of crap and I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t hang around any longer”. You know, or just go right back and just go all in on, you know, dragging myself up with porn and paying for prostitutes. It’s like, you know, it’s it’s there’s a place where as where we are right now and there’s a there’s a victory for us to have, right now, today. Wherever we’re at, and and not give up on that. And I think to me the, you know, I grew up Catholic and the story that I just absolutely love and that really embodies so much of God to me is The Prodigal Son story. And that you have these two brothers, the one who stays, he keeps working on the farm. He’s doing his best, he’s taking care of things for the family. The other brother’s like man, I gotta get out of here and go taste the world. Takes his money goes out, blows it, parties, experiences, all this stuff that the world has to give, ends up with nothing. And then his, you know, it’s like that. That heart, like I can’t be a son anymore to my dad. I can’t be a son, I’m too bad. What I’ve done is too terrible, so let me just be a servant. Let me just go back and just, you know, beg to be taken and as a servant. And so that heart of, of, of humility, that heart of repentance and regret and yet wanting to go back home. Wanting to go back to, to the place where love really was. And then the father, you know, here he is in the house, he sees his son coming down the road. He drops everything, runs down the road and just grabs his son. And it’s just the greatest joy in the world you know, to have his son be returned to him. And, and he doesn’t care what he’s done. He doesn’t care about those things. He knows those things of all, you know that he’s been hurt by doing those things. But all he wants is just to have his son back home, where he can love him and live with him. And take care of him and share life together. And it to me, that’s, you know, God is just wants his kids home. And it’s like, yeah, he’d like us to come home all neat and clean. But he’ll take us however he can get us, he’s just wants us home. And it’s, you know, I think it’s just such so heartbreaking that so many men are, are still dug in to this idea of just, I mean, I just got to shame myself. I just going to, you know, what I’ve done is too bad. You know, I can’t be loved. I can’t, I can’t go back. And God is just looking, looking out the window every day just waiting for the chance to welcome us home. And I think, if we can get that message through, and I think that’s really where I think high noon, high noon to me really represents that it’s the manifestation of this heart of the of the father, who just wants his kids home. His kids have been taken away by a bad idea. His kids have been taken away by a lie. And, and he’s just, he just wants his kids home. And that’s what I think you guys are doing.
Andrew Love: Yeah, I mean, that’s what we’re striving for. And, well, I would love to hear from you some positive, because this is heavy. And a lot of people don’t like heavy stuff. They just want to talk about all the good news in the world and it’s important to have that balance. That you are, that you find a sincere optimism, and then a way to move forward but you’re also dealing with within reality, not ignoring what’s actually happening in this world. And so you deal with some of the heaviest stuff that, that is imaginable that a human could do to another. And, you know, I know just from, from my end that definitely it’s becoming more of a cultural conversation. Human trafficking is coming out from under, I don’t know this niche, and it’s more kind of mainstream, we’re talking about it. And then at least, it’s contextually correct or not, at least we’re talking about it. So I’d love to hear with some of the, the progress that’s made in some of the, you know, some of the victories that are happening out there too. Because I know that there’s a lot of converging forces that are working together to stop. Like, I’m very unlikely bedfellows to use a. That’s probably the worst time you can use but like, you know, people fighting together that would normally be enemies, but they say, let’s put our differences aside and fight this because this is so egregious, right? So I’d love to hear, like shower me with good news right now, Patrick.
Patrick Erlandson: I’m sorry, I will do that. I will. But I have to raise one more thing. Because one of the things that’s happening as there’s more awareness about human trafficking, people are now really coming up, in fact, and including some of the recent kind of presidential candidates, there are people who are now pushing for this idea that decriminalization of prostitution is the answer. That legalization of prostitution is going to make traffic and go away. In fact, whenever there’s decriminalization or legalization, you have an increase in trafficking because it just, you have then a whole underground criminal side of things that kind of mushrooms. So, so just the one thing is to be aware of that because it’s being billed as the solution to trafficking. Just legalized prostitution, and that’s it. That makes everything okay. It makes everything right and there’s no more trafficking. So beware of that, because it’s an absolutely, it’s, it’s, it’s it’s one more element of lie that actually causes more trafficking to occur, not less. But on the on the brighter side, I mean, there are so many efforts now to really, to raise the awareness and to, and to point people in directions of what they can do. I think for me, something is really heavy and and you’re just gonna hide your head in the sand when you’re not doing anything about it. And so if you know about human trafficking, so if you know that human trafficking is feeding off of pornography, then that should give you an extra weapon to use against, you know, like, against using pornography against going down that road. If you know that you’re going to be supporting and it’s and you don’t have to be paying anything. I think that’s the lie. Pornhub, Pornhub registers every single click. If you click on watching this, Pornhub is monitoring that data really, you know, collecting that data and saying, “Okay, he looked at this. He looked at a man looking at a transsexual man. Okay, we need more of that content, we need more of that, more of that content because we just had 10 people click on that image, or that video.” So even if you’re not paying Pornhub, so so there’s that, you know, again, we have that male ability to justify, and, you know, it’s like, I’m not hurting anybody, because it’s already out there. The contents there, so I’m not doing anything. Every time you click on Pornhub, you are ordering up more of that content to be made. And so that’s one thing so, I mean, I don’t mean that in a in a judgmental way, like, you know, you’re a terrible person. I’ve been there. But it can, it can serve as a greater, you know, kind of, a kind of reinforcement of what you really want to do, which is to not be having children or not be having someone who’s vulnerable, broken. You know, there are for you to, for you to watch. So by not clicking, you’re actually ending human trafficking, if you can make that leap. If you do not click on the Pornhub, you are actually helping to end human trafficking. If you are coming home and saying, you know, coming into your daughter in her bedroom, and you’re just exhausted, you just want to, you just want to go to bed. But you go into your daughter’s room and ask her how her day was and tell her she’s beautiful and tell her how much you loved her. You’re fighting human trafficking. If you make yourself a trustworthy adult to a neighborhood kid who never is around adults, you know, if you’re, if you’re making yourself a trustworthy adult, who can who can, who can plant yourself in the in the, in the life of a young person who just need some encouragement or some support, you’re fighting human trafficking. And I think we need that, it’s like, and so the the, you know, or donate some money. I mean, I’m organizing now our second film and art festival. So we’re getting, you know, one of my students is a Korean kid, I’ve been teaching, you know, I’m an English teacher and he he’s now choreographed a crew dance. You know, for for ending human trafficking. He has this particular talent he’s using that. We have musicians that are contributing songs and music to create something beautiful, as an alternative to the ugly of human trafficking. We’re showing films, we’re showing things in order to, to make people aware, but then pushing them into whatever place you can go to fight human trafficking, there’s a place for you. And I think, kind of being a good dad, being a good dad is preventing a human trafficking victim 10 years from now. So celebrate that, celebrate that we can all actually do something to end this.
Andrew Love: Yeah, it seems like it’s pornography is not victimless. But also, conversely, you know, our influence is not limited either. We can, like you’re saying it’s kind of like be a template for the opposite of human trafficking, which is human connection, right, which is showing somebody what it looks like to be a stable healthy person, so that they can experience the real love that they would otherwise be be unaware of, and and accept substitutes. Just out of ignorance because they don’t even know what the other options are. Right? Yeah. So then you’re kind of looking to give your time and attention to those in your immediate circle your family, your friends, neighbors, but also kind of to look around to see that’s what you know, the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization used to be about I don’t even know if they’re still around, but boy scouts, it was all kind of like set up in that way. And all many of these institutions are kind of I guess falling apart or they just haven’t caught up to the times but now there’s this huge gap where people don’t have that elder sibling relationship locked down, they don’t have their put it into like, you know, parenting has largely been outsourced. You know, you chuck your kid in daycare as quickly as possible. And, and then kindergarten and then and then like you don’t even spend like an hour a day maybe with your kids, right? So I see that. What I mean please let me know if I’m wrong, but I see that a huge contributing factor to resolving this horrible, you know, thing called human trafficking a way to end it in your own kind of time and make a difference in your own way, is to merely invest in the people in your life, right? Like really invest in helping them feel self worth.
Patrick Erlandson: Because that’s, because you’re in that, in that place, what you are doing is you’re in, you’re eliminating vulnerability. That a trafficker would exploit. If you create a daughter who’s self secure, right, who recognizes that she’s loved. She has a stable, she has a stable family that really loves her. She is, she is way down on the list of a person who’s going to be trafficked. You know, just you know if these guys traffickers are in the shopping malls, my daughter was approached by traffickers in the shopping mall. He was like, “Oh, you could be a model you know, you’re giving take my card.” But a lot of those guys are traffickers, their friends for traffickers and they lure you in, by telling you how beautiful you are. And, and what, what we found though is, if the girl turns to the guy and goes, “That’s right I am”, he walks away. He’s not gonna pursue that. And and another another thing too is like, that your daughter, you know what’s happening with so many daughters through social media is that they’re making a relationship with this guy. And one of my students is that Generation Z and one of the things she said is like, we trust a complete stranger on the internet, much more than we trust our own parents. And I, that’s something that every parent has to really consider. That, that if you’re not there, if you’re not being they’re involved in your kid’s life and knowing what their, knowing what they’re doing, and experiencing and feeling, well, somebody else is going to step up and take that role. And, and, and so we have we have girls that are that are chatting with these guys online and falling in love with this person that they think that they now know on Instagram. And in one case in San Bernardino, this girl was, she was a 4.0 student in high school. She was like three weeks away from graduating high school already being accepted into a university. And she’d been playing a you know, games with this guy online games with this guy for about nine months. And she felt that she completely loved him and he said, he wanted her to come to Ireland to see him. He was in Ireland, he was going to take care of them, they’ll have a great life together. She, she ended up getting a part time job while going to school so she could make the money to pay for her ticket to fly to him. She bought the ticket. She actually went and got her passport. She, she was going to leave, I think two days later. And the mother had heard a talk about human trafficking, came home and mentioned this to her daughter. You know that about this. You know, people getting on planes and flying to meet somebody that they met online. And the daughter just completely goes white, and said and brings out her ticket to her plane and her passport and says I was going to leave on Sunday to go meet this guy. And the mother’s just blown away because If she hadn’t, if she hadn’t gone to that talk and learned about trafficking, she wouldn’t have brought it up, and her daughter would have been gone. So they called the police, the police ended up finding that this guy was a trafficker in Ireland. And as soon as she landed on the plane, she would have been gone, and and the mother never would have seen her daughter again. And then in other cases, where it’s like, what we typically do then is we come and say, “Let me see your phone, you are not gonna have your smartphone anymore. I’m taking it away”, right? I mean, your your, your desire to protect is like that. But what’s much more effective if you can develop rapport with your child so that they’re willing to tell you. There was another case, and I think this is really a template for what a lot of parents should do and, and can do in these kind of cases is the the, the daughter was just in love with this guy and she wanted to go live with him. She’s gonna leave she’s like, 17 years old. And and so the mother says, “Well, why don’t you invite him over for dinner? You know, if you love him, then I’m gonna like him. So just invite him over so I can meet him.” And and you know, and then she then she would just say things like, you know, “Where did he go to school?” You know, “What kind of work does he do?” And and you do though, you ask those questions because traffickers never give away anything about themselves. They just listen, they’re gigantic years. And and they’re, they’re collecting data that then they can use against you later. Right? So, so you start asking those questions of your daughter, not in a threatening way, not in an accusing way, but just very, like, “Where did he go to school?” You know, “What does he like to do? What are his hobbies? What does he do?” And the daughter will then realize that she knows nothing about this guy. So she can reach the conclusion herself, that I don’t know anything about this guy. And then the next time she’s chatting with him, she’s going, my mom want you to come over for dinner. And you know, where did you go to school and what do you do and then shut down, the guy disappears. He’s gone, because that’s not you know, he’s lost her at that point. And so it’s like, how to be wise in those kind of cases. When it’s, it’s already reached that point. But, you know, to me again, it’s like if you want to fight human trafficking, be trustworthy, and keep, keep trust with your kids. And allow them to know that they can come and talk to you about anything. That you’re not going to shut them down. You’re not going to slam them, but you but you’re, you’re, you’re someone safe that they can come and talk to. And if you’re an aunt or an uncle, do the same thing be an aunt or an uncle that’s trustworthy.
Andrew Love: And what if you’re a 22 year old young man or a woman, what is a meaningful way that you can sustainably contribute to helping resolve human trafficking?
Patrick Erlandson: Get an AK-47 go down to, sorry, sorry, bad joke. We, we can’t kill all the traffickers and shoot our way out of this. No. But that’s, that’s one of the problems with movies like Taken. It’s kind of lik, you just get you get so angry, you want to go kill pimps. It’s like not a solution. But no, if you’re, if you’re 20, 22 and you’re looking at a, you know, at getting married and having some some life with children in the future, if you don’t have children already. Man, prepare yourself for that. I mean, you got to really be prepared. What are your kids going to want to see? What do they need to see in you as a dad? You know, what do your nieces and nephews need to see in their uncle? What what, you know, we have to really start to think about ourselves in terms of, you know, people are going to be modeling themselves after us. They’re going to look to us and example, they’re going to follow us. So whenever you do, this just came up just recently, someone talking about suicide in their family, and it’s like, you know, three generations of people committed suicide because that becomes the family option. Right? When you have, when you have hard times within. Yeah, my, my dad killed himself. So you know, but but it’s the same thing we we model. And and and we’re designed that way. I mean, the way that, the way that we’re hardwired is, we’re hardwired to look to our parents for the example of how I’m supposed to be, of what kind of person I should be. And we don’t get that because our parents weren’t able to be the people they needed to be. So then that we just passed trauma down. We passed down the lack of it, we know what’s missing from generation to generation. But if we start really, if we start really waking up to that, my kids are gonna model their behavior after me like, what am I doing? What am I? What am I representing to them, you know, the, if you’re a person of integrity, your kids may go through struggles. But but you are, but you’re a rock that they can always come back to. And, and you’re going to, that’s going to be the way that you’re going to keep your kids safer than taking away their smartphones, moving into the, moving into the desert. You know, those are those are not really the realistic solutions to this. But being, being a person of integrity matters more than just about anything else, for your community, for your family, for your children. So I think as a, as , as a young guy, I mean, I encourage people to kind of do to learn about human trafficking, learn what’s going on, because this is something that is prevalent, and it’s much more widespread than we realize. And because of the internet, it’s no longer, well you would ask earlier about, are there times places where it’s more prevalent? It’s everywhere now. It’s everywhere because it’s lucrative. There’s money to be made. And the internet makes everything so much easier and so much more anonymous. There were, there were three high school girls in Canada that were arrested, they were trafficking their classmates. You know, they just saw this is an easy way to make money. And they were, they were threatening and, and, and being extremely mean to these girls. But they were trafficking 13 and 14 year olds, because they, they ended up lording over them and taking this, this power over them, but it was all money. They were just, this is the way to get some cash. And so, if you’re, if you’re a young person, it really does help to learn about what’s happening. And because the internet is just this recruitment that’s going on now, 24/7 through the internet. You really need to be aware of it and to know the signs of how these guys talk to girls and how they talk to children. Yeah, I have so many examples I could share but yeah, not tonight. But no, but become the person, become the person who’s not creating vulnerability and not and, and and check your own entitlement. You know what are you really entitled to? You’re entitled to care and love for another human being with your whole heart, soul and mind and have them respond beautifully to your, to your love. And so that there’s respect at the very basic, the very base of your relationship to each other. And that makes sex pretty darn wonderful. Like when the foundation of it is a respect for each other, and not this kind of usury thing.
Andrew Love: So can I ask what, what, what is the antithesis to the commodification of a human being? So the definition of human trafficking is commodifying and selling, and profiting off of another human being. So what would be the exact opposite? If that’s like the darkest, worst way that you can treat a human being, then what will be the antithesis of that?
Patrick Erlandson: Nurturing and valuing another human being. For as, as a human being. And I and I think that’s, you know, if you come from a faith perspective, and I know, and I work with people who are all across the board, I mean, right, left, up, down. But if you come from a faith perspective, and you do believe that we have a creator, and that we’re and that were made in the image of God, that that’s our base, and it doesn’t matter skin color, it doesn’t matter, gender, it doesn’t matter. And none of these things matter. I mean, you’re you’re made in the image of God. And, and, and my responsibility is to really treat you as a valuable person who has an incredible, you know, gift and, and is irreplaceable in this world. And I think once that really struck me that each and every one of us are irreplaceable. There’s never going to be someone that comes along that can do exactly what you can do. They’re not going to be able to see things exactly the way you see things. They’re not going to feel about things the same way that you feel about things. So you are, irreplaceable, you are uniquely valuable. And, and every time we lose someone to, I mean, another example if I, if I look at the George Floyd case, right? You know, we lost two people that day. We’d lost George Floyd. I mean, this is a man who got his knelt on his neck until he dies. But that policeman, to go to that point where you would kneel on another human being’s neck and kill him, that’s someone who was so damaged and, and, and lost, you know, as a member of the human family. That to me, I mean, my heart broke for both, for both men because I felt like we lost. We lost two men in, from our human family that day. You know, one one, you know, I mean, I, to me, it’s like they were they’re both, they were both children of God. They were both, you know, a brother to me. And one of them went to that extreme where he could kneel on another person’s neck and allow him to suffocate and die. You know, is, that’s a tragedy. That someone, that someone that I care about, did that to another human being and did that to my brother. And so, so if we start to see things in terms of, you know, we’re in this together. We’re in this together and people believe all kinds of things, you know, because of their experiences. And the things that they’ve read and things that they’ve been told and because of their DNA, and I mean, people are just a mix of all these different things that have led them to believe what they believe. But if I treat you no matter what you believe, no matter what crazy stuff you say, or think, I still treat you like a person with with value. That’s transformative. I don’t know if you know, Father Boyle, who started Homeboy Industries.
Andrew Love: Yeah.
Patrick Erlandson: That’s his whole thing. He had his second book, which is really great. It was on radical kinship. And the idea that I really, really, really believe that you’re my brother. If I really, if I, if I approach you that way, and I treat you that way, that’s transformative. No matter how dark you may feel, no matter how entrenched you are in your thing. It’s really hard to stand up to that to someone really loving you and feeling that you’re valuable, even when inside yourself, you’re going, “I’m a piece of crap, I’m worthless. I’m a bum.” You know, and again, I would, I would, I would bring that back to, to what I see is the real value and significance of high noon and that you’re really taking this position. It’s like really, you every single person, you’re that you’re meeting and dealing with no matter what they’ve done. No matter how far, how far down a path they’ve gone. No matter how bad they feel about themselves, no matter how much they may have caused pain to others. You’re saying, you’re really valuable, you’re irreplaceable. And we need you know, we need you to be the person you want to be in the person you need to be. And that’s like, man, that’s powerful stuff.
Andrew Love: Yeah, thank you. So, so is what you’re doing, right? So I’m, I’m glad that we could, we could shed some light on this very dark topic. And also understand that human trafficking I mean, I that’s what I’ve learned in this in this conversation, is human trafficking it’s easy to get lost in the numbers, in the vastness of this topic in the global nature of this topic. That you forget that it’s really about human needs, and the need for each person to feel valued for who they are, not for what they’ve done. Not for what they look like, but for who they are and that, that is irreplaceable. And that is something that we can give to anybody at any point in time. That’s something that we can all do and we all need to work on, because we are surrounded by people all day every day, and so seldom do we take the opportunity to let people know how valuable they are. And that’s a missed opportunity for, in some cases, or tragedy, you know, for avoiding tragedy. And we have that that’s a superpower we have is we can give people God’s love. There’s no power greater than that. It’s just that we forget, other things like, I don’t know, likes on social media or whatever. Instead of pursuing, reminding people, that they are extremely loved by the Divine Creator, right. So, I really like that because it’s feasible as an action step that you can take right now.
Patrick Erlandson: Yeah.
Andrew Love: And you learn the skill of love, you know, relentlessly. And it has more impact than just like your religious duty. Or just like a cute little Instagram quote, it’s like it can transform the entire, you know, destiny of somebody.
Patrick Erlandson: Exactly.
Andrew Love: Get into the habit of doing it, to marginalized people, to lonely people, reminding them that they’re loved. So I really like that because it puts into priority, get your stuff together so that you have stuff to give to others.
Patrick Erlandson: All of, all of that is, you know, I mean, once you once you’re, you know that human trafficking exists, you’re ending it. You consciously make that choice, right? You know, I’m going to, you know, I’m going to really value this perso. I’m gooing to value myself. I’m going to value my integrity, and I’m going to really value another person. You know, and and that’s, that’s actually, that’s eliminating the vulnerability. That’s going to be the environment that someone’s going to be trafficked- in later. And so we can end it. I mean, I just really see this, we’re in an amazing moment in history. And everything’s, everything looks so bad but actually, there is such a consensus now, globally, which we’ve never really had. I mean, you know, slavery has existed for an awfully long time. And that terminology is used now that the modern day slavery is human trafficking. And it’s like, you know, it’s it’s, it’s never been as bad as it is today. There’s never been as many human beings in slavery as there are today than ever before in human history. But more people are on the same page that slavery is wrong. That is evil, and then we need to have the laws in place, and we need to have, we have, we need to have the individual personal integrity, like it really does start with me. If we’re going to end human trafficking, it has to start with me. It’s not, it’s not this, you know, wicked mafia out there, that’s that’s doing all this. It’s not the Jeffrey Epstein’s. It’s, it’s the vulnerabilities that I allow to exist in myself. That would allow me to be a traffic or a trafficker. So how do we, how do we handle those, and we have the power to do that. It’s just so amazing. And like, we had the first film festival that I, that I organized. We had 800 people came to watch films about human trafficking and music and dance and things such as last year. And and the thing that people said when they came out was, that it was fun. And that is not what I expected. But they came out and said, “This was really fun” because they were together with a bunch of people who really cared about people that they were never going to meet. You know, they you’re together with people who really like, we are really really, we are really going to do something to help stop this. We’re going to end human trafficking. And so there was, there was a kind of a celebratory feeling, even though they’re just they just watched them horribly dark film, or something that was really challenging. But the feeling was, you know, we’re doing something about it. So therefore, it’s this is this is not something that’s, “Oh, wait, that’s crushing me”. This is something actually, “I’m on the, I’m on the winning end of this and we’re going to, we’re going to win this and, and see this end.” And we can, it’s just like, I mean, I look at the Coronavirus, look at this. The world completely got turned upside down and three months because of a disease. Right? But that means the converse is true, right? If we have the right idea, the right spirit, the right, the right motivation, the world can tip. You know, we can have a profound impact on the world today, like, like has never been possible in human history. We have this. It’s within our grasp.
Andrew Love: I love it. So I know that you have a website. I know that people are going to want to reach out and ask you more questions. So what is a good way for people to connect with what you’re doing and with you as a human, as well?
Patrick Erlandson: So the best way to reach me is through my email address, or you do have a website? I’ll give that to you but it’s firstname.lastname@example.org. So it’s, it’s P-A-T-R-I-C-K, dot U-N-H-C-R at gmail dot com. And then the website, we’re rebuilding, we’re creating this whole platform that’s gonna actually become a community for the entire human trafficking effort. And, and, and a platform for the entire arts community to be part of. So right now, this is being built the platform so we still have our website, but it’s going to transform into this platform in the next like three, four weeks. But it’s seeitendit.com, so it’s see, S-E-E-I-T-E-N-D-I-T dot com. See it, end it, dot com.
Andrew Love: C-E-E or S-E-E?
Patrick Erlandson: S-E-E. I’m so sorry, did I say C?
Andrew Love: We’ll have everything in the show notes. We have an amazing helper to make this all possible. So it’ll all be in the show notes. Please reach out to him, please learn more. Learn as much as you can so that it can feed you’re doing and like he said, I really liked that. I learned that today as well that you only feel overwhelmed if you feel like yeah, you can’t contribute to. And we just outlined the solution, honestly. It’s learning how to fill yourself up with an understanding of your own value and then passing that off to as many people as you can through out your days. And it’s, it’s a huge difference. You have no idea. Like when was the last time somebody called you just to remind you of how great you are. That’s the power we have at all times. I’m probably never, if ever I think, maybe one time it’s happened to me so we have that superpower. Let’s do it. Thank you so much for joining us. This is part one of, there will be more, for sure. And yeah, thank you for letting us steep in this very interesting and complex, and deep and painful but somehow hopeful topic. Thank you so much.
Patrick Erlandson: Thank you so much. I really appreciate being here. And anytime, anything you need.
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