“How could they do that to her, she’s somebody’s daughter!”
Popularized in recent media, “somebody’s daughter” has become a phrase commonly used when referring to victims and survivors of violent crimes. We hear it a lot when we talk about trafficking survivors. While the sentiment is often meant well, you won’t hear RAHAB’s team using this popular phrase – and there are a few reasons for that.
If you haven’t heard the phrase, or you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it is often used in a sentence similar to the one above. “How could they do that to her, she’s somebody’s daughter!” The phrase takes victims of violent crimes, often adult females, and pictures them as children in relationship with their parent. We commonly hear it from parents. They are thinking of their own children, and the unfathomable pain endured if this crime happened to their child. Their heart is in the right place, but the phrase can cause damage to the survivors it’s aimed at.
To reframe this phrase, “How could they do that to her? She’s somebody’s daughter!” does not equal “How could they do that to her?”
No victim or survivor of violent crime deserves what has been done to them, regardless of their identity. Every person has inherent worth and value themselves, not because of their relation to another person. You wouldn’t assign a higher value to someone because they were a parent or a sister, that person has value regardless of the others in their life. But this phrase does just that. It takes a survivor who has had something unjustly done to them and minimizes their experience. They become “someone’s daughter” versus being “someone.”
Another reason you won’t hear RAHAB using this phrase is because there is often a familial component of trafficking. It’s not that we are denying survivors are someone’s biological daughter, but we want to acknowledge that they may no longer want to identify with biological family. They also may not have even been raised in a familial setting. At RAHAB, we strive for those we serve to see their own value and worth, not just their value or worth to other people.
Familial trafficking is when victims are trafficked by a family member. It is one of the most common forms of trafficking occurring in the US. The myth that traffickers are unknown, dangerous strangers is one that RAHAB works diligently to dispel. Often, those we serve know their trafficker. They may even be the daughter of their trafficker.
For someone who has been trafficked by a parent or a family member, the phrase “somebody’s daughter” can cause even deeper pain. Because she wasn’t a stranger’s daughter, she was their daughter. These familial relationships can be painful, complicated, and traumatic for survivors.
Daughter of God
Finally, all of the women we serve are not just “somebody’s” daughter – they are a daughter of God.
To imply that they only belong to a parent is to deny their true identity in Jesus. God loves all of His children and there is no human relationship, or lack thereof, that justifies sin or violence done unto another.
We know we cannot completely erase this phrase from society. But we hope the next time you hear it, or you start to say it, that you’ll pause for a moment.
She doesn’t need to be someone’s daughter to acknowledge her hurt & pain at the hands of another. She doesn’t need to be someone’s anything for her to deserve a life free of pain and affliction.
RAHAB is in the business of building up survivors, showing them their true identity in Jesus, and their value apart from the world. You can be a part of that too.
By Rebecca Kahle