The Sound of Freedom brings the Darkness to Light

by | Jul 10, 2023 | Countering Human Trafficking & Gender-Based Violence

I was weeping within 10 minutes of the opening scene.

I thought I was impervious to these feelings. My 22-year-old tender heart, which was so gripped by stories of trafficked children, that it moved to the action of making a career out of supporting them, was accessed again, two decades later.

In the middle of a hot summer day, I walked into the cool, dark theater, here on a work assignment.  It seemed simple enough: Watch the newly released Sound of Freedom film, document my impressions and share them in a post.

I wasn’t expecting to feel what I felt. 

I think I’m used to the narrative: A white male, with the means and the brawn, rescues suffering children. That was the narrative I expected. It wasn’t so far-fetched, because the lead character has white skin and the prominent role I remember him for was playing Jesus in The Passion of the Christ.  Well, let’s just say it was a setup for expecting that stereotype on screen. I hate that this narrative denies, or at minimum, overlooks, that survivors are the heroes of their own stories, as they clearly are in this film.

I’m not going to give away any spoilers here, because I actually want you to go to a theatre and see it for yourself. While many of the tactics depicted diverge from those utilized by World Hope, there were places of intersection, as it touches on the dark world of children sold for sex online. In this sense, it felt highly relevant to the work we’re doing at World Hope. In the last year, we’ve served over 200 survivors globally, we’ve trained more than 10,000 school children on protection from trafficking and our specialized curriculum for practitioners is in eight universities in the Philippines (the epicenter of Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children, also known as OSAEC) with plans to expand to over 100 universities in the coming year.  The film also highlights the oft-overlooked aspect of trafficking and sexual abuse of boys. Abuse of girls is hard enough for most people to talk about, but abuse of boys is hidden behind yet another veil of secrecy. This film went there, and World Hope does too, as we serve male survivors and also work with partners to acknowledge the reality, educate on how to care for them and work to destigmatize survivors.
Is the film perfect in its portrayal? Does it paint a completely realistic picture of what happens in most trafficking cases, including removal of survivors? Does it depict the long road to recovery that survivors face? No, no and no.

But in the words of  Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.”  And the fact that this film is a fictionalized account of a true story furthers its ability to provide a glimpse into a world that we know exists OUT THERE, but remains cloaked in denial, secrecy and a belief that only certain heroes have the ability to act and make changes.

All of these serve to keep the issue at arm’s length and paralyze us to act. We must not become paralyzed, nor hold this depravity at arm’s length. As one of the characters in the movie said, “I am the darkness.” The darkness isn’t only happening on a remote island in South America; it’s happening on our neighbors’ cell phones, our friends’ laptops and in every country on earth.

Is the film worth seeing? Yes. Yes. And Yes. Please go and see it. Then let me know what you think. Because the more we talk about this insidious, loathsome darkness, the more you, your neighbor and the world at large will be forced to acknowledge it and choose whether they will become the light that will help overcome it once and for all. Reach out to me at: haley.clark@worldhope.org

Haley Clark

Haley Clark

Director of Anti-Trafficking and Gender-Based Violence

World Hope International
Learn more about World Hope’s work to educate, protect and support survivors of human trafficking: https://worldhope.org/our-work/protection/

Support this life transforming work through your donation: Donate Today.

Buy or claim a free movie ticket to watch “Sound of Freedom” in theaters near you.

Image and Video Used by Permission: Angel Studios

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