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Trafficking. More common than you think.

Have you ever met a person and felt a special connection. They buy you gifts or fulfill your needs emotionally or romantically. They build trust with you and you feel like you have something special, but what if the relationship was going in a completely different direction. When we think of the idea of sex trafficking, we envision a stranger coming and taking you. We never see it happening through a friend or someone that we trust.

I was talking to a student the other day about safety on social media, and quickly they responded with, “Don’t worry it is only my friends and I don’t share with anyone else. I am safe.” Many of us have this idea that as long as we know someone and trust them then they would never hurt us on purpose. The scary truth is that human trafficking usually starts with a process called grooming through an individual that has grown close to you.

By definition grooming is preparing or training a person for a particular purpose or activity. Traffickers tend to target someone with a noticeable vulnerability whether that be emotional, financial or many other needs. They gain trust and information from that person and then start to fill those needs. That could be through gifts, financial help, being a friend, beginning a love relationship, or buying them alcohol or drugs. This is not an obvious process. Many people who are being groomed do not feel like this person could harm them or feel unsafe with this individual. They have built trust and have not tried to push them physically in the relationship. After a person has made these steps they will start to isolate you from friends or family and this person will start to play a major role in your life. For many people this could seem like just a really good friendship or a great new romance, but soon the trafficker will start to ask to be repaid in some way. Many times the trafficker will demand sex as a payment option. At the end, a person can find themselves stuck because of fear that comes from threats, violence or blackmail.

You may think this is not something that would ever happen to me, yet over 20.9 million people are victims to trafficking globally. Minnesota had the third highest numbers of human trafficking cases in 2015.

Below is a list of potential red flags to look for in other relationships or people to protect yourself and others from possible human trafficking.

General Warning Signs:
Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior:
Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid.
Avoids eye contact
Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or of what city he/she is in

Poor Physical Health:
Appears malnourished
Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
Shows signs of substance abuse or addiction Lack of Control:
Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport) Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves
Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes

School Specific Warning Signs:
Sudden change in attire, behavior, relationships, or possessions (e.g., has expensive items) Misses school on a regular basis and/or has unexplained absences
Carrying more than one cell phone
Picked up by different people every day after school
Falling asleep in class regularly
Frequently runs away from home
Makes references to frequent travel to other cities or towns
Shows signs of drug addiction and/or physical abuse
Has coached/rehearsed responses to questions
Is uncharacteristically promiscuous and/or makes references to sexual situations that are beyond age-specific norms Has a “boyfriend” or a “girlfriend” who is noticeably older

Students, watch for someone who…
… is older than you that is romantically interested in you … is telling you everything you want to hear
… is pulling you away from friends or family
… wants you to go away with them
… wants to meet you where no one else is around
… wants you to have sexual conversations or send sexual pictures
… is giving you expensive gifts or showing you expensive items & telling you that you can live a similar lifestyle
… is telling you they know of a job where you can get rich, but they’re not willing to disclose details about this job

If you believe you are a victim of human trafficking or may have information about a potential trafficking situation, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.

LOVE IS A CHOICE MORE THAN A FEELING

We tend to focus on falling in love and use the feeling of love to determine the duration of a relationship.  It’s pretty easy to fall in love, but its also pretty easy to fall out of love.  Of course, when a relationship is new, it’s fun and easy to get to know somebody.  In the beginning, all we do is constantly think about that person and we want to spend all our waking hours with them.  After time, feelings can start to fade and it starts to take work to keep the love alive and at that point choosing to stay in love will be a choice that we must make.  Staying in love takes a commitment.  When the newness fades away we have to make a choice to love this person and make a commitment or let the relationship go.  Each day we must make a choice to see the good in the other person rather than focus on the negative.  Every relationship will not be perfect.  We should strive to be supportive of our partner, because we cannot expect something from them that we are not willing to give ourselves.  If something bothers you then discuss it, but sometimes we just need to pick our battles and move forward.  Trying to change our partner is one of the biggest mistakes in a relationship.  In every relationship there will be trying times and hard times.  We need to choose to work through it together and always remember why we made the commitment to love that other person.

Love is about choices….we choose to see the good and ignore the petty, look for what we could do to encourage and be supportive of our partner and always remember why we love that other person.  When you work together through the ups and downs that is how we receive the wonderful reward of staying in love.

 

 

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness

Everyone in their life at some point has experienced pain or hurt from someone else’s actions, words or decisions. Some of them have come from people who mean a lot to us in our lives. Many times that pain stems from previous relationships, and unless dealt with it will continue to impact future relationships. Studies show that forgiveness is one of the biggest contributors to healthy relationships. A book, ‘Dating Declassified’, states it this way, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die from it.” It may seem like forgiveness is for the other person, but ultimately it is for yourself. One absolute in relationships is that you will have hurt, disappointments and can grow resentful. You need to decide now how you will deal with that. Will you push bitterness aside or will you face it head on and forgive. One standard we challenge every person to live their life by is, “Deal with your anger, hurt and fears head on.” It is easy to say, but hard to actually do. How do I actually “deal” with those feelings and let go? Can I let go?
The first hill to overcome is admitting that the pain impacts your life. With my personality, my common phrase after ranting about what someone just did is “It really isn’t that big of a deal.” But yet I still cling to the words or actions of someone else. Instead of just brushing it off, ask yourself, “Why am I offended?” and “Was it their motive to offend me?” Both of these questions have immediate responses, but the true answers to these questions will start you on the right path to forgiveness. Often the reason we feel hurt is not actually the true reason behind our pain. At one of my previous jobs, I struggled with the feeling of being a part of the team. When I was at work, I felt not accepted, not liked and honestly ignored. I started to grow bitter toward certain employees. When asking myself what offended me, it wasn’t that anyone had spoken words of dislike, but it was because I was not being included in team events. After communicating my feelings of hurt and the true reason of longing to be more involved and help out, we were able to move forward as a team and I felt loved and accepted by all. Find the source of your pain.
The second hill to overcome is learning how to let go. A very smart person once said that forgiving is not about forgetting, but it is about how to move past. Maybe you feel like you can’t forgive someone because you deserve that hurt and have a right to that pain. Even if that is true, that pain will eat away at you and grow into bitterness and resentment. You deserve more than pain and hurt, you deserve healing that can only come through forgiveness. Finally, remember that when you let go, it means to let go.
Every person’s story is different, and I can’t promise that the moment you forgive all the pain and hurt will disappear. However, I can promise you that if you can learn to forgive and heal, you can walk away with life, joy and peace. So think the next time you find yourself hurt and bitterness starting to harbor, “How can I forgive and move forward instead of hanging on?”

College-Where Singles Mingle

“A fresh new start.”  What many freshman college students look forward to is being able to meet new people, let their past go, and start fresh.  Uncertain, excited, scared, and ready to spread wings and fly!   Oh how I love the excitement that comes with this season of life!  I dropped my baby girl off just this last weekend for her “fresh new start.”   In less than a week I have heard the stories of new friends and the journey’s they have taken.  You can bet as I dropped her off I felt uncertain, excited, scared and ready for her to spread her wings…but I also felt what most parents feel when they drop off their kids at school, we hope they do not loose their head, be dumb, go wild with sex, drugs, and alcohol!  Now, my daughter has never valued those things as an experience she wanted and my guess is she is not going to “fall off her rocker.”  But I do believe the in the power of infatuation and know what that can do to one’s child which can lead them to “falling off their rocker” in a whole other way.

So here are some red flags to watch for when determining whether or not to pursue a relationship according to http://www.newhopeforwomen.org/abuser-tricks, but what I would like to point out is it’s not only women who need to watch out for these red flags they are for men as well. Best of luck freshman as you start this new season.  Know that EMERGE is a free and safe place to come for relationship advice and for life coaching.

Jealousy
At the start of the relationship, an abuser will equate jealously with love. The abuser will question the victim about who the victim talks to, accuse the victim of flirting, or become jealous of time spent with others. The abuser may call the victim frequently during the day, drop by unexpectedly, refuse to let the victim work, check the car mileage, or ask friends to watch the victim.
Controlling behavior
In the beginning an abuser will attribute controlling behavior to concern for the victim (for example, the victim’s safety or decision-making skills). As this behavior progresses the situation will worsen, and the abuser may assume all control of finances or prevent the victim from coming and going freely.
Quick involvement
A victim often has known or dated the abuser for a brief period of time before getting engaged or living together. The abuser will pressure the victim to commit to the relationship. A victim may be made to feel guilty for wanting to slow the pace or end the relationship.
Unrealistic expectations
An abuser expects the victim to meet all of the abuser’s needs, to take care of everything emotionally and domestically.
Isolation
An abuser will attempt to isolate the victim by severing the victim’s ties to outside support and resources. The batterer will accuse the victim’s friends and family of being “trouble makers.” The abuser may block the victim’s access to use of a vehicle, work, or telephone service in the home.
Blames others for problems
An abuser will blame others for all problems or for the abuser’s own shortcomings. Someone is always out to get the abuser or is an obstacle to the abuser’s achievements. The victim or potential victim will be blamed for almost anything.
Blames others for feelings
An abuser will use feelings to manipulate the victim. Common phrases to look for: “You’re hurting me by not doing what I want.” “You control how I feel.”
Hypersensitivity
An abusive person is easily insulted, perceiving the slightest setbacks as personal attacks.
Cruelty to animals or children
This is a person who punishes animals brutally or is insensitive to their pain. The abuser may expect children to perform beyond their capability (for example whipping a two-year-old for wetting a diaper or teasing children or siblings until they cry).
“Playful” use of force in sex
This behavior includes restraining partners against their will during sex, acting out fantasies in which the partner is helpless, initiating sex when the partner is asleep, or demanding sex when the partner is ill or tired. The abuser may show little concern for his partner’s wishes and will use sulking and anger to manipulate compliance.
Verbal abuse
This behavior involves saying things that are intended to be cruel and hurtful, cursing or degrading the victim, or putting down the victim’s accomplishments.
Rigid sex roles
The victim, almost always a woman, will be expected to serve. For instance, a male abuser will see women as inferior to men, responsible for menial tasks, stupid, and unable to be a whole person without a relationship.
Dual personality “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”
Explosive behavior and moodiness, which can shift quickly to congeniality, are typical of people who beat their partners.
Past battering
An abuser will beat any partner if the individual is involved with the abuser long enough for the cycle of abuse to begin. Circumstances do not make a person an abusive personality.
Threats of violence
This consists of any threat of physical force meant to control the partner. Most people do not threaten their mates but an abuser will excuse this behavior by claiming “everyone talks like that.”
Breaking or striking objects
This behavior is used as punishment (breaking sentimental possessions) or to terrorize the victim into submission.
Any force during an argument
This may involve an abuser holding down his the victim, physically restraining the victim from leaving, or pushing or shoving. Holding someoneback in order to make demands, such as “You will listen to me!” is also a show of force.

Keeping the Spark

Everyone desires to have “a spark” in their relationship and wants to keep it going throughout the life of the relationship. Countless couples complain about losing “the spark” in their relationship. Some say it is differences that have shown up, slowly growing apart or just becoming too familiar. The loss of “the spark” has caused people to lose hope in their relationships or has caused them to search for it in new relationships.

“The Spark” that so many people talk about is actually intimacy, but real intimacy does not always look like a lovey-dovey happy every moment of the day kind of intimacy. One of the biggest lies we have believed in relationships is that love is a feeling. True love is not based on a feeling it is about a choice. A phrase I say a lot is, “I don’t like my husband everyday, but I love him everyday.” May sound mean, but it is true. In every friendship or relationship, we all have moments where someone does something that frustrates us. You can choose to let your feelings rule your relationships. It is your choice to choose love or to choose to not love.

Many people use the phrase we just fell out of love with each other, however if you can fall out of love means that you can fall into love which means that intimacy can be created or broken in seconds. Studies show that intimacy takes time to grow and trust is built through that time. If intimacy takes time, love takes time, and the longer you are together the deeper the intimacy and the deeper the love.

Now with some of the basics laid out there that you choose to grow apart and you choose to grow closer, the main question of how to keep “the spark” still needs to be answered.

When people start a relationship, it is fun and full of adventures. You and your partner are trying out new adventures and creating first moments. One way to keep “the spark” alive is to keep sharing adventures. Life gets busy and time seems limited, but if you keep dreaming and adventures at the front of the relationships intimacy grows in those moments. Sharing new experiences reveals vulnerability that is not always shown in everyday life. Create moments where you do things the other person loves to do and invest in each other You want the spark, SHARE NEW ADVENTURES.

As a mom with kids and a busy schedule, my conversations are filled with facts and information and I miss out on the relational conversation that is a necessity for relationships to thrive. Be open and share what you are experiencing in life. Stay close to each other not out of obligation, but on a real level to help develop and grow your relationship. Maybe you have grown distant because you have neglected taking time to talk about things other than every day life. TAKE TIME TO TALK.

If you have been in any relationship for a long time, you know that we can tend to catalog any negative traits or things someone has done. Keeping track of other people’s wrongs can cause us to harbor anger towards our significant other.Built up anger can cause use to become cynical in relationships. With a cynical attitude, we struggle to find the positive outlook on anything. We become pessimistic in our relationships which can cause your spouse to feel hopeless about the future of the relationship. Be open with your significant other about your frustrations and remember to keep an open mind.

For more about EMERGE, give us a call at 320-252-4150 or text us at 320-200-4306.Keep

Arguing. Is it normal?

Welcome back to our blog! If you guys have joined us more recently, we love to share with you guys about some of the struggles and questions that come up in relationships. If you have a question you are more than welcome to comment or give us a call at 320-252-4150 or text us at (320) 200-4306. We offer free relationship coaching!
One question we hear often from people is about arguing. Now I am sure all of us have taken part in an argument with a parent, significant other or friend. Many people ask the question, “Is it normal to argue in relationships?” Now before we get started we want you to know that each relationship is different and everyone has a different idea of what an argument would look like. Many times our arguments come up because we all are wired a little different, and we all process things differently in our minds and actions. Check out our previous blog to learn more about Personality Styles. However, the simple answer is “Yes” it is common to argue in relationships. Yet the question is not in the “if” but in the “how”.
If you have ever been in an argument, you have probably found the urge to prove your point and stand your ground. Many of us feel this inner urge to win our arguments and claim victory as the smarter one. However, my view changed one day when I met up with a friend at a coffee shop. After a long explanation of the argument I had just had with my spouse, I yelled out, “and I won!” After a few giggles, she looked at me and asked a question that she had been asked years before. “Did you ever realize that if you win, that means your husband loses?” An obvious conclusion, but it switched my view that day. I had such a desire to win arguments and prove that I was right, but did I realize what that did to my spouse?
My husband and I are both stubborn and will dig our heels in to win an argument and one thing we learned with our arguing was that we both had to play fair. The ultimate goal of an argument is not to prove my point, but to find common ground and to hear each other out. And when I started to change my mind about the “how” of arguing, I realized I was spending more time on the fireback response to make my point than to hear the other person out.
All of us are wired different, some of us fight to the end of an argument, others will give in and agree to anything to make an argument end, and others avoid conflict or push it off. Today I want to give you 3 bites to chew on when evaluating the “how” of an argument.

  1. Remember in every argument, there is always someone losing-
    I am one of the most competitive people there is, I love to win, but sometimes my emotions are so focused on winning that are forget that every time I win, my spouse loses. Remind yourself that the goal of the argument is to find common ground and hear each other out. Most of the times in an argument both people are at fault, so instead of focusing on a win, focus on hearing each other out.
  2. Eliminate the BOO-YAH comments-
    All of us can come up with a great comeback response to make our point. But before you share the Boo-yah comments as I like to call them, think and ask the question, “Will this bring resolution and progress the conversation?” If it won’t bring resolution or progress the conversation, hold the comment in. Usually the Boo-Yah comments leave a person hurt or attacked. There is an intimacy that comes with arguments, and if a person feels hurt and attacked in an argument they are more likely to shut down or expect to be hurt in future arguments.
  3. Not everything needs to be an argument-
    We all have imperfections and all of us will have differences. Just because someone is different, doesn’t mean it needs to be an argument. Sometimes we let things become an issue. If you have an issue with someone, have the awkward and honest LOVING conversation before it becomes an argument. Sometimes sharing your honest feelings and thoughts can be a stop sign before the argument happens.

So when you feel an irritation or an argument starting to rise up, remember the goal is to find a common ground, use words that will help and not hurt and confront issues before they get to the point of an argument. If you always find your spouse and you in arguments find help and support and check out EMERGE.

What does it take to make this work?

He is outgoing and I am quiet. She loves to take risks and I like to live on the safe side. How different can you be and still make a relationship work? What are some requirements of similarities that are needed in order to make a relationship? Can two totally different personalities work together in a relationship? The truth is when it comes to a relationship any personality styles can go together. However, each relationship will have its struggles and its benefits.

The place to start is to first define personality. Many times we define character and personality as the same thing, but they are different in many ways. Personality is defined as a set of personal and emotional traits. To make it simple personality comes out in how we handle work and relationships and goals and dreams. Any personality can be mixed with any other personality.

Personalities can be described by using animals like a lion, otter, beaver and golden retriever, or with letters like DISC. There are a variety of different tests you can take online to learn about yourself. No matter what type of test you use, it is important in a relationship to know your own and your significant other’s personality style. One may want immediate results and the other may tend to procrastinate. Certain personality styles have very few close and deep relationships, where others have a lot of friendships that may not go as deep. None of the styles are bad, but they are different.

One way to have a healthy relationship when it comes to personality is find out you and your partner’s personality, and talk about the differences. It will help you understand why you act the way you act and how you work under pressure and the different needs that each person has. It will help to relieve some of those arguments that may happen when one person is a planner and the other likes to be spontaneous. Some of the character traits when combined can be harder than others, but it helps to know how each other is wired. So go find a fun test online and find out your personality style.

However, character is a bit different. Character is defined as our morals, values and beliefs. It is the foundation of who we are. When it comes to character, your character is going to attract the same type of character. Your values will attract similar values. Your beliefs are going to attract similar beliefs.

So why can’t people with different morals make a relationship work? Ultimately one of you will end up adapting your morals to fit the other person. Morals and values should be things in your life that you stick to no matter who you are in a relationship with. Before you get into a relationship define the morals and values that you have in your life. Sit down and define the characteristics that you want in another person and look at yourself and see if those are characteristics that you represent. If you have a character that represents long, committed and honest relationships, you will attract people who desire the exact same thing. Sometimes we look for certain values in another person, yet we don’t carry those same characteristics. The secret is you can’t just find the “right person”, you have to become the right type of person. So look at your list of what you desire in another person and then do a self-analysis to make sure you carry that same character.

So what do you need in a relationship to make it work? Each of you need an understanding of what type of personality style you possess and find someone who has the same morals, values and beliefs. In the long run if you don’t have the same character as your partner one person will adapt to the other or give up on some of their beliefs. A person who gives up on these character traits can cause resentment and hurt. However, if you understand your own personality and your values and beliefs it will be easier for you to find someone who you will be compatible with! Grab a bowl of popcorn and find a personality test online and start learning about yourself tonight!