Over the last several months, Destiny Rescue’s (an organisation whose rescue work in Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines Child Rescue helps fund) team in the Philippines has begun pursuing more cases of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC or OSEC) in the region as this particularly horrific form of child abuse continues to increase.
Investigating OSAEC cases is arduous; criminals hide behind layers of fake personas and victims are notoriously challenging to locate. Children can suffer abuse for years before agents and officers have accumulated enough data to build a case and track down abusers who often live a continent away.
Reaching into the dark
In the meantime, the horrifying videos and photos our agents help police pore through leave their mark. Because of the nature of the internet, OSAEC victims are often younger, the customers are more twisted in their indulgences—and agents must witness those atrocities in an effort to locate the victims and maximise the charges brought against offenders.
Being forced to watch such unspeakable cruelties is heartbreaking, but knowing they may find some small clue in the process spurs agents to complete their work as quickly as possible—because the alternative is much worse.
One of Destiny Rescue’s agents, Athena, said it best: “This is the reason why undercover work is done meticulously, covertly and carefully: one mistake can cost the life and freedom of the child.”
Their reason for viewing this sickening material is simple: “we watch it so it ends with us.”
In addition to helping local authorities locate traffickers and their victims, Destiny Rescue’s agents have also assisted in raids to free these children. After the police carefully collate the combined evidence into a cohesive case, rescue operations must be swift and seamless to prevent the trafficker from escaping with the children.
Officers have to act fast so that traffickers don’t destroy all the evidence amassed on their devices: recovering phones and other devices is paramount to completing the body of evidence for prosecutors as well as locating and rescuing other victims.
Healing from uniquely acute trauma
But as Athena pointed out, the raid is only the beginning for these survivors: “The real heavy workload lies in the hands of the social workers and counsellors in charge of the healing and rehabilitation journey of the child survivor.”
As unthinkable as it may seem, most of these poor victims are abused by their parents or guardians. Paid by paedophiles and predators all over the globe, parents follow the paying offender’s twisted online instructions, abusing their children in front of a camera. Because the victims trust and even love the person who feeds, clothes and raises them, they often don’t fully understand the abuse they suffer. Some kids are enticed with toys or shopping trips if they cooperate, led to believe this is a perfectly normal way to earn money. They’re told by their parents that the strange “play” they endure helps feed the family and that the humiliation they suffer in front of a camera is actually a way of showing love.
During a raid, these hurt children don’t understand that they’re being rescued from an abuser; they only feel like they’re being taken from their parents. It can take years of counseling and trauma therapy to comprehend what’s happened to them and heal from the suffering.
That’s why brave social workers rush in seconds after police secure the area. Their job is to lessen the trauma of the event and quickly relocate the children to a safe, comfortable location.
After initial health checks, the children are separated from the chaos of the raid and taken to a child-friendly room with toys and games at police headquarters. This room is designed to be a calm, peaceful space apart from all the stressful law enforcement actions. While there, licensed social workers begin sensitive, trauma-informed interviews to complete the police investigation.
Then the real work begins. Once the children are taken to government-run or private shelters, officials decide what recovery path each child will take and for how long. Specially trained social workers are instrumental in helping the child begin the arduous healing process as gently as possible.
The task is daunting, but the rewards are worth the effort.
Survivors’ journeys to healing will be long, but thanks to the combined efforts of Destiny Rescue’s agents and police, their journeys have begun.
If you’d like to be a part of stopping this vile trade, please consider becoming a Rescue Partner. Your monthly gift will help fund raids that rescue children and put their offenders behind bars.
Fill out the form below to rescue a child today.
Get them out.
You can put them on the path to freedom.
Donate with Confidence
Child Rescue Charitable Trust and Child Rescue Charitable Aid Trust are registered New Zealand charities. Separate returns for each charity are filed each year with Charities Services which is a NZ Government organisation under the Department of Internal Affairs.
Annual reports to Charities Services can be viewed here
Please note: Annual Reports on this website will refer to ‘Destiny Rescue’ – Child Rescue’s name in New Zealand until August 2017.