TITLE: Inside the Demand Project

Written by Teresa Goodnight

Who The Demand Project Helps

Jason and Kristin Weis of The Demand Project said, “The kids most at risk are those with a lot of trauma in their past somewhere. It’s usually a pattern of trauma that starts a cycle leading to their victimization. Soon, they are involved in criminal activities, but they are really a victim.” Kristin went on, “Sometimes we get girls needing help later in life, like in their 20s and 30s, but it happens usually around the ages of 12 to 14 or 15.” Kristin explained that these kids become trapped in a world that becomes their new norm. Some are chained to beds and drugged, but many also choose to stay.

The Real Stories of Trafficking

Jason Weis of The Demand Project focuses on catching the criminals, while his wife Kristin comes in on the crisis intervention and restoration side. Kristin said, “So I’ll give you an idea of their life. We had a girl at 27. Her trauma started when she was 14 at a party with no supervision. She gets raped. The rapist was identified; the person got arrested. So, she got justice to an extent, but then there really wasn’t any restoration.”

Kristin continued, “So by the age of 15 going into 16, she meets a guy. He turns out to be a bad guy, who ends up pimping her out and getting her started in that whole life. Now, she’s in a scenario where she could get caught and be charged with criminal behavior, because of what these traffickers were having her do.”

“So, she looks like the bad guy, but really she was just a victim being used. The authorities also were getting her on recruiting because they always have these girls recruit volunteers. Even in this horrible life, these girls recruit people all the time, because that’s what the business is. It’s not one and done. It’s one and then you go out and bring somebody back. So, they’re always recruiting. These girls have so many different job descriptions,” said Kristin.

Kristin shared, “I was telling this girl yesterday I think you should write a whole profile on your job descriptions as a trafficking victim. Then I want you to put on the other side why you did those things. Why you recruited. Why you watch the front desk of a massage parlor. Why you took a person back there and had sex with them. Why you charge this amount. Write about what you did with your money. Write about how you marketed the massage parlor. Everything is just twisted and perverted for a person that’s running the whole business, which we call a trafficker.”

“Don’t kid yourselves, this is big business.”

Jason and Kristin stressed, “There’s a consumer and that creates the demand. That’s why we call this The Demand Project. There’s a consumer consuming kids for their sexual perversion. Then, you have a trafficker. Usually each person operates as a single predator on a single victim of sexual perversion. But some traffic sexual servitude to fill the demand.”

Jason said of the guys doing their own recruiting and pursuits, “Their intention might be one person, but then due to that one person (because of social media), they can make that one person they found turn into more and more people. They get access to her friends list. It’s a predator’s new network of potential targets. It’s like the perverted kid is in a candy store.” I’m on social media a lot. He’s not wrong. I constantly get suggestions of new friends based on my interests, my groups, or my friends. It’s an active linking system to like-minded people. It’s easy to see it’s quickly a massive play for the predator.

Jason said, “On the criminal side, there are different types of offenders. You have the guy just going out and buying and consuming what he likes. Individually. So, he’s not building the relationship. He’s not recruiting and doing the grooming. He’s got the pimp—a trafficker is doing that for him. He’s just getting the product on his end.”

Kristin added, “To end trafficking, we need to stop creating the consumers, because the consumers are the ones spending the money that drive this business. We also need to stop the traffickers, who spend time to build a relationship and make this more of a ‘Let’s meet. Let’s go run off’ kind of affair. Some traffickers even hope they have babies as this gives them more girls to exploit. Don’t kid yourselves, this is big business.”

Jason shared, “To build a case against a john, you have to have a willing victim that will “rat them out” or tell their story. Most won’t think of doing that. In our world we think they would want to identify who hurt them but in their world you’re a rat and you’re this or you’re that. From their vantage point, you could get killed for doing it. So, it’s difficult to find girls ready to take that step.”

These girls get caught and they don’t leave. When they aren’t good for them anymore, the john will sometimes call her kind of a joke. Then, the john says ‘Well, you’re not worth much to me but you can do this for me.’ She agrees to stay and recruit because there’s travel, somewhere to stay, and he’s providing her with food and gets her nails done with the other girls.”

“What are They Thinking?” Understanding the Path to Restoration

Kristin shared, “Jud Wilhite, often touted a pastor dedicated to helping the broken, came to Church on the Move. He talked about addiction to things like pornography and drugs. He was trying to describe the way it made people feel. I’m paraphrasing, but he said something like, ‘Sometimes a familiar captivity feels more comfortable than an unfamiliar freedom.’” Kristin continued, “You wonder why these girls would stay when there’s not actual chains wrapped around them and they’re not necessarily chained to their beds. I’m not saying that some aren’t literally chained, but many are not. It’s just these invisible chains that by the time we get to them, they’re used to captivity. They’re used to somebody telling them what to do and telling them how to do it. They get this trauma bond and it becomes their dysfunctional perverted familiarity. They just forgot there was a better way.”

Kristin went on, “The freedom and living in our world is extremely scary to them, but us living in their world is just as scary and dangerous to us. Could you imagine? It’s hard to even go there in your mind. But, to them, this way we live is dangerous. So, at The Demand Project, we’re focusing on the restoration side to help restore them to normal life.”

The Demand Project has a non-residential program. Thanks to a large donation, they are now adding a residential facility in northeastern Oklahoma. Now, they are about to open the largest campus in the United States for minor victims of human trafficking. Kristin said, “We should open that within the next month. That’s where up to 60 minor girls will be able to live and go through restoration process in northeastern Oklahoma.

Kristin shared, “The campus is called Mount Arukah, which is Hebrew for restoration and transformation. The program is called a journey to freedom. It’s a two-year program to go through all of the six areas that we have—mental, physical, spiritual, financial, educational, and legal. Then they graduate once they complete life-skill training.” Kristin added, “We want to help them to be on their feet and stable. We know when you’re going through life, you still need life skills. The recovery can take so long, because you’ve got two different worlds coming together. It is really about trying to unravel the trauma that’s happened to them.”

What can YOU do?

We ask Community Spirit readers to stand in prayer for The Demand Project. They need strength. I could barely write the articles to talk about the things they see and deal with on a regular basis. Trust me, they barely scratched the surface of what they experience—what these young people experience being sold. The Demand Project needs churches, Christians and our community funding their efforts to let them put their focus on what matters most—the restoration and rescue of these minors. They need people who have hearts to understand that these girls didn’t choose this life. And even worse, they are petrified where they stand to try to choose a better one.

Right now, the best way to be involved is to help fund the project. There will be a need for life coaches, counselors, and mentors to step up and take on a role with these victims. They need to see what real love looks like—the kind that Jesus offers that wipes the mistakes as far as the East is from the West. The kind that offers them a new life—what I like to call “Love without strings.”

Reach out to Kristin and Jason Weiss at www.thedemandproject.org or join them at their “Blue Tie Gala” March 27th at the Silo Event Center in west Tulsa to become an active participant and donor to their efforts. On their website, you can also sponsor a survivor with the Victim Advocate Support Team (VAST). There are many ways to help.

Women and Men—Stop Creating the Demand

Jason continued, “Pornography is definitely a factor. There has been such a huge cultural shift in the last 30 years to where the walls are being re-defined. Males have to be more feminine and females more masculine. We’re losing our roles. Then, you’re stuck at 17 years old and are in 40 to 50-year old bodies and have no purpose.”

Jason said, “I think when men don’t have a purpose, they get dangerous. They are even more dangerous to kids because they have nothing to lose. They have nothing to wake up for. No reason to contribute anything positive. So, they look for the weak and the vulnerable and the at risk to fulfill whatever in their soul and their spirit needs to be fixed. The men are being emasculated and they turn to pornography to meet what they need.”

Jason communicated, “Everything these days revolves around the device; culturally speaking, people can’t even communicate face to face as well. Fathers are absent. There’s no one to say ‘Son that’s not what you say and that’s not how you do it. Women are a treasure.’ If you don’t have somebody out there giving that direction for these kids, the world is going to teach them something completely different.”

“These guys will offer to coach and teach a child everything. They will offer to be my sex teacher. How many 14-year old’s really know how to do anything? When I confess that, they’re are more than willing to be the teacher.” Beyond this, Jason and Kristen shared that predators will also teach kids which apps to use and how to hide the conversations. The best way to counter this is to have real conversations with our kids. (Check out our Student Impact section for more details on protecting your kids.)