4 Stars — Powerful

The evil of manipulating and coercing children and teenagers into prostitution is appalling. Known as human trafficking, we often assume this occurs primarily in developing countries and only rarely in nations like the United States. But we are wrong to make such an assumption. In Plain Sight is a documentary directed by Noah Lamberth and David Trotter depicting what is actually happening in such cities as Nashville, Dallas and Houston.

Without commentary, this documentary allows those involved in this horrific experience to speak for themselves. The testimonies of the women who were abused in their homes only to run away and become enslaved to a pimp are not only enlightening but also emotionally powerful. We hear woman after woman explain how she was manipulated and groomed by her pimp until she was physically threatened and beaten in a dehumanizing process.

Woven throughout these first-person accounts, Lamberth and Trotter bring in the people who are trying to free these girls from this hell. From police officers to FBI agents, from pastors to counselors, from former trafficked women who are now helping others get free, to wealthy women who used their resources to create safe houses where healing and new lives could begin, we look at this complex problem from all sides.

For a moment, we even hear from the darkened inside of a car the empty words of a man whose addiction to sex is financing the pimps’ enslavement of these victimized women.

The film also explains the relationship between pornography addiction and acting on the addiction by buying and selling masochistic and sadistic sex.

Although it is clear that the safe homes and recovery ministries are motivated by the compassion of Christians, the film reveals how everyone is becoming aware of the slavery of vulnerable young women and how we as a nation can make changes so this modern slavery can be greatly impeded if not stopped. Working to stop sexual slavery is something that all people of good will can work together to accomplish.


» The all-too-common experience of being abused as children is horrendous in itself. That there are people who take advantage of these vulnerable young women when they flee from their homes only multiplies the abuse. Healing both of these traumas requires not only safe homes that become their new families but also professional counseling and spiritual guidance. If that is true, what part of this multilayered solution can you help to provide?

» If pornography creates a sexual addiction that then progresses to the addicted acting on their desires by paying the pimps to provide a person they have enslaved, then what can we do to stop the foundation of this crime? Do you believe pornography should be protected by free speech? Why or why not?

» When these ministries are exposed as they are in this film and people’s real names are used, do you think that makes their ministries vulnerable to retaliation? Why do you answer as you do?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.