About Dee Clarke, Survivor and Founder of Survivor Speak
For more than 16 years, Dee Clarke has been organizing, educating and empowering adults and youth to speak out for public policy that affects their lives. She has organized groups to march, demonstrate, collaborate, dialogue, create, to have and give voice, and to be at the table of decision-makers. Dee is known for her diplomacy and grace, from meeting with governors and legislators to interacting directly with sex-trafficked and exploited women.
Dee comes by her wisdom from experience. She grew up in a severely abusive environment in a Boston housing project, in and out of foster care from age 5 to 8. At age 12 she was sex trafficked by a pimp and finished growing up in the combat zone as a go-go dancer and stripper. As a young mother, she sometimes ended up homeless and in shelters for several months, while working several jobs and relying on soup kitchens, food stamps and food boxes.
"I know this life inside out. I know what it is to not have a sense of self, to not know I matter, to not know comfort. I know what it is like to be unable to say, ‘no, leave me alone’. I know what it is like to not have a plan for a better life; I did not know what a better life was. I have experienced PTSD, dissociation, poverty, and exploitation. I was a survivor longer than I was not and a victim long before a pimp got to me at age 12. I know how stereotyping fosters self-oppression and exclusion."
Dee recently founded the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Survivor Speak, to provide education, advocacy and mentoring for exploited and sex trafficked survivors by establishing a certified survivor leadership program. To that end, she is working with survivors to educate local communities, providers of care, and policy makers in understanding the complex effects of exploitation. Dee has collaborated with various agencies to create her mentee leadership program as well as treatment workshops for providers of care and survivor clients. Details of her non-profit work and requests for speaker engagements can be found at www.survivorspeak.org
Dee is also a consultant for Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Preble Street Anti Sex Trafficking Coalition, and has many community partners with whom she works to assist women and youth out of sex trafficking, including The Salvation Army, Family Crisis, Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine (SARSSM), Hope Rising (a residential treatment program for survivors of human trafficking), various faith based organizations, and local, state, and national law enforcement. She continues to do direct outreach with exploited women and youth in collaboration with these partners.
Some of Dee’s advocacy and community engagements include the following:
- 2000 Advocate with Consumer Advocacy Project, now called Homeless Voices for Justice (HVJ). Dee was a major leader in bringing awareness to hate crimes against homeless people.
- 2001 Created Portland Organization to Win Economic Rights (POWER) organizing with USM and the community to ask a rent freeze.
- 2002 Keynote Speaker for Justice of the Face of Globalization: Implications for Criminal, Social and Restorative Justice.
- 2003 Joined AmeriCorps Vista to assist in organizing restorative justice teams for youth in Bath and Brunswick, Maine.
- 2005 Created WELLness for women who were using local homeless shelters; bringing them life enrichment and lifelong learning skills.
- 2009 Joined Glenn Close and Speaker of the Maine House of Reps, Jill Saxby in the public service video about women and homelessness.
- 2012 Briefed the Maine State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights about the issue of human trafficking in Maine to better educate Congress.
- 2013 Consultant to Preble Street Anti Trafficking Coalition (PSATC) and peer support for newly discovered trafficked youth and women who were clients to PSATC.
- 2013 Joined Portland Salvation Army in Street Out Reach to women presently exploited “on the track” in Portland, Maine where sex buyers cruise looking to purchase sex.
- 2013 Co-created Portland’s, The WELL with Salvation Army to bring community building life enrichment activities to exploited women.
- 2014 Speaker for session, “Women and Poverty”, The New England Women’s Policy meeting.
- 2015 Speaker Hall of Flags with Senator Amy Volk at State House Augusta, Maine when Governor LePage declared January 25th as Human Trafficking Awareness Week.
- 2015 Speaker for Justice for Women’s annual program about anti sex trafficking efforts and introduction of keynote speaker, activist, Ruchira Guptna.
- 2015 Created Survivor Speak, nonprofit organization to provide education, advocacy and mentoring for exploited and sex trafficked women and the communities that serve them, in order to ensure sustainable, positive changes.
- 2015 Testified before the National Commission on Hunger.
- 2015 Organized survivors of sex trafficking to have a voice in the Maine Human Trafficking Needs Assessment produced by Hornby Zeller Associates, Inc. for the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
- 2015 Speaker at the “Dress Up to Drive Out Human Trafficking” event hosted for Nineteen Rotary clubs from Maine and New Hampshire.
- 2015 Speaker at Governor’s Summit on Human Trafficking hosted by Not Here Justice in Action Network. Advocated for housing vouchers, healthcare and vocational rehabilitation services for women and youth who’ve been sexually exploited.
- 2016 Speaker at the 2016 anniversary of Maine’s Proclamation calling January Anti- trafficking month. Survivor Speak advocated for expungement of prostitution charges.
- 2016 Panel speaker at Bowdoin College; bringing awareness of sex trafficking and exploitation in Maine to the Brunswick community