On September 25, 2012 President Obama spoke directly to victims/survivors of trafficking in his speech at the Clinton Global Initiative. The President said, “We see you. We hear you. We insist on your dignity. And we share your belief that if just given the chance, you will forge a life equal to your talents and worthy of your dreams.”
I believe that about myself and my sisters who are survivors of trafficking. If given the chance, we will succeed in creating a life equal to our dreams. We are multifaceted, creative, critical thinkers with tremendous skills, knowledge and problem solving abilities. Agencies, nonprofits, faith-based organizations and the media all recognize we have a story; and often want to include the survivor voice, story and perspective. However, we are more than our stories. Survivor Speak’s goal is to assist survivors, the public, agencies, non-profits, and law enforcement in recognizing that survivors would create a life that matches their talents “if given the chance”.
Survivors need a path to explore their dreams and, if desired, become leaders in the anti-trafficking movement. Our voices should be at the table of decision makers who create policies both public and private, that support anti-trafficking work. Survivors who desire to be survivor advocates need to be prepared to assist in purposeful planning, sharing ideas, and advocacy that is timely; for today. It is Survivor Speak’s goal to encourage, support and enable survivors to be prepared and knowledgeable about these needs, to understand the gaps and barriers to success, and to be aware of coalitions, agencies, and all decision makers who can help survivors play a key role in leading the anti-trafficking movement.
Currently, Survivor Speak is seeking collaborative groups to aid in a unified approach to mentoring survivors in leadership skills. It is our intention to create a mentoring program which provides stipends for survivors to participate in all aspects of Survivor Speak’s mission, including advocating for treatment and policy changes as needed, providing public awareness, co-facilitating Survivor Speak educational programs, working with law enforcement providers, and mentoring survivors recently out of the life. Our goal is to create a network of survivor leaders, knowledgeable about the current state of sex trafficking culture and policies, readily equipped to educate, advocate and mentor others, and become a valuable resource to organizations and policy makers. This network will also provide a place for survivor collaboration on projects, and for mutual support.