Written by Brooke Axtell, Dir. of Communications & Survivor Support
Last month, I hosted a Survivor Leader retreat with the Survivor Support Team at Allies Against Slavery. We welcomed ten survivors of human trafficking to an inspiring weekend of creative expression and healing community. Through writing, art, discussions and workshops we explored three primary themes: reclaiming our self-worth, cultivating healthy intimacy and honoring our voices. We also discussed the relationship between living with self-compassion and making a sustainable contribution to the movement to end human trafficking. Each woman shared her gifts, passions, strengths and struggles within this sacred space. It was an honor to bear witness to their healing path. I call them Beautiful Warriors because they are radiant with love and fierce with courage.
In the anti-trafficking movement, I often hear that we need to "be a voice for the voiceless." I disagree. Survivors have their own voices. The question is: Are we willing to listen? So, instead of telling you what I believe to be the ultimate impact and value of our retreat, I asked my sisters if they would share their own experience. Here is what they said.
Each of these brave women has not only overcome the trauma of human trafficking, they are devoted to sharing their voices to help others heal and find freedom. They are not just survivors. They are leaders, artists and catalysts for social change.
At Allies Against Slavery, we recognize both the inherent value and unique expertise of those we support. As we continue to develop holistic solutions to human trafficking through the Slave-Free City Network, we invite Survivor Leaders to help guide the way. They are the heartbeat of the movement and must be central to our work for lasting justice. Through our Survivor Leadership Program, we are not only providing support, we are listening to the wisdom of these resilient, brilliant women who are already transforming the world. I hope you will join us.
In Love and Freedom,
Director of Communications + Survivor Support