Written by Brooke Axtell, Dir. of Communications & Engagement
I recently had the opportunity to speak at the Grammy Awards. A few weeks after this, I called into a recovery group for survivors of domestic minor sex-trafficking in Miami. The girls asked me questions about about my own recovery. One teen girl shared, “I really related to your speech.”
“What part resonated with you the most?” I asked.
“The part when you said I am worthy of love,” she replied.
Later that night, I received a photograph of a journal entry she wrote in response to our conversation. She said, “As I learned tonight, it’s very important to have hope. It’s important to have someone, anyone that cares….I learned tonight that I am worth something and that I am made for greatness.”
This is why I continue my work as an advocate with deep gratitude and hope. In the face of such darkness, I see survivors rise up with the knowledge of their worth and it is magnificent.
Another teen survivor of sex-trafficking asked me, “After everything you went through as a child, how can you still have hope? How did you get to where you are?”
How could I tell her the truth? How could I tell her this path is brutal and beautiful beyond measure? I confessed, “The healing path is difficult, but you are worth fighting for. Never give up. Be patient with yourself. Reach out for the help you need. Surround yourself with people who see how valuable you are and will remind you of the truth when you can’t believe it for yourself.”
One of the greatest challenges of experiencing human trafficking is the sense of isolation. It is essential for survivors to see they are not alone. When I came to my first Allies Against Slavery meeting, I was deeply encouraged to find a community of freedom fighters channeling their empathy and passion for justice into tangible action. Allies gave me hope because they were not just devoted to helping survivors, but systemically addressing the root causes that make people vulnerable to exploitation.
I continue to stand with Allies because love has made this community bold. It is audacious to dream of a world free from slavery.
Why do we continue to choose the boldness of love after this world continues to break our hearts? Because love is who we are. I believe in the undeniable dignity and value of each human being, particularly those who have been oppressed, abused, exploited and treated as if they are worthless.
At Allies, we talk about making Austin a Slave-Free City: a city where traffickers cannot exploit the vulnerable and survivors receive all the care they need to truly heal. We envision Austin one day becoming a city of refuge and restoration. What we create here we plan share with cities across the U.S.
Here are a few practical ways we’ve offered help through our Survivor Support Programs:
- In 2014, Allies provided essential items for survivors of human trafficking and their family members. We served over 100 individuals to ensure they have everything they need to create a new life. Often survivors have no financial resources or material belongings after their experience of exploitation. These items help them start over and let them know we care about their future.
- In the first quarter of 2015, we have offered short-term mentoring and referrals for more than 20 survivors of sex-trafficking. This includes support for career development, education, creative expression as well as advice on where to find the best resources for therapy, social services and legal counsel.
- With your help, we hope to expand our Survivor Support Programs to include long-term mentoring, career planning and additional educational resources.
I invite you to join me in becoming a Sustaining Allies Member, so you can help survivors discover their inherent worth and live with dignity.
I want you to be a part of this story of healing and freedom. I want you to spread this message around the world: survivors of human trafficking are worth fighting for. Your contributions will help one more person leave behind the horrific violence of slavery and enter the liberation of love.
In Love and Freedom,