Rethinking Survivor Leadership

Many of the norms around “survivor leadership” in the anti-human trafficking sector were developed by people who do not have lived experience, and some of them rely on outdated norms or biased assumptions about survivors’ capability. These norms sometimes create the expectation that survivors will want to fit into the box of Survivor Leadership (TM), or can cause harm to survivors hoping to engage in leadership.

We have to ask ourselves: Do we want to empower “Survivor Leadership (TM)” or are we hoping to foster meaningful movement leadership by people with lived experience of human trafficking? How is being an excellent service provider to survivors of trafficking different from being an excellent colleague to survivors of trafficking? How can we transform our movement into one that meaningful survivor engagement thrives in?

This training from the National Survivor Network explores these questions as well as practical tips and solutions for survivors, our allies, and organizations leading the effort to end human trafficking.