The Evolution of Victim to Leader: Human Trafficking Survivors in the Anti-Trafficking Movement


Jacquelyn C.A. Meshelemiah, BSSW, MSW, LSW, PhD & Raven E. Lynch, MSW | September 19 | 10:15-11:15 AM

Topic: Research | Knowledge Level: Intermediate | Location: TBD

Researchers at The Ohio State University interviewed 25 survivors of sex trafficking in the Central Ohio area in an effort to understand their trajectory into leadership roles in the anti-trafficking movement. The interviews were recorded and analyzed for themes related to three conceptual aims: 1) examining the transition of sex trafficking victims to survivors; 2) examining the transition of sex-trafficked women from survivors to leadership roles; and 3) assessing sex trafficking survivors’ perceptions of leadership. Themes that emerged included: adverse childhood experiences, drugs, forced prostitution, incarceration, and treatment for Aim 1; outreach, public speaking, and peer mentoring for Aim 2; and honesty, strength, open-mindedness, and role modeling for Aim 3. This is one of the first studies to examine leadership in the anti-trafficking movement at the survivor level. The findings are in line with, and highlight the importance of, the Survivor Leadership Model’s five components: a trauma-informed approach; input and direction from survivors; adequate resource allocation by the organization’s upper management; empowerment of the survivor; and post-graduation support (Family and Youth Services Bureau, 2015). This presentation will include: defining leadership; examining the evolution of trafficking victims to survivors; and understanding leadership from the perspective of an anti-trafficking activist who is also a survivor.

Presentation Objectives:

·  Define leadership and explore the Survivor Leadership model

·  Examine the evolution of trafficking victims to survivors

·  Understand leadership from the perspective of an anti-trafficking activist who is also a survivor

About the Presenters