An Open Letter to Sex Trafficking Survivors

Dear Survivor,

Yes, you,

Right now, we are watching our country come alive with awareness for human trafficking. We are watching posts go viral. We are watching survivor voices amplified. We are watching people finally beginning to open their eyes to the horror and degradation that we have survived.

These are all great things. Awareness is important. People being spurred to action is important. Our nation waking up to this atrocity is important.

But I want you to know a few things:

  1. It is okay if you do not want to out yourself as a sex trafficking survivor. No one is entitled to your story. You do not have to jump into any of this with your voice as a survivor. Your silence is not your shame. You are in control of who, when, and how you tell your story. If this is not the time for you, that is perfectly okay.

  2. It is okay if you choose this moment to share your story. You have a valuable voice in this discussion. Your thoughts, opinions, and experience matter. If watching people rally together makes you feel ready to share, you have every right to do so.

  3. It is okay if you choose only to share posts written by others instead of sharing your own thoughts. There are a lot of great posts circulating right now. There are other survivors who are doing an excellent job of articulating what needs to be said. If you are amplifying their voices, you are doing your part and that is enough.

  4. It is okay if you choose not to post at all or even to stay away from social media during this time. Advocacy for survivors includes you. If it is best for you to stay away from the constant reminders, the graphic stories, and the misinformation, you are fully allowed to do that. If it distresses you to see some of the things being shared, you are allowed to walk away from them. If you are taking care of yourself, you are doing your part and that is enough.

  5. It is okay if seeing these things are bringing up old anxieties, triggers, or trauma responses. You are not failing as a survivor. You are not backsliding. These feelings are valid and really common, too. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, too, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Make sure you're taking the time for self care and thinking/talking about what kind of involvement in this is best for you.

You are welcome to get involved, to educate, to advocate, but you are not required to. It is okay to do what is best for you. It is okay to change your mind on what's best, too.

You are surviving, sweet friend, and that's enough. Please keep doing what you have to to continue down that path.

I'm rooting for you.