Ethical Practices for Survivor Hiring, Consultancy, & Media Engagement


On Monday, March 28th, Safe House Project hosted an Ethical Survivor Hiring, Consultancy, and Media Practices webinar where we discussed these topics with three industry experts:

  • Dr. Elizabeth Bowman, PhD, LICSW, LCSW-C, Executive Director/Founder of Restoring Ivy Collective, Assistant Professor at Gallaudet University, and DMST survivor

  • Audrey Morrisey, Associate Director of My Life My Choice

  • Maria Contreras, Senior Program Associate of the Collaborative Responses to Commercial Sexual Exploitation Initiative at the National Center for Youth Law

During the course of their conversation, they covered the following topics, answering these questions and discussing the importance of ethical practices when working with survivors of human trafficking.

  1. What would you say are the current barriers to ethical practices as it relates to engaging those with lived experience?

  2. How do you gauge ethical practices for evaluating lived experience experts’ readiness for work in anti-trafficking and screening pre-hire?

  3. What does it look like for each of you to provide equity in the anti-trafficking space for survivors of all demographics and experiences?

  4. What ethical practice have you created within your organizations and workplaces to ensure you have trauma-informed, empowerment-based culture for the lived experience experts you work with?

  5. How do you encourage and support lived experience autonomy in work-related self-disclosure?

  6. What methods do you use to determine appropriate compensation for lived experience experts?


With their combined experience as industry experts, these incredible women outline their experiences working in the field and their top recommendations based on those experiences. To hear their answers to the above questions and compare them to your own answers, check out the webinar here.


Additional recommendations from the department of state on Including Survivors in Decision-Making and Addressing Barriers to Survivor Inclusion and Leadership

  • Give survivors the opportunity to continuously identify areas for professional development.
  • Offer academic scholarships for continuing education and fund opportunities for professional development, leadership training, and networking so survivors can build the experience necessary to get a job or leadership position in the field of their choice.
  • Ask individuals how they want to be introduced; do not automatically introduce someone as a survivor of trafficking. This empowers those who have experienced exploitation to identify in a manner they choose. Understand that this may change over their lifetime. Treat them as more than the traumas they experienced and foster their strengths. Many survivor leaders want to be valued as professionals separate from their lived experience.
  • Always compensate survivors for their time, expertise, and contributions in a timely manner, whether they are participating in a focus group or providing consultant services.
  • Continuously and appropriately access survivor expertise at all appropriate stages throughout program development, implementation, and evaluation.
  • Create opportunities to elevate expertise from survivor leaders in a variety of ways (i.e., panel discussions, report writing, etc.). Have them participate in the design of the engagement.
  • Be as transparent as possible to foster trust and build genuine collaboration with survivor leaders. Outline clear goals, expectations, and timelines for survivor input on projects—and be clear about the ways in which their expertise is intended to be and has been utilized in shaping approaches.

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