ATEST Joins Allies Pledging Action to Center Survivors in Anti-trafficking Movement

The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) today joined other organizations in pledging action to center survivors in the U.S. anti-trafficking movement. The pledge was presented at the global Freedom from Slavery Forum in the Dominican Republic, where movement leaders have gathered this week under the theme of galvanizing a survivor-centered movement.

The statement was presented along with a report by a working group of lived-experience leaders on harm that has been caused by the movement, with recommendations for change.

The allies statement and link to the survivor report are below.

Allies Statement

May 2023

As allies in the anti-trafficking sector, we embrace the publication of We Name It So We Can Repair It: Rethinking Harm, Accountability, and Repair in the Anti-Trafficking Sector. We acknowledge the courage of the survivors and lived-experience experts who wrote this important report. We acknowledge the months of significant work and deep thinking that went into crafting the report and recommendations. We are grateful to the Working Group members who invested their time, wisdom, and skill to create this report.

We encourage all allies in the sector to read the full report with care, just as we have done.

We consider the report a resource, a rich trove of guidance that we can return to, time and time again for years to come.

We acknowledge the harm that the authors of this report reveal. We commit to making repairs. We commit to work to improve the culture of this sector in the United States. We commit to work to change individual and organizational behavior. As allies, we are listening, we are learning, and we are implementing the concrete recommendations included in the report.

We have taken those recommendations to heart. We recognize that the recommendations focus on the anti-trafficking sector in the United States. We will, as the authors have asked, continue to engage and address these concerns.

As allies, we commit to:

  • Continuing the dialogue: As allies, we will meet quarterly to discuss the issues raised in the report and all that we have learned in our subsequent conversations with lived-experience experts and survivors.
  • Investing in management training for survivors and lived-experience experts: As allies, we will use our power and resources to support management training for our colleagues in the sector.
  • Investing in coaching for survivors and lived-experience experts: As the report points out, survivor leaders need proper support and scaffolding as they work in the sector. We commit to providing coaches and mentors for lived-experience experts and survivors in our communities and organizations.
  • Sharing the report with other allies: We are just a small fraction of the thousands of anti-trafficking organizations across the United States. We commit to promoting the report and its recommendations within the sector and with other relevant actors, such as governmental officials.
  • Handling trauma and vicarious trauma: We acknowledge that this work takes a significant toll on survivors and allies alike. We commit to making our organizations and communities more trauma-informed. We commit to ending the practice of expecting survivors to publicly share their trauma narratives.
  • Employing survivors and lived-experience experts: As allies and leaders in anti-trafficking organizations, we commit to support the employment of survivors and lived-experience experts in paid, full-time positions.
  • Combating structural racism and bias within the anti-trafficking sector: We commit to integrating survivor leadership and growth into our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs.
  • Collaborating with survivors and those with lived experience: We commit to working with survivor leaders to identify inclusive strategies to repair the harm named in the report.

The next steps outlined above constitute just a beginning. We commit to expanding this work to address concerns raised by survivors in the global anti-trafficking movement. We acknowledge that we have a long road ahead of us. We look forward to walking that road beside survivors and those with lived experience, as we listen, learn, repair, and invest.

Allie Gardner, United Way Worldwide

Bukeni Waruzi, Execute Director, Free the Slaves

Catherine R. Chen, CEO, Polaris

Gina Reiss, Chair of Board, Survivor Alliance

Holly Bartling, Director of the Worker Justice and Dignity Fund

Kay Buck, CEO, CAST

Kristen Abrams, The McCain Institute

Mara Vanderslice Kelly, Executive Director, Center to Combat Human Trafficking, United Way Worldwide

Martina Vandenberg, President, The Human Trafficking Legal Center

Narit Gessler, United Way Worldwide

Natasha Dolby, Co-Founder and Board Chair of Freedom Forward

Nick Grono, CEO, the Freedom Fund

Nina Smith, CEO, GoodWeave International

Philippe Sion, Managing Director, Humanity United

Shawn MacDonald, Verité

Terry FitzPatrick

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