TERMINOLOGY As noted in the 2021 report of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking (the Council), there are myriad terms survivors use to identify themselves. While some individuals who have experienced trafficking choose to embrace the title “survivor,” others do not. Terminology regarding human trafficking varies based on a country’s respective laws and language(s). The word “survivor” is not generally defined by law, nor is it universally used or accepted in the context of human trafficking. In some countries, “survivor” may refer to those who have experienced historical, collective, or cultural trauma.
Within the United States, there are some widely used terms for individuals who have experienced human trafficking and subsequently decided to engage in anti-trafficking related work on a professional level. Individuals may prefer to be referred to as “survivor leaders,” “survivor advocates,” or “subject matter experts with lived experience of human trafficking.” Some may have other titles or prefer not to identify based on this experience at all.
In recognizing individuals’ full life experiences, skill sets, and professional goals, it is important to always ask someone how they want to be identified. Policymakers and stakeholders should not assume that someone who identifies as a “survivor leader,” “survivor advocate,” or “expert with lived experience of human trafficking” should be referred to as such in a professional setting or that identification as a survivor leader makes it acceptable to inquire about someone’s personal experience with human trafficking.
For simplicity and consistency, the terms “survivor” and “survivor leader” are often used as well as the following:
Victim: In the United States, the term “victim” means a person who has suffered direct physical, emotional, or pecuniary harm as a result of the commission of a crime. As in the United States, in some other countries “victims” are expressly afforded certain rights and services to assist during and in the aftermath of the commission of that crime. For these reasons, country narratives still make extensive use of this term. Adopting survivor and trauma-informed approaches should not conflict or compete with the provision of assistance entitled to victims
Victim-centered approach: Stakeholders place the crime victim’s priorities, needs, and interests at the center of their work with the victim; providing nonjudgmental assistance, with an emphasis on self-determination, and assisting victims in making informed choices; ensuring restoration of victims’ feelings of safety and security are a priority; and safeguarding against policies and practices that may inadvertently re-traumatize victims. A victim-centered approach should also incorporate a trauma-informed, survivor-informed, and culturally competent approach.
Survivor-informed approach: A program, policy, intervention, or product that is designed, implemented, and evaluated with intentional leadership, expertise, and input from a diverse community of survivors to ensure that the program, policy, intervention, or product accurately represents their needs, interests, and perceptions.
Trauma-informed approach: A trauma-informed approach recognizes signs of trauma in individuals and the professionals who help them and responds by integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, practices, and settings and by seeking to actively resist re-traumatization. This approach includes an understanding of the vulnerabilities and experiences of trauma survivors, including the prevalence and physical, social, and emotional impact of trauma. A trauma-informed approach places priority on restoring the survivor’s feelings of safety, choice, and control. Programs, services, agencies, and communities can be trauma-informed.
Culturally competent approach: Cultural and linguistic competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations. ‘Culture’ refers to integrated patterns of human behavior that include the language, thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of racial, ethnic, religious, or social groups. ‘Competence’ implies having the capacity to function effectively as an individual and an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by consumers and their communities.
Which approach does SAFEE use? SAFEE encompasses all the above approaches; this allows the Survivors we work with the best holistic approach to insure a brighter focused future with lifetime assistance when needed. Results from trauma don't disappear once someone gets a little help, sometimes the best option is to switch approaches and SAFEE is there to help with a smooth transition, not only between approaches but, back into becoming an integral part of their community with a wider reaching support group such as family and friends.