Written by: Katie Linn | Previous Executive Director of Exploit No More
Conversations about sex trafficking – whether they be a few minutes or a few hours presentation – often leave people with a sense of hopelessness and despair. With so much information to absorb, it can be difficult to move past the darkness to see the hope and light for survivors of trafficking. Women and men who are recovered and escape from the life have a long journey of healing and restoration that will continue long into their lives. However as many walk the path to becoming healthy again, they find that their passions now lie with helping others who have been victimized and exploited. Their stories provide the hope, light, and inspiration that is needed in order to see how these incredible women are being restored.
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and for this month, we will be highlighting a few of the stories of hope from survivors around the United States. These profiles are of well-known survivors who are working in the United States to support victims and survivors in their own cities and nation-wide. Please check out their organizations and ministries to learn more about how they work daily to end human trafficking.
Allies Against Slavery and Survivor Healing and Empowerment (S.H.E.)
Brooke Axtell became the face of a survivor of domestic violence at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, where she performed a piece of spoken word that she had written about her own experience. While Brooke’s performance has been viewed and shared by thousands since the Grammy’s, her advocacy work began prior to that after she escaped the abusive relationship she found herself in.
Brooke, also a survivor of child domestic sex trafficking at the age of seven years old, lives and works in Texas with Allies Against Slavery as their Director of Communications, as well as founded a healing community specifically for sex trafficking and sexual abuse survivors called Survivor Healings and Empowerment (S.H.E.).
She speaks across the nation about domestic sex trafficking, sharing her story and her poems to spread awareness and grow passion in others. The staff of Exploit No More had the opportunity to meet and talk with Brooke in 2015 as she recently spoke to students at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Brooke Axtell is just one of hundreds of survivor advocates working to use her own experiences in order to help others in their healing journey. Exploit No More has been blessed to have a number of survivors in the Milwaukee community who share this same desire. While the healing journey continues, our survivor advocates and volunteers have reached the point in their journey that they have a passion to help other girls and women who have been victimized and exploited. Without survivor-led mentorship and leadership in the fight to end sex trafficking, organizations are at a huge disadvantage and leave the survivors they are attempting to help at a loss. Survivors who have a passion to help others who were victimized provide a space for understanding, vulnerability in sharing stories, and healing.