Survivors Host Anti-Trafficking Day at Maine State House for First Time in Event's History

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Survivors Host Anti-Trafficking Day at Maine State House for First Time in Event’s History

Contact:
Dee Clarke, Executive Director, Survivor Speak USA
(207) 408-1778, deeclarke@survivorspeakusa.org

AUGUSTA, ME (January 7, 2019) – January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and on January 10th survivors of human trafficking and their allies will convene at the Maine State House Hall of Flags to call for an end to trafficking down to the Last Girl, so there are no new generations of Forgotten Women.

• When: Thursday January 10, 2019 start at 9 am, speakers at 10 am
• Where: Maine State House Hall of Flags, Augusta

This year’s annual Anti-Trafficking Awareness Day will ask the important question, “How do we create a Maine where survivors can thrive?”

Anti-Trafficking Awareness Day will focus on the importance of aftercare for survivors who have escaped a life of sex and labor trafficking and exploitation. Even after escape, survivors still navigate the enduring impacts and repercussions of their experiences—on their physical and mental health, economic opportunities, and families. The day will draw attention to the myriad of policy interventions, resources, and services that survivors need in order to forge a new pathway in life, beyond exploitation. One focal point will be on a legislative action to win vacatur of criminal convictions for survivors.

“Survivors are leading the way,” said Dee Clarke, Executive Director of Survivor Speak USA. “This is the first year that the Annual Anti-Trafficking Awareness Day is led and organized by survivors of trafficking.”

Survivor Speak USA believes in putting the Last Girl first. Black and Brown survivors are often misidentified as criminals or willing participants, not trafficking victims. Black and Brown girls are more likely to grow up in poverty than white peers, meaning less social support and connections to schools and resources that could keep them safe from exploiters. Putting the Last Girl first means addressing the lives of Black, Brown, and Indigenous girls and women first. SSUSA believes when Women of Color survivors thrive, everyone will.

In this spirit, a wide range of ally organizations will be present at Anti-Trafficking Awareness Day to call attention to the impact of human trafficking on Main’s most vulnerable women and girls. “Native women and girls continue to be further exploited through gender-based violence ranging from the high rates of sex trafficking and MMIWG (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls). This should not just be an indigenous issue. This should be an issue of concern for all Americans,” said Donna Brown of the Wabanaki Women’s Coalition.

Vacatur is one aftercare policy solution for survivors that will be highlighted at this year’s event. The legislature will consider an action this session that will allow victims freedom and a path forward. “What vacatur will mean to me is that I'll be confident enough to go back to school and to find a job and not worry about anything. Also, to be able to go on my son’s field trip and feel comfortable. I will feel like a human being again. And not have to worry about any hindrance in my life,” said Tiara Ross, Advocacy Coordinator for Survivor Speak USA.

The day will kick off at 9 am with an invitation to visit tables and learn from a range of organizations working to end sex and labor trafficking & exploitation in Maine, as well as providing services to survivors. At 10 am, hear survivors, providers, and allies speak on the topic of how we can create a Maine where survivors heal, thrive, and lead.

Follow the day online: Follow Survivor Speak USA and the hashtag #VacaturIsFreedom on Facebook & Twitter to see live video & updates. You can also join the conversation by using the hashtag.

Survivor Speak USA (SSUSA) is an organization focused on ending sex trafficking and sexual exploitation through centering the experiences, voices, and leadership of survivors. SSUSA works at the roots of misogynistic demand and the inter-generational poverty and systemic racism that feed it. We want to eliminate the false dichotomy of 'good victims' and 'criminals'; there are no criminals, only survivors. We are an emerging movement turning the public conversation away from stigma and toward healing, changing the laws to honor our dignity, and shifting power to survivors. You can learn more by visiting www.survivorspeakusa.org.

Save The Date: Annual Anti-Trafficking Awareness Day @ the State House

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This year Survivor Speak USA is proud to host the annual Anti-Trafficking Day at the Maine State House. The day will focus on reflecting & responding to the question: How do we create a Maine where survivors can thrive? 

When: Thursday, January 10th, 2019 @ 9 am-12 pm

Where: Hall of Flags @ Maine State House, Augusta


This year’s program will focus broadly on ‘aftercare’ for survivors who have escaped a life of trafficking and sexual exploitation, but still navigate the enduring impacts and repercussions of their experiences—on their physical and mental health, economic opportunities, and families. We seek to draw attention to the myriad policy interventions, resources, and services that survivors need in order to forge a new pathway in life, beyond exploitation.

SSUSA speakers will focus on our bill to win vacatur—post-conviction relief—for survivors of trafficking & sexploitation, and why #VacaturIsFreedom for survivors.

Program Schedule
• From 9:00 until noon: Visit tables and learn from a range of organizations working to end sex trafficking & sexual exploitation in Maine, as well as provide services to survivors. 
• At 10 am: Hear survivors, providers, and allies speak on the topic of how we can create a Maine where survivors heal, thrive, and lead. 
Online: If you can’t be there in person, be sure to follow Survivor Speak USA on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #VacaturIsFreedom to see live video & updates. You can also join the conversation using the hashtag.

Contact Executive Director Dee Clarke with questions @ deeclarke@survivorspeakusa.org.

Printing Our Way To Vacatur!

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This summer, SSUSA Executive Director Dee Clarke was awarded a Printers Without Margins Fellowship by Pickwick Independent Press. The fellowship provided an opportunity for fellows to collaborate with a Pickwick artist to create a design on a postcard or broadside expressing something important about their organization or artistry, and to create 100 copies. Dee chose to create postcards to engage supporters and legislators around SSUSA’s campaign to win vacatur for Maine survivors of sex trafficking and sexploitation.

As Dee shares: For the last 3 years, SSUSA has expressed the need for vacatur, only to be met with pushback. For 3 years we have been told it is unconstitutional, because we already have a law in place: pardoning. Pardoning is more about forgiveness, and vacatur is an admission that the survivor did not commit a crime, and therefore that conviction/charge becomes null, nonexistent and wiped out.

Dee was paired up with Pickwick Director Pilar Nidal and also invited SALT members to join in the collaborative process of making a compelling piece of art that would also be used to communicate the importance of vacatur to legislators and spread the word about the campaign in the 2019 legislative session.

Dee explains the process this way: Several survivors and myself first met with our instructor to educate her on who we are, about sex trafficking and sexploitation, what vacatur is, and what it means to us and why it’s necessary, which led into the artistic phase, planning and designing. I saw a new freedom amongst my friends. All while sitting together pitching ideas of what our post cards would look like, sketching various designs and figuring out the right word choices and explaining what’s wrong with other words.


The design of justice scales conveys how much more weight vacatur carries in improving the lives of survivors, by reducing stigma and removing practical barriers for survivors to housing, jobs, and involvement with their children’s lives. SSUSA sees vacatur as a powerful intervention in the lives of Maine’s Forgotten Women, which will also help survivors break cycles of poverty, violence, and exploitation so their children do not become more Last Girls.

Reflecting on her experience in the fellowship, Dee said: I especially appreciate the commitment from our instructor in that she was down with other survivors taking part. We created art together, but also many layers of social oppression of who we are peeled away during the collaboration. Thank you for that!!!!

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