If you want to understand human trafficking, you have to ask the real experts – people who have actually lived the experience. That’s the driving force behind the National Survivor Study survey, which is now live. Survivors can participate by clicking here. Survivors who have already completed an eligibility questionnaire should have received an individualized link to the survey. If you completed the questionnaire but have not received a link – or can’t find it – please reach out to LIDS@polarisproject.org.
The idea that survivors of human trafficking must be at the center of any successful efforts to reduce or prevent human trafficking or improve services and supports may seem obvious. But the reality is that survivors are not always consulted about work done that is supposedly in their name. The result is interventions that often do not meet the needs of actual victims or survivors.
By contrast, the National Survivor Study (NSS) includes survivor expertise in every step of the process. Anti human trafficking professionals with lived experience of human trafficking provided input on what questions to ask and how to phrase them. Survivors are leading the outreach process to inform potential respondents about the survey and the majority of focus groups and interviews that support and depth to the online survey were conducted by survivors. The interview formats and questions were developed through a collaborative process with survivors who helped to shape them in a way that both made sense to others with lived experience and recognized the sensitivities and potential for re-traumatization that could follow reliving a painful experience.
To date, there are more than 600 eligible participants who have been screened for the survey, which aims to reach as diverse a population as possible – one that reflects the diversity of those who have experienced trafficking.
The end result will be the largest dataset available on human trafficking survivors that is not simply about survivors, but actually from survivors. This information will provide a picture of survivor experiences and perspectives from different parts of the country, different communities, and give us new insights about the similarities and differences in experiences and priorities among different groups. This information will allow policymakers and others to better collaborate with survivors to plan and implement interventions that actually work to support people as they struggle to protect themselves from trafficking, break free from trafficking situations, and heal and rebuild their lives.
But it only happens if people participate. Once again, if you are interested in participating and have not yet gone through the screening process (which is fast and requires little information) please click here. If you have gone through the screening/eligibility process and do not have the specialized link you need to continue the process, please email LIDS@polarisproject.org.