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Responding to Sound of Freedom: Hollywood Needs to Center Survivors and Their Voices

Survivors of human trafficking should be the main character of any human trafficking story, not a supporting actor. We must trust survivors, listen to their stories, and center both. 

Named after the North Star, an historical symbol of freedom, Polaris leads a survivor-centered, data-informed, and justice and equity-driven movement to end human trafficking. Since 2007, Polaris has operated the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline, connecting victims and survivors to support and services, and helping communities hold traffickers accountable. 

Eliminating human trafficking is a challenge that requires support from all corners of the world, and we welcome everyone who wishes to join the movement. The film Sound of Freedom is a Hollywood depiction based on one person’s stories. It should be seen as exactly that — not a comprehensive view of human trafficking nor a model of how to best end human trafficking. There are many additional perspectives and stories that complete the picture. Polaris has spent two decades listening to survivors. The knowledge that has been shared with us comes from many communities and individuals who are impacted differently, and it is their lived experiences that inform Polaris’s work.

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Through our work, Polaris has built the largest known dataset on human trafficking in North America. The data and expertise gained from two decades of working on trafficking situations in real-time helps us to partner with service providers and law enforcement; support survivors on their healing journeys; and address the vulnerabilities that enable the business of stealing freedom for profit.  

Polaris continues to believe that the true heroes in the anti-trafficking movement have been and will always be survivors of sex and labor trafficking. We think the focus of the movement should remain on those with lived experience

Polaris’s first priority is to listen to victims and survivors, act based on their recommendations and expertise, and support their empowerment and paths to freedom. While not everyone uses this approach, we know it to be the only approach that provides survivors the support they need, keeps them safe, and truly works towards ending human trafficking.

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Need help? Polaris operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline.