is sex work the same as sex trafficking?

No.

Sex work is a consensual act between two adults. It is work, and it deserves respect and un-biased support. Un-biased support begins by learning more. We can do this through active study and through listening to sex workers who have blogs, instagrams, and other forms of social media. With emphasis on POC, Indigenous, Trans, LGBTQ+, Disabled, Fat, and other marginalized sex workers.

The “easy” definition of sex trafficking is a non-consensual act where one individual (the “Victim”) is sold to another individual (the “John”) by another individual (the “Pimp” or “Perpetrator”) for sexual acts. There are two main types of trafficking: Human Trafficking and Sex Trafficking. Both branch out into different definitions and experiences. Learn more and learn what is being done through three organizations I am privileged to personally know and partner with here, here, and here.
 

Is my trauma big enough to be labelled as “Trauma”?

Your truth is true, because it is yours. If labelling it as “trauma” is honouring, I believe it. If not labelling at all is honouring, I respect it. All parts, pieces, and spaces of your truth are safe to exist here as they do in you. As they shift, change, mangle, untie, loosen, and release over time. As they grow louder, become softer, exist in new ways, your truth will not be questioned.

To me, “trauma” is simply that there was once an experience, whether known or unknown, that now rest within our body, mind, and soul in complex and individualistic ways post-event. We are not healing from the event, we are healing from the trauma that lies in us afterwards.

Our mind, body, and soul can never move out of survival if we do not hold some form of safety. This is both assuring and agonizing, I know. Many never get to that point. They never hold the resources or “option” to feel because they are demanded to survive. They are forced to remain in one-or-more cycles of abuse/racism/segregation/marginalization. Moving from one trauma to another, on constant loop, without the ability and resource to change that.

We can never truly question why someone doesn’t “Just leave,” or why someone uses that socially-demonized “X” to cope. Residual impacts turn into coping mechanisms, and without safety or resource to be modified, pile up. Forcing individuals to obtain methods of any kind to survive and endure, in any way they are able. It’s valid. Survival is valid. Nevertheless, survival erodes us.

I am sorry for how you have been demanded to endure whatever it is you know. You are undoubted.
 

what is a residual impact?

When/if we have the privilege to heal, we are not healing from the experience or acts of trauma. We are healing from the impacts of them. Our emotional responses that were never felt due to the demand to survive; and not only survive but continue to. Due to the injustices in our systems, carrying the burdens of the act/s done has become the demand/expectation instead.

Some residual impacts manifest mentally.

Some residual impacts manifest emotionally.

Some residual impacts manifest physically.

All. Are. Real.

All. Are. Valid.

All. Are. Worthy. Of. Belief.

Healing that occurs within us allows us to separate ourselves from the experience or act/s of trauma, and begin to believe what the experience or act/s did to us. The results are devastating to hold, and thus without resource or knowledge of how, it becomes easier to ignore the results and focus on the experience or act/s. How the experience or act/s still lives in us today and how we can honour the parts of us who experienced it versus carry the experience or act/s itself as our burdens is what I wish for all.

It is hell, but in the agonizing privilege of self-belief rests our freedoms. I truly believe that by grieving we become free. Even if that grief lasts a lifetime.

Residual impacts are burdens, I will not deny that. However, they are also us. Us as the survivor who endured. Us as the humxn who lived. Us as the child who was torn from us. Waiting in the darkness of the pain to inform us of what we need now, after everything in our life changes in the unfair aftermath. We can be led and learn to live again by listening to the parts of us that survived, and then slowly invite them into new life. Modifying the skills obtained in fire through kneeling beside them, without demand or doubt, and listening to them tell the story of how they were made.

 

why do you talk about privilege so much?

Despite the fetisihized feminism in media, the exploitation of activism in society, and the commercialization of this topic, white supremacy is nothing new.

We live in a world that demands our attentions lie elsewhere, estranged from our internal truths and the realities others face. Beginning with colonization, white supremacy and ideology blurred everything into one harm-inducing state of existence that centred white capitalism. The truth of the body became muddled, manipulated, and silenced. Rest was villainized, body autonomy stolen, and culture erased. Carried across generations, bodies began to hold onto the truths of their ancestors as further abuse and trauma, racism and segregation, hatred and murder co-mingled and amplified yet remained normalized. The authority of the body became the authority of the white, and the authority of the white is murder.

I believe that the path to truly unpacking the global ancient trauma epidemic can only be found by listening to those who know the reality of this level of suffering. By encouraging sustained belief of the global survivor body, and the ways in which it holds the residual impacts of abuse and trauma throughout the course of a lifetime, the world will be demanded to heal alongside it. Which is why I also believe that survivors hold the key to shifting injustice on individual, communal, and global levels.

This work is the only work, and it begins within us.

The discomfort of discussions around these topics must continue in order to even begin to orchestrate change within them. By sharing my story, my research, and my understanding, I start conversations regarding these topics with a hope to begin shifting things at an individual and community level. It is my responsibility to be very aware of privilege as I do, and continue maintaining my education regarding them.
 

What can I do as a Non-Professional ally/advocate?

  • Pause and ask yourself:

    • Am I able to listen to the individual in question without letting my valid and understood guilt lead my actions?

    • Do I hold the resources to process with a professional, trusted individual, or other source that doesn’t include the person I’m listening to?

    • Am I able check in with myself during my time with that individual and recognize when I’ve met my personal and valid limit?

    • Am I able to hold healthy boundaries that model to that individual what they can/should follow in a healthy relationship?

    • Am I able to listen and believe without fixing, demanding explanation, or questioning?

  • If you answered “Yes” to all of these:

    • Listen and believe them.

    • Point them in the direction of professional support.
       

Are you a voice for the voiceless?

Absolutely not.

It is my responsibility as a white, unjustly privileged, humxn to consistently do the work to remain vigilant to my place in this world. Which is why I speak on behalf of my own personal 18-years of abuse. Holding awareness that my experience is privileged, some/all of the healing methods I learned through my resources of therapy and education have been stolen from those who came before me without acknowledgement, and my voice is not special or unique.

I have high knowledge of this field because my trauma demands I do. I have an understanding that exists outside of a text book. I have had the privilege to escape and choose life long healing. I have the option to work hard so I can sit down next to leaders and invite conversations that need to occur, instead of simply give answers.

My entire life will forevermore be impacted by the aftermath of what was done to me. This advocacy I choose is a result of that.

I will fail. So, if I ever speak in a manner that insults your marginalized community please always feel free to contact and inform me. I can hold space for your truth, take accountability, and shift. You deserve to feel safe here.

What can I do for trauma victims?

Believe them.

Creating a more trauma informed society starts by becoming educated on trauma, and the complexities that exist around it. We all hold prejudice, we all hold bias, we all experience guilt. Your task begins by sitting in the discomfort and growing comfortable with the experience of it in your skin without deflecting or denying someone else’s truth because of it. Your part to create a more trauma-informed society begins with yourself.

Being challenged should be an active part of your life as a privileged individual. Becoming aware, learning about what people are facing, and doing the work to unpack your own place in building a society that allows it to continue. Because when it comes to abuse and trauma, until our world makes active changes in how it handles abuse, and makes space for everyone who faces it, every resource we make, every dollar we spend, will not be a sustainable aid.

The only ones who escape are those with the privilege to, and they are the same ones with the access to the few resources outside of the trauma. Resources that centre white, able-bodied, cisgendered, thin, neurotypical, christian individuals and/or those with the privilege to “pass” as them. Your journey down the pathway to understanding trauma will undoubtedly intersect with racism, segregation, and hatred. This is vital work that must be done on a consistent basis. Again, until we create a safer world, nothing you can really do will be of sustainable benefit to those who deserve care.

I suggest by researching the grass roots efforts in your local community who are doing work to educate the public on trauma and abuse. This will give you an inside look into the reality that many face in your area and what those with insight are doing to help. It will also provide perspective on where you feel led to go next. You can contact a professional, search out podcasts, read articles, listen to stories across social media. Actively participate in the conversations that go on, recognize the micro microaggressions and victim blaming that occur daily, and question the normalisation of abuse, racism, and hatred.

There are so many resources and avenues to understand trauma and abuse, but the only route that works for you is the one that you create and commit to.

Here are some other places to begin:

The Body Keeps Score

TED Talk: How Childhood Trauma Impacts Health Across a Lifetime

Understanding the Impact of Trauma

Trauma Informed Tool-Kit Packet

Resources for Responding to Trauma and Tragedy

Erika Hart, M.Ed. Sex Educator and Racial/Social/Gender Justice Disruptor *

Rachel Elizabeth Cargle Writer/Lecturer *

No White Saviors *

Seeding Sovereignty *

Media Indigena - Interactive Indigenous Insight *

Jimanekia Eborn - Queer Media Consultant, Comprehensive Sex Educator, and Sexual Assault & Trauma Expert.*

“Let’s Talk About Race and Human Trafficking” Article

HEAL Trafficking

Love146

The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking

Survivor Alliance

National Survivor Network

The Life Story

*Please be sure to respect their space, and compensate them for their work.