I am an advocate and a survivor
A few years ago, as I prepared to graduate from high school, I was not one of those students that knew where I was going next. I did not know what steps to take to prepare myself for the lifelong career of my dreams, because I had no idea what that was. It terrified me. So, I enrolled in my community college and allowed the people in my life to tell me what they thought I should pursue. They thought elementary education, so I chose to major in elementary education. I settled on a field I never felt particularly drawn to because it made the people around me happy.
When I was 21, I was manipulated again, but this time it was by a man who ended up roping me into a life of human trafficking. At the time, I didn’t know that what I was facing had a name, much less how to even begin to escape it. It took an extreme act of bravery and the love of a very close friend, but I was able to report what was happening to me. I ended up having to relocate for my safety, and, now, as I rebuild my life in a new city, I realize how much of a nightmare my trafficking situation was. However, I have also realized that my experience finally allowed me to see what I was actually called to do.
My experience has made me realize that I want to help other survivors, and that is why I am an advocate today. One day, I would like to counsel other survivors of human trafficking in international countries, but, for now, being an advocate with Dressember is close enough. The need for advocacy is so great. Until I relocated, I did not have anyone on my side. My trafficker was in the military, and when the military discovered his criminal behavior, they protected their own, leaving me to fend for myself. I had no clue how to advocate or to fight for myself, which left me feeling extremely vulnerable, depressed, and re-victimized. Had I had an advocate in my corner, I believe that the outcome of my situation would have been completely different.
Advocates provide support, and they provide resources that a lot of survivors don’t even know exist. I am able to go to therapy, support myself financially, and provide childcare for my son because of my advocate. She is there in the tough times when I don’t think I can make it and when life seems too hard. She has connected me with an amazing community of survivors who can walk through life with me when no one else seems to understand. She is even in the process of helping me get back into school.
Advocates change the entire healing process for survivors.
I am an advocate because slavery is still an issue and it shouldn’t be. I am an advocate because there are so many women and children who don’t believe that healing is possible for them because they are unaware of all of the available resources. I am an advocate because without my own advocate, I am not sure where I would be.
About the Author
Hannah Blair is a psychology major with an end goal of counseling survivors of human trafficking, such as herself. She is currently pursuing a certification in Biblical counseling and is excited to be a part of Dressember! She enjoys running, cooking, and most importantly, napping.