Kathleen Mitchell

What does Survivor Leadership mean to you?

It means that we are recognized as being able to teach and show others what leadership looks like. That we have gone beyond being what we have done, gone past what was done to us. and use this knowledge to show others a way out. Show a way to teach not the only other survivors but also academia how to work with and for survivor leadership.

How long have you been in the movement against human trafficking?

I have been involved in this movement long before I realized there was a movement , long before the word trafficking was coined! I would  say back in the 70 ‘s when I would hide girls out in my basement from their pimps to stay safe.

What are your greatest accomplishments in the movement against human trafficking?

Besides being able to change my life I feel that being blessed to open 4 long term transitional housing for 20 women, write a diversion program for the City of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office that has diverted prostitution charges for thousands of women, implemented John School for men soliciting trafficked women while being able to educate them on how their actions affected the women, communities and their families.

What is one thing that carried you through the years as you transitioned from victim to survivor to now leader?

That what I did was not who I am. That I am a perfectly Wonder Woman that is overcoming horrendous obstacles .

What are some challenges you have faced in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation as a Survivor Leader?

Because I was one of the first survivor leaders my challenge was law enforcement (getting them to see women as human) the community in realizing women need help and appropriate resources to be able to move on. And also for women to trust us.

What advice do you have for younger Survivor Leaders who are just beginning their journeys?

DO NOT MAKE IT ABOUT YOU! This is about the women not you. Make sure you are healthy enough to do the work. I know we all heal along with doing this work but do not use this work as a platform to say look at me see what I am doing.

What advice do you have for the anti-trafficking movement as it relates to Survivor Leadership?

Don’t use a few survivors as the end-all. We have many qualified survivors who silently work hard making changes that are never recognized or acknowledged for their work.  If you are going to say you are survivor informed then be that. Use survivors in key positions, with equal pay.

To honor Norma Hotaling, what would you say to her survivor leadership or about her fight against commercial sexual exploitation?

It is hard to compare Norma to others. She was  mentor to so many. I would want to thank her for always including me in this movement and for all the guidance she gave me. I miss the many nights we stayed up talking until early morning about our dreams for programs and recovery for women addicted or not and for those used in domestic violence and prostitution.