Marian Hatcher

What does Survivor Leadership mean to you?

Survivor leadership means new life, first life for some. It’s a responsibility. A requirement even, because if someone whose experience mirrored mine hadn’t come along I would always second guess the opportunities available to come out of darkness and succeed “post exploitation”.

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

16 years

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

Working for law enforcement and coordination of the largest sex buyer sting operation in the United States. Responsible for holding more than 10,000 sex buyers accountable.

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

Faith, my belief in my lord and savior Jesus Christ.

What are some challenges you have faced in the fight against human trafficking as a Survivor Leader?

We always have to prove and reprove ourselves. We constantly have to validate our seat at the table. Additionally, we have inner struggles such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, low self esteem, substance use disorder and more. Recovering while rebuilding is a very difficult path when exit services are lacking and poorly funded, combined with biases, even from allies who do want us to succeed. These underlying issues are always lurking under the surface or in our face front and center.

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

Your healing is most important. Do whatever it takes to protect your soul from further pain. Align with safe people, survivors and others, always knowing that isolation is deadly and the wrong set of friends/allies can be as well. Learn you, your triggers, your likes, your dreams. Don’t be afraid to hope and make healthy choices. Love yourself, you deserve it. Life no matter how difficult is worth living. The sky’s the limit, you literally can achieve things you never thought possible. You are loved and never alone.

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

To most, Do better. Survivors must be employed in your organizations not used as tokens. Cease and desist re-exploitation. To others, thank you for your respect, your encouragement, your support and having us at the table. Thank you for opening doors so we can share policy and legislative ideas not only our “stories”.

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

Bravo, I applaud your courage, tenacity and vision. Thank you for believing in us before we even needed it. Well done.