What does it mean to be a Survivor Leader? That was the question posed to me. A survivor leader....hmmmm. For me, it means nothing, and yet everything. Nothing, because I tend to be a person who puts little importance or value on titles and positions. And everything, because how we treat our fellow people is paramount; it is everything.
Here's the thing: I am tremendously grateful to have survived being trafficked, so much so, that there are truly not words created in the English language to fully express it. It is an honor to have the life I have. I fully realize this, and I try with all I have not to take it for granted. I know what it is to not have freedom, to feel my life is truly not my own. I do not think that one incredibly, significant caveat means I deserve more honor than someone who didn't survive or vice versa. I believe we are each worthy of honor, love, and respect because of who we are and were created to be.
Surviving, in and of itself, is not worthy of note. In fact, I am incredibly humbled and brought to tears every single time I consider the fact that I did survive. And that leads me to my personal truth. Surviving this life, having done all one can do to live it to the full, and in accordance with their Maker's plan, now that is worthy of note. I pray by my life's end I will be worthy of note, based on this definition.
Leader. Survivor Leader. To me, it means utilizing my experience in such a way as to positively influence my fellow man. Whether that is in actually leading and assisting others through their trafficking experience, walking with them along the journey to heal, educating on the truths of trafficking here in America, or simply being the best version of me I can possibly be. To me, leadership is living in such a way as to encourage, edify, influence, and raise up those around me. You do not have to be a survivor to do that, you just need to be willing to share yourself.
So, am I a Survivor Leader? Perhaps. I just think I'm simply Kathy.
[As written for RBM's blog: http://www.rebeccabender.org/blog/2016/6/9/what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-survivor-leader]