Voices of Freedom: Responding to Human Trafficking through Storytelling

August 13, 2021
| Katherine Chon, Director, Office on Trafficking in Persons
Voices of Freedom Archive

I am proud to announce the launch of the Voices of Freedom Archive, a collection of nearly 100 recorded conversations featuring the reflections of survivors of human trafficking and allied professional in the anti-trafficking field. Voices of Freedom is a public-private collaboration between HHS’ Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP), the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), and StoryCorps Visit disclaimer page. The archive preserves and shares the voices of those who have informed, shaped, and contributed to the successes of the anti-human trafficking field over the past two decades. 

Voices of Freedom chronicles the impacts of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 by capturing and archiving the stories of survivors who experienced human trafficking before its passage and exploring the legislation’s legacy through stories told by those who have had access to its protections and services. These firsthand accounts of survivors’ experiences and how their experiences have changed over the past 20 years will be preserved at the American Folklife Center Visit disclaimer page at the U.S. Library of Congress. 

Voices of Freedom demonstrates the power of conversation and storytelling, illustrating how oral history is crucial to public service and public record-keeping. Storytelling has long played a critical role in how we communicate and build relationships with each other. Communicating through story activates different parts of the brain that help us better understand what the speaker is feeling and trying to convey. In a Harvard Business Publishing blog Visit disclaimer page, Lani Peterson asserts, “it is through story that our minds form and examine our own truths and beliefs…we gain new perspectives and a better understanding of the world around us.” Storytelling provides vital insight into another person’s experiences, helping us develop the empathy and inspiration to act.

Storytelling is particularly important in our work to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. Voices of Freedom presents a diverse range of lived experiences, contributes to the democratization of historical records, and emphasizes the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the development of anti-human trafficking programs and initiatives. Audrey Morrissey expounds on the need for survivor leadership and diverse representation in her story Visit disclaimer page, describing how she is “most proud” to see “survivors that are out in the communities reaching out to our youth.” Audrey stresses the importance of listening to individuals who have experienced trafficking and including their expertise in anti-trafficking work. Stories like Audrey’s challenge us to reexamine the past to ensure the voices of those experiencing trafficking in the present are heard. 

Providing a space for everyone to tell stories of their lived experiences, as well as a space for everyone to listen, is a continuing priority. Please consider adding your story to the Voices of Freedom archive, which is an on-going initiative. Each conversation captured will help inform how we can better identify, assist, and protect victims and survivors of human trafficking. Are you interested? Visit OTIP's Voices of Freedom webpage to get started. For other questions or requests, please email our program office at:  EndTrafficking@acf.hhs.gov.

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About the Office on Trafficking in Persons

The Office on Trafficking in Persons develops anti-trafficking strategies, policies, and programs to prevent human trafficking; builds health and human service capacity to respond to human trafficking; increases victim identification and access to services; supports research and data to advance best practices; and strengthens health and well-being outcomes for survivors of human trafficking.  Follow OTIP on LinkedIn Visit disclaimer page.

About the Administration for Native Americans

The Administration for Native Americans (ANA) promotes self-sufficiency for Native Americans by providing federal funding for community-based projects, and training and technical assistance to eligible tribes and native organizations.  ANA incorporates anti-trafficking efforts within the Missing and Murdered Native Americans (MMNA) — A Public Health Framework for Action.

About StoryCorps

Founded in 2003 by Dave Isay, StoryCorps is a nonpartisan national organization that has given people of all backgrounds and beliefs, in thousands of towns and cities in all 50 states, the chance to record interviews about their lives. The organization preserves the recordings in its archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered, and shares select stories with the public through StoryCorps’ podcast, NPR broadcasts, animated shorts, digital platforms, and best-selling books. These powerful human stories reflect the vast range of American experiences, wisdom, and values; engender empathy and connection; and remind us how much more we have in common than what divides us. Learn more at storycorps.org Visit disclaimer page.

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