Survivor Leadership Institute

About the Survivor Leadership Institute and Resource Center (SLI)

GEMS Survivor Leadership Institute and Resource Center (SLI) is a platform of support to survivors of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) and domestic trafficking. SLI is the only national platform for survivors of CSE and domestic trafficking aimed at strengthening and supporting survivors at various levels of growth and leadership. This support network and resource center will assist survivors to not only emerge as leaders within the movement to end commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking but will support survivors to become leaders within their own lives. The idea to create SLI came out of our findings that women continue to be exploited long after they have exited the commercial sex industry. Often times survivors are left with the perception that their experiences are the only thing that can define who they are and with limited support to expand their leadership abilities; survivors are being place into a tokenism role within the anti-trafficking movement. Funded by the NOVO foundation, SLI consists of multiple layers to meet the needs of survivors to excel in the areas where their strengths lie, give them additional support to emerge as leaders, and provide different outlets and roles for survivors that are not solely based on their past experiences in the commercial sex industry. The SLI resource center consists of a wide range of survivor created and informed materials, training’s and workshops.


What is survivor leadership?

Survivor leadership embodies the notion that survivors are more than a collective montage of traumatic events. We believe that survivors are in no way defined by their experiences, but are to be valued for their skills, abilities, and will to create their own life path. Leadership is not a standard unit of measurement. In the movement to end commercial sexual exploitation, it can look like survivor-led agencies,  survivor-created materials or survivor-informed programming. Survivor leadership does not  necessarily mean telling your story, or even working in the advocacy movement, or as a counselor in direct services. It could mean working for law enforcement, obtaining an advanced degree, working as a lawyer, a teacher, or in any desired profession. Survivors can be leaders in any field Рfrom astrophysics to computer programming to the music industry. There is no limit or set picture of what survivor leadership looks like.