As the awareness campaign against human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation spreads across America and beyond, the call for survivor speakers rises. From community events to nationwide media coverage, a survivor helps to drive home the message that this is an issue here in America. As an established speaker, Holly can present on the following topics related to the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), including child sex trafficking:
Survivor Story / Perspective: Holly can read from her book, Walking Prey, and share her personal testimony and perspective on prevention, aftercare, and/or advocacy. NOTE: This can be tailored to a certain length of time and specific audiences (e.g. general public, law enforcement, medical/mental health providers, and/or advocates).
Human Trafficking 101 and/or CSEC 101: An introduction to human trafficking (i.e. sex and labor trafficking) with an emphasis on CSEC and child sex trafficking. NOTE: This can be tailored to a certain length of time.
The ‘Willing Victim’: In her book, Walking Prey, Holly discusses the mindset of “willing victims.” A child victim who refuses help and/or does not self-identify as a victim is often called a “willing victim” as was Holly at age fourteen. The purpose of this presentation is to offer victim-centered insight to law enforcement, medical/mental health providers, and other victim advocates working with this population, as well as to offer advice for prevention of CSEC.
“Words will never explain the hush that ushered into Senate Room B while Holly courageously told her story. No one moved, no one spoke, and everyone listened…We discussed with delight the unanimous vote and we were all so thankful that we witnessed Justice.”
“So thankful Holly has the courage to share her story.”
“Keep speaking out, they need this (the youth)”
“I finally met Holly on January 11, 2012, at the 2nd Annual NJ Human Trafficking Awareness Day at the Statehouse in Trenton, NJ. Her heartfelt message was humbly presented to explain that although she was only “in the life” for 3 days at the age of 14, the severe trauma that she experienced affected her tremendously for many years thereafter. Now as a successful college graduate and career biologist, she is able to assist others to learn about this heinous crime and mentor those who have also been victimized.”
“Very good way of presenting horrible experiences. Very educational.”
“Holly is empowering and motivational. Her experience as a victim of minor sex trafficking offers insight and reassurance that we are taking the right measures to combat the issue of human trafficking in our community.”
“Thanks for sharing your story.”
“Really powerful topic and great speaker!”
“Holly participated and presented during the release of Shared Hope’s Protected Innocence Challenge in San Antonio this past year. Her professionalism coupled with her personal story brought a powerful message to the event. She is an amazing advocate in the anti domestic minor sex trafficking field.”
“I can’t wait to read her book and share the info about a willing victim with my team. Great opening presenter.”
“Thank you for sharing your story!”
“Holly was generous in sharing her story, enlightening and educating many, that human trafficking can, and often does, happen to anyone. As a New Jersey native, her presentation at NJ’s recognition of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day had great impact. While many in the audience already had a good understanding of Human Trafficking, Holly reminded us all just how easily someone can be caught up and then held as a victim of Human Trafficking. I feel honored to know Holly and to be given the opportunity to learn about her victimization as a young person and her triumph as a survivor. She is a competent, successful, and beautiful human being.”
“Holly touched the souls of many people in the room today – I was one of them. I thank her deeply for taking the time out of her life to speak today and share a part of her life that I can’t imagine is easy. I thank her also for being so brave and speaking out and doing all of the hard work she does to make a difference so that maybe others won’t have to experience what she did!! I know for sure that Holly validated a lot of hard work that many in today’s room do day in and day out – especially me!! There are days that you feel that what you’re doing doesn’t matter – and then people like Holly and others tell their stories years later and it clearly reminds us all that we need to continue to do what we do – because it does make a difference however big or small.”
“Holly has consistently been an informative and transfixing resource when speaking to our groups. She shares her story in a way that draws the audience back in time, to themselves as 14-year-olds. Audience members have said that you could hear a pin drop as she described her trauma and her incredible ability to overcome adversity. Audiences have raved about Holly’s presentations, from both those who have served trafficking victims for years to those who are just learning of the problem.”
“Thank you for sharing your story and giving insight to others. Very inspirational.”
“Holly Austin Smith was our opening speaker for the 2014 NM Anti-Human Trafficking Summit. Her story is both heart-rending and challenging. It is heart-rending to know that she had to endure such atrocities, and challenging because it is now up to us as a society to address the factors she presented that contribute to our daughters being susceptible to domestic sex trafficking. Holly captivated our audience of social workers, therapists, first responders and law enforcement immediately and helped them come to an understanding of DMST that they previously didn’t have…
As the opening speaker for our educational and awareness event, Holly immediately brought the attendees into the hidden world of DMST. She was a terrific presenter who kept us engaged in her presentation through her honesty, vulnerability and even her humor. In my opinion one of the most powerful things that Holly did was allow for the audience to ask questions and seek clarification so that their understanding of this topic could be well-grounded. She is an incredible person and an inspiration to all who encounter her.”
- Shelley Repp, Executive Director, Spoken For
“Holly’s presentation was very touching, her honesty is very evident. She is candid and to the point in ways that paint the picture clearly in terms of her journey. Her presentation skills and the way she connects with her audience keeps everyone engaged.”
“Excellent engagement of audience!”
“Holly’s personal story coupled with her complex knowledge about the dynamics of human trafficking was not only inspirational but informative. Her ability to answer questions from different audience members with varying degrees of knowledge about the issue was impressive. She is exactly the kind of advocate we need to be at front and center of the movement to combat human trafficking.”
“Loved hearing Holly’s story and her mindset.”
“Many times during my law enforcement career, I’ve had to deal with difficult victims. However, Holly refocused me to the idea that those who need our help the most may often be the most difficult to help. I now teach law enforcement to remember our mission, and that is to accept and understand the difficult victim, and be there for those who need us the most. Thanks for your inspiration Holly!!”
“Holly spoke openly about such a personal and traumatic event. She showed me that it is important to remember to show empathy to people while conducting investigations.”
“Holly did a wonderful job in addressing her experience and the effects of Human Sex Trafficking when she spoke at our education program. Between Holly’s presentation and reading her book “Walking Prey”, my eyes were really opened to the serious issues this country is having and how endangered our children can be. Holly is an asset to any presentation that your organization my be having.”
“Very inspirational. Ms. Smith’s courage and strength, her conceptualization of how media influences children is so true and I was so impressed to hear her speaking about this important topic.”
“Holly is a phenomenal presenter! She’s easy going, down to earth, and eager to provide support for our local trafficking community! She spent time providing insight into local concerns about survivor populations. She was very personable, friendly, and organized. She had everything prepared in advance and quickly responded to organizational requests. She provided deep insight into human trafficking. The audience genuinely connected with Holly on a personal level. Her presentation provided an excellent overview of human trafficking populations and amazing survivor successes.”
“Important story for us to hear! It happened right in our ‘backyard’! Can happen anywhere!”
“Holly’s story was amazing and I appreciate her courage in coming and speaking to us.”
“Very informative and moving. Set a meaningful tone to the day.”
“Thank you for inviting Ms. Austin Smith!”
“People seemed very interested. No one was talking. Holly’s unique perspective was valuable…”
“Thank you! She is courageous.”
“Good content. Loved hearing her story, can not wait to read her book.”
“Brought to my attention the severity of teens being taken and trafficked. Changed my belief that it only happens in different countries.”
Request Additional Survivor Speakers
Every survivor has a unique and compelling story, and each story is significant in the understanding of how to prevent human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, how to protect survivors, how to prosecute cases, and how to partner with stakeholders in the community. Healthy and empowered survivors work together in advocating for our communities, ourselves, and each other.
To request additional survivor speakers, please reach out to survivor organizations and speakers’ bureaus to find a survivor speaker that fits with the scope and goals of your event. Organizations include: the National Survivor Network, created by the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) and comprised of survivors of sex and labor trafficking; the Survivor Leadership Institute and Resource Center, created by the Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS) and comprised of survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, including sex trafficking; Voices of Hope, created by Safe Horizon and comprised of survivors of sex and labor trafficking; Sex Trafficking Survivors United (STSU), created by survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, including sex trafficking; Runaway Girl, FPC, created by author and attorney, Carissa Phelps, and comprised of survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, including child sex trafficking; and The Truth Panel, created by the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives and composed of survivors of sex and labor trafficking.
Additional survivor speakers have been featured on Holly’s column with the Communities Digital News (formerly the Washington Times Communities). See Holly’s Blog for more information.