Russell discusses his dislike for the title of "survivor" in the anti-trafficking world. He explains that the term reminds him of a difficult time in his life when he was in survival mode and had to compromise his morals and ethics to get by. He prefers to be identified as a "thriver" instead, someone who is thriving and engaging in life. While he acknowledges that the term "survivor" may be empowering for others, he wants to help people find a place in their journey where they are thriving instead.
I think one of the important parts of my relationship in the anti-trafficking world is the title of Survivor, and um, for me personally, I hate that title. You know, for a lot of people, it can be a really empowering uh, moniker, but for me, it just reminds me of a time in my life when I was in survival mode. And when I was in survival mode was probably one of the worst times of my life. You know, and I don't live there anymore. I don't live physically there, I don't live emotionally there, I don't live intellectually there. Um, I can survive, and you know, in the broader scheme and understanding of that word, yeah, I am a survivor. But I don't want to be identified as a Survivor because to me, surviving sucks, you know. Surviving um, is a place where you will do anything you have to do to get through that moment or that day. And I think that, you know, it's a, it's a time and a place where you're willing to compromise your morals and your ethics, and that's, that's not a happy place for me. And so for me, you know, the goal was to get out of that space of surviving, to get to a place where I was thriving and really living my best self, and being able to look in the mirror and really appreciate the person who I'm looking back at and who I've become. And that's someone who thrives and not survives. And I think that for a lot of people that are working in the anti-trafficking world who have lived experience, uh, again, um, if identifying as a Survivor is empowering for you and gives you that inner strength to get through your day and feel good about who you are, then by all means, embrace that term, you know, and at every level and in every way you can. Um, but for some of us, it's not a great space and it's not a great title to have. So for me, I'm a thriver, and that's how I like to be identified, as somebody who's really thriving and engaging in life. And if that's, you know, something that you can relate to, then wonderful. And if I can help you find a place in your life and in your journey to where you're thriving, by all means, I would love to be a part of that journey.