Russell discusses his experience as a survivor of trafficking and his thoughts on sharing personal stories in the anti-trafficking world. He acknowledges that while sharing stories can be important, it is ultimately up to the survivor to decide if they want to share their experiences. Russell cautions against the concept of "trauma porn" and the exploitation of survivors' experiences for sympathy or attention. Instead, he suggests focusing on the impact of trafficking on individuals and society as a whole. He emphasizes that survivors should not feel pressured or obligated to share their stories and that it is important to prioritize their own well-being.
"One of the things that I confront a lot in the anti-trafficking world is the request to come and share my story, and you know, that's in many ways, it's a very private experience. And um, while I don't feel any shame around that experience, I also don't need to feel exploited for that experience either. Um, the concept that I come up with is trauma porn, and there are a lot of organizations and opportunities if you want to do the anti-trafficking work as a Survivor, as a thriver, as someone with lived experience. You will be asked to tell your story, and my advice to you is that you don't have to tell your story. It's really not about your story as much as it is about your understanding of the impact of that experience on your life and how Society has made this experience possible, to be quite honest. And so, I think, um, a really important thing for people who want to do this work to understand is that you're the one in control of your story, and if you don't want to tell your story, don't tell your story. Um, for me personally, when I, when I do refer to my experience, my lived experience, I may say something about, well, you know, my mother did this as a point of reference and context when I'm sharing knowledge about the overall issue around human trafficking. So, I just think it's really important for those of you who want to be involved in the anti-trafficking world to understand that your story is yours and yours alone, and nobody has a right to pressure you or expect you to share the nitty-gritty details of what you went through, um, regardless of whether trauma re-traumatizes you or not, um, because it is trauma porn, and trauma porn is not okay. And manipulating an audience to garner sympathy um, for you is not the professional space that I want to see you uh, thrive in, foreign."