Why should we hire her? She has felony charges. She can’t be trusted, can she? These are the words that most survivors never hear. They’re the words spoken by the employer way after a survivor of sexual exploitation self-identifies and has left the interview.
The whole way home, she’ll rehearse her self-nurturing affirmations, “I nailed it! I’m going to get that job! I think they liked me.” Or not. Maybe she’ll do what many other applicants do: beat herself up for being too honest, for that expression of doubt or the pervasive sweat that seeped through her perfectly-pressed business suit. And so she waits by phone for the call that never comes…..
There are many myths about hiring survivors of sexual exploitation that block them from contributing to our communities. While your concerns about them having no education, their trustworthiness or them becoming emotional at work are reasonable, I’d like to point out that you face those same risks with virtually any new hire. There are a multitude of things that don’t show up on background checks or reference checks. As a survivor myself, I’d like to dispel those misconceptions and offer a different perspective.
Myth #1: They have no education.
While this may be true for some, many survivors have partial degrees that were interrupted by our traffickers. We recognize the power of education and seek opportunities to return to our chosen field or continue our education. In addition, the skills we were forced to develop translate into powerful resources in the workplace. Ironically, many of us find that we’re uniquely qualified to become powerful salespeople!
Myth #2: They can’t be trusted.
In our previous lives, we developed a “code of honor” between survivors. Because safety was so elusive, we had to have each other’s back. This taught us to be trustworthy. Believe me, if you give us a chance, you’ll find our loyalty, integrity and dedication to be steadfast.
Myth #3: Survivors are too emotional for the workplace.
In our recovery, we have a whole team of professionals supporting our journey of healing: therapists, mentors, pastors and life coaches. Emotional regulation is one of the first areas of healing we address. By the time we seek employment, we’ve developed resiliency and a significant ability to regulate. We also have an amazing ability to compartmentalize, which translates to being able to focus on work rather than our issues.
Here’s some other reasons to hire a woman (or man) who’s had our experiences:
We’ve become very strong people. We’re able to multi-task and endure long hours of work.
We get concepts and vision. Because we spent years dreaming about freedom, we have a keen ability to grasp project visions and run with them.
We can talk to anyone. Therefore, we’re very effective at serving your customers and developing rapports quickly.
Because our self-worth was previously attached to our ability to produce, you’ll find us to be very hard workers.
The courage it took to survive our previous lives, now equips us to boldly step out to find solutions to work issues.
We learned to be extremely resourceful with the little we had. Therefore, you can count on us to be creative problem solvers and good stewards of company resources.
As you can see, there’s no greater risk in hiring survivors of sexual exploitation than anyone else. Ask yourself this: Have you ever been given a second chance? Do you remember how you felt?
We want a chance to show you we’re no longer the people we were, at one time, forced to be. Will you be that one person, who suspends judgement, and opens your doors to someone committed to rebuilding their life? Remember that God used all sorts of broken people to do some pretty amazing things in biblical times. Think about it please and make that call.