To my dear friends, colleagues and followers,
In 2008 for the first time, I realized that Human Trafficking was an actual crime. I had no idea that there were already people, survivor leaders organizations, police and politicians who had already worked hard to raise awareness and make serious changes to our system, laws, and society to eradicate this crime. That was the first time I realized I was a victim of an actual crime.
The day I found out that the crime that almost took my life was called Human trafficking, the day was the reason I found out what my calling was.
As soon as I realized that this world of passionate bunch exists, I knew I would dedicate the rest of my life in some shape or form to this cause. In 2009 I started publicly speaking about it, then I started a safe house where I met many amazing people. We began to Walk With Me Canada Victim Services; we worked with thousands of Police officers and Service Providers and assisted over 500 cases and over 400 victims and their families when Human Trafficking was not a buzzword. When most shelters, doctors, and ERs wouldn’t take us. When funding was not allocated. When people thought Human Trafficking only happened in Thailand.
We have come a long way since then as a society and a country. I have seen so many changes I never thought I would see in this lifetime, and I am eternally grateful. Unfortunately, these changes didn’t come without sacrifices. Sacrifices from the Police officers, the case workers, lawmakers, service providers and Survivor leaders turned advocates turned victim management workers.
I will do this work until I am old and grey. My passion remained the same.
But this is my stop, folks.
Unfortunately, the movement, as is, is no longer a safe environment for Survivor leaders worldwide. Unfortunately, in the middle of the excitement, we started an extremely unhealthy trend: Unethical storytelling and Charity Pimping. The movement got highjacked by profit-driven Non-profits and Charities and self-promoting leaders.
While there is much great work being done, unfortunately, our Governments are not listening; there are no regulations, no mandated training, and no genuine National comprehensive efforts to eradicate one of the worst crimes against humanity; there are a lot of large organizations that basically own the space, and granting system and do not listen to experts and the money that was supposed to go to solution-oriented programs, are constantly going into programs that are not needed, not effective and is not going to get out of this problem.
After 14 years of blood, sweat and tears, joy, love and miracles, I decided to take a huge step back from my Human Trafficking Advocacy work. (After speaking with Survivor leaders around the world, I heard that I am not the only one.)
I will continue to move the needle but from a safe distance. From a place where my story is not used for entertainment, but we focus on solutions instead. A place where people don’t want to pet me like a zoo animal and give me a 25 dollars gift card after delivering a Keynote, a Keynote that got the highest rate of the entire event. A place where they don’t put your name in a million dollars grant, then when they receive the money, they call you to tell you that they don’t actually need you for this project (but they received it because your name was attached), And then they proceed to spend the money elsewhere.
That being said, I have met some of the most incredible honourable, hard-working, passionate people, leaders, organizations and charities. Sadly their voice is also being silenced in many ways; despite all the hardships, they are still moving and shaking and doing their best to make a difference. You guys are my heroes!
I hope that in the next few years, we can start focusing on building a safer place for Survivor Leaders to work in this space.
A space where your bio will be read out with your accomplishments instead of: “The next speaker is a woman who has been through a lot,” and when its time to talk about solutions, they will show you off stage to give space to academic experts to answers questions about Survivor’s needs. Not to mention that they often don't want to compensate you for any of this work. There is a lot more to it, and I am preparing a podcast series that will be released in the fall about things we could do differently.
In the meantime, I want to thank every single one of you who heard my plea over the years, who stood up and decided to be a part of the solution. I want to thank the thousands of Police officers, Service Providers, and Victim Services for everything you have done and continue to do so for this cause. I want to thank the Politicians who fought for our new laws and continue to try to make systematic changes. I know it's challenging. I want to thank every single one of you who bought my book, spread the message, supported all of our initiatives, and believed and still believe in the mission.
I am very proud of everything we have done, but I am also extremely sad to see the current movement.
That being said, I have hope. Hope is my middle name😊
I know we can turn this around. I need a break and find a space where I can continue to land my voice, and expertise, a space or sector that is solution oriented—a space where fair compensation is the bottom line.
It is definitely not a goodbye, but it is definitely a see you later.
What is this mean?
It means that effective Jun 9th, I will take a break from individual speaking engagements, conferences, community-building workshops, educational Charity, Non-Profit, Government consulting, and policy work.
What is next? Definitely, not the sandy beach since I wouldn’t say I like the sun or the ocean 😊
I spent the last three years building an environment where our policies, survivor engagement, contracts and compensation are how I wish the world will operate one day. My company, Tc Online Institute, the world’s first Survivor Lead Training, Compliance and Risk Assessment Center, is stronger than ever. We have exciting projects and are working on some exciting changes. Announcements are coming soon! So stay tuned, please.
I am also working on my podcast for the last four months. We should be able to release the first few episodes by the fall. I hope you will tune in?
I am also working on my second book, called Beyond the Shadows. Beyond the Shadows will be about the movement, the incredible people in it, the heroes we met along the way, the Police, Service providers, the GOOD work done, and the cases we worked on from my perspective. What is very special about this book is that my husband, an artist from a third generation of writers, who lived through almost every moment with me, supported me and was there for me emotionally through the entire ordeal, will be my co-author.
As I said, I am not going too far; I will continue from a remote distance in a much safer space emotionally, financially and physically. (For now 😉)
Again, thank you for your love and support.
Normally when you leave a position after 14 years, you could have a retirement party; since I have never worked for anyone specifically but worked with many, I don’t think it will be possible, but I want you all to know what an honour it has been to get to know you, work with you, support you and watch you become such a warrior, movers and shakers.
Thank you for listening.
Much love to you all.
Timea and her Husband and Co-author, Dan Payne