By Melissa Jane Kronfeld & Matthew Pinna
Kyra Doubek’s courageous journey from a childhood of sexual exploitation to a career of survivor service provision is an inspiring testament to the strength of the human spirit.
On December 10, 2012 Kyra left ‘The Life’, ending seven long years of commercial sexual exploitation that began when she was only 15 years old. And that time, there were no available survivor services in her community, and it took two long years for Kyra to reach to the Organization for Prostitution Survivors (OPS) to receive necessary transitional and employment support. Over the next year, after living in public housing and requiring food stamps to survive, Kyra moved back into the workforce – traveling five hours on a bus before walking an additional four miles, often through Washington’s cold, wet and windy weather to get to her new job with the OPS. Later, Kyra proudly became an organizational board member.
Kyra – who is working towards her Associates Degree at Green River College – now serves as a Behavioral Health Specialist in Washington State for Kent Youth & Family Services CSEC Unit. In this capacity she created and launched and entirely new approach to ending human trafficking in her city. Kyra’s program provides holistic care for adult survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and she has developed a trauma-informed curriculum for the city court diversion program. She has also inspired a local survivor-support group and a women’s empowerment group. Her work has already affected the lives of 20 survivors that have been taken into the program.
Her much needed impact has also been felt in the community. Since starting in September 2017, Kyra has fostered new partnerships and collaborations, has given dozens of presentations, and has led education and training programs for over 300 citizens and police officers. Thanks to her efforts, the City of Kent is strengthening anti-trafficking legislation, has adopted an official Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month, and has launched efforts to end human trafficking through the Port of Seattle with vigor.
Proud of her three beautiful kids and supported by her boyfriend, Kyra is celebrating almost five years of recovery from polysubstance abuse. Lover of pizza and cats, Kyra tell us that she lives every day remembering her responsibility is to survivors, and to call people in, and to serve. Because no one can do it alone.
Check out what happened when we caught up with Kyra to talk about the fight to #EndSlaveryNow!
What is one fact that every person should know about slavery?
The chains of the mind are the strongest, the longest lasting. We do not heal overnight. I’m still healing, the mental chains are still there some days.
How were you able to escape from a life of slavery & what did you decide to do to help others with your experience?
This is not an easy answer. I escaped because I was arrested for a non-related charge. I was in jail for 90 days. I always joke that my God “plucked me out of the life and said ‘You’re done!’”
What is the most critical obstacle preventing us from having a slave free world?
People using slaves and thinking it is acceptable and justifying their behaviors as harmless; massive forms of inequality, poverty, injustice, racism, greed. There is not just “one obstacle.” There are a series of obstacles EVERYWHERE. But the bottom line is, if there were no buyers, this would go away.
What is the most important lesson you have learned while fighting for freedom?
We cannot be free without UNITY. We must come together and practice unity. It will take all of us, together serving a primary purpose and never forgetting why we do it. We must lay our egos aside and serve the greatest good for the greatest number. We must remember principles like unity and courage, and not place individual personalities above the common goal.
Why do you believe the Millennial generation will be the one that can end slavery?
Gosh, the idea of this ending in my lifetime would be great. I don’t know that people will set aside their differences, but I’m going to try and help them. Education is key, compassion is key. If we can instill these values in people and teach them how to practice them, great things can happen.
I think Millennial’s are seeing how their parents messed up and where. Today, more information is accessible and the topic of social inequality has been brought into modern-day conversations. I think there is hope. I have a lot of hope, and commitment to this.
What does a slave free world look like to you?
It looks safer. It looks like not having to sit in interviews while a child tells police about how somebody sold her and describe the crime. It looks like not having to fight for kids through systems that fail them. It would mean not having to sit with a thirty or forty year-old woman who was failed as a minor and helping her piece together or rebuild her life. There would be less pain and suffering, less poverty, more equality, less social workers and less tax dollars to social service programs because it would no longer be necessary.
What is one thing every reader can start doing right now to help end slavery?
Aside from doing this work directly or donating to organizations that serve survivors, with dedicated survivor services… DON’T BUY SEX! If you are not buying sex – if you are not supporting systems that exploit vulnerable populations (i.e. strip clubs, bikini baristas or pornography), if you do not feed into commercial sexual exploitation, we will not be dehumanizing people. Stop thinking any of it is remotely acceptable and harmless because exploitation comes in a variety of ways. If you don’t do those things, you are already leaps ahead of many.
We also see that the majority of sex buyers are male, so we need male allies to talk to other men about not supporting these systems of exploitation. If a friend is joking about it, say something. Women experience disproportionate sexual and physical violence. Please be there for us when nobody is looking.
And finally, be willing to hire, rent to, provide services to survivors. Help support our journey to healing.
Profiles In Abolition is an in-depth look at the influencers, innovators & thought leaders in the modern anti-slavery movement. An accompaniment to Millennial Magazine’s ongoing 10-part series exposing modern slavery – a project of the Nexus Global Youth Summit (catch up with Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four & Part Five) – Profiles In Abolition will examine a diverse & inspiring array of advocates whose critical voice must be heard.
Want to learn more from the world’s leading luminaries in the fight to #EndSlaveryNow? Sign up for the Nexus Anti-Slavery Speaker Series, a weekly conference call with the men and women on the front lines of the modern abolition movement! This call is open to the public and everyone is welcome to listen in! Click here to register for free. Then learn more about modern slavery by following Nexus on Twitter, Instagram & Millennial Magazine!