Tempe, Arizona – For the first time in history, child pornography survivors from across North America gathered together this week to discuss the profound worldwide impact caused by the creation and distribution of their child sex abuse images. Calling themselves the ‘Phoenix Ten,’ survivors shared their lifelong experiences and organized as a powerful force demanding change.
Organized by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (Canadian Centre) and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), this inaugural meeting brought together 10 survivors who are part of the first generation of child sex abuse survivors whose victimization was recorded and shared online.
“Words cannot adequately describe the power of this first meeting of these survivors,” said Lianna McDonald, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. “They are no longer silenced. They have a strong desire to mobilize and make change happen.”
Survivors banded together to share experiences and create a force to challenge the inadequate responses to the prevalence of child sex abuse images on the Internet. One outcome of the retreat was the establishment of an action group focusing on bringing the collective voice of these victims to the international stage.
“For far too long, this population has not had a voice,” said Michelle DeLaune, Chief Operating Officer, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “The time has finally come when these survivors are mobilized and empowered to fight for their rights and the rights of so many other victims who have had to live with the trauma that their child sex abuse images are online everywhere forever.”
The Canadian Centre shared information about its groundbreaking International Survivors’ Survey. The survey was developed to better understand the unique challenges faced by survivors whose child sex abuse was recorded and, in many instances, distributed online. To date, 150 survivors from around the world have contributed valuable information about their experience caused by this type of victimization. Responses from the survey, as well as feedback from retreat participants, underscored the desperate need for better services and remedies addressing this unique population.
“Meeting with other survivors has validated my experiences and energized me to keep pushing forward for change,” said one of the Phoenix Ten. “Now that we are connected and have a collective voice, I know we will be able to change systems for ourselves and for future victims.”
The impact of this unprecedented event is reflected in a statement by Odette, one of the Phoenix Ten: “Once a victim, now a Survivor, forever a Fighter. We will not be silenced.”
For all the children, young adults, and victims who feel they cannot survive, the Phoenix Ten represent a future filled with hope and the promise of a brighter future free from the shame and abuse of their past.