Sex Trafficking: Saved But Still Enslaved
Grace is 19, she has been prostituted for four years since she was lured away from her home by kidnappers. Due to the dedicated vigilance of America’s crime fighters, Grace was found and freed, and given a new life. This is a major victory, however, she faces a life of unimaginable challenges. All she has known for the past four years are chains, forced sex, beatings, dark rooms, meager sustenance and humiliation. She hasn’t had friends, she hasn’t received an education, she hasn’t felt love or human kindness since she was 15 years old. The skills Grace has forcefully developed do not naturally transfer to our society, not to mention her physical and emotional development have been eternally altered, devastated. What does she do now? What would you do? How would you know what to do? Where to go? How to start? Grace is a fictional character, but her story is real, along with the inescapable challenges she faces. Physically, survivors have any number of wounds that need medical attention — broken bones, concussions, burns, brain injury, sexually transmitted diseases, drug and/or alcohol addiction, diseases such as hepatitis or TB, and forced abortions, to name a few.
Grace is a fictional character, but her story is real, along with the inescapable challenges she faces. Physically, survivors have any number of wounds that need medical attention — broken bones, concussions, burns, brain injury, sexually transmitted diseases, drug and/or alcohol addiction, diseases such as hepatitis or TB, and forced abortions, to name a few.
Psychologically, the trauma goes even deeper: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, suicidal ideation, Stockholm Syndrome, anxiety, depression, insomnia, self-loathing, distrust, fear, grief, shame, mind/body separation, disassociated ego states and other psychiatric disorders. Research has found that individuals who have been trafficked are often trapped in a cycle of self-blame and deep fear, which makes it seemingly impossible to leave the situation. Women often revert to the life of prostitution because they don’t get the help they need and it’s all they know. In a way, it’s similar to prison recidivism — former prisoners have a difficult time re-acclimating to society and are vulnerable to return to their former ways.
Without proper help, human and sex-trafficked individuals are at serious risk for problems, evident by the fact that a victim has an average life expectancy of only seven years. So what should survivors do? What resources are available?
According to the US Department of State, “Building long-term, trusting relationships is at the heart of this therapeutic work, which requires time and flexible models of engagement and treatment, including group therapy with peers. In addition to group and individual trauma-specific counseling, a range of alternative therapies offers promise in helping victims build self-esteem, empowerment, and re-connection with themselves and society.” Emotional support, therapy, safe houses and medical assistance are a few priorities for victims.
A few places to start: The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (1-888-373-7888) provide extraordinary resources, such as safe houses, immediate care/medical assistance, schooling, training, life skills and legal aid. If you are responsible and/or caring for a victim, Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAST) has developed curriculum and materials for caregivers. The Polaris Project focuses on victims and restoring their freedom
The HSE Women’s Health Project acts as a central referral agency for all victims, male and female, of human trafficking and offers comprehensive care planning and sexual health screening. Also, Ruhama is a national NGO that works with women post sexual exploitation. While sex trafficking largely affects women, 30% of human trafficking involves men, especially for labor exploitation. The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) is one organization that offers protection and assistance for those who have been exploited for labor.
And of course, we – Guardian Group – are “Bringing the Full Fight to Human Trafficking” by providing numerous resources and programs. Help us stop human trafficking, learn more about the Guardian Seal® Training.