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The Effects of Sex Trafficking Pt 1: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

When it comes to the fight against sex trafficking, helping victims to escape is

always one of the highest goals along with preventative measures to keep it from ever

happening. Those two goals focus on stopping trafficking before it starts and once it has

started, and oftentimes, what to do after victims escape becomes an afterthought only

realized once arriving in that predicament. A greater understanding of the affects of

human trafficking are needed in order to better understand how to serve the survivors

we so desperately desire to see rescued, healed, and whole. In the same way that we

try to get ahead of sex trafficking with preventative measures like raising awareness of

what to look out for, we want to take preventative measures to provide survivors with

the resources they need to live independently in order to keep them from returning to

trafficking as a way to survive and provide for themself.

One effect of sex trafficking that no survivor escapes, is mental trauma. Human

trafficking is modern-day slavery. The victims are bought, sold, beaten, and used, this

has a harrowing effect on the human psyche. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is

something that survivors must be treated for, some of the ways PTSD shows up in their

day to day lives include nightmares, flashbacks, memory loss, and severe emotional

distress or physical reactions to anything that reminds them of their imprisonment.

Counselors, caseworkers, and anyone else working closely with trafficked survivors

should be trained specifically to understand the unique needs that such traumatic

experiences demand.

Another aspect of post-traumatic stress disorder that every trafficked person is

exposed to is physical trauma. To be a victim of sex trafficking is to be a victim of

molestation, a victim of rape, and almost always, if not always, a victim of physical

violence and abuse. These victims run a high risk of contracting sexually transmitted

diseases (STDs) and receive very little if any, medical care. Close and meaningful relationships, even when desired by the survivor, can prove to be quite a challenge and triggering a source of distress. A constant awareness of how abused the survivor’s

physical boundaries have been, is required from the doctors needing to give an exam

just as much as it is by old friends and family wanting to embrace their loved one.

Only when we understand the trauma of what these victims have experienced at

the hands of human traffickers, can we understand and anticipate the needs of the

survivors. By identifying the ways that PTSD shows up post trafficking, we are more

confident in how to interact with survivors in a manner that helps contribute to their

healing which is the ultimate goal.

Dahlias Hope is one of the complete after-care organizations that we support through fashion. They provide clinical and psychotherapy as well as medical resources, recreation therapy, education, life skills, and vocational training. 20% of all proceeds from Valor (dark) supports their mission.


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