Effects of PTSD on Trafficking Survivors
What is PTSD?
Individuals who have been victimized in the sex industry often experience severe reactions as a result of the trauma they endured during their captivity. These reactions are often diagnosed as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
How it Occurs
Survivors of sex trafficking will often suffer with PTSD due to experiencing overwhelming, frightening, or horrifying life experiences. Victims are typically exposed to multiple traumatic experiences, including verbal, psychological and physical abuse, enforced physical and emotional isolation, lack of basic human necessities, threats, physical and sexual assaults, and violence. They may also witness others being assaulted. Threatening to harm friends and family is another way trafficker’s pressure their victims into continued prostitution.
As human trafficking moves toward the forefront of our national and local news, many mental health professionals are learning that trafficking victims require specific and focused treatment for the debilitating PTSD that inevitably affects them once they’re rescued from their traffickers.
Effect on Survivors
Like many other people who suffer from PTSD, human-trafficking survivors may experience one or all of the following symptoms: intrusive memories, flashbacks and nightmares, physiological reactions to stimuli that triggers memories, detachment and loss of trust, pessimistic thinking and/or behavior, memory loss, anger, guilt or shame, hyper-vigilance, insomnia, feeling detached from reality, reckless or self-destructive behavior, problems with concentration, depression, and more. From the mouth of a survivor, PTSD to them is like “a nightmare that you can’t get out of.” It causes “an inability to move forward in your life.” It creates a “feeling of constant danger based on past difficulties reoccurring in the here and now.” PTSD effects every single area of these survivors’ lives and will not end anytime soon.
How We Help!
North Star Initiative provides nurturing, comprehensive mental health therapies and treatments for the women at The Harbor. We are grateful for the many caring and supportive mental health professionals who are currently serving our residents. As the resident’s work through these individualized counseling sessions and treatments, the prognosis for healing and recovery greatly increases.
We invite you to be part of this healing process through welcomed donations and prayer. We value your partnership!