Sex Trafficking #2: The Psychology

Sex Trafficking #2: The Psychology

Debbie was 15 when she was abducted from her Phoenix home late one night. Four men took her to an apartment from her home 25 miles away and continually raped and abused her. She spent days and days in a dog kennel, where her kidnappers forced her to eat dog biscuits and have sex with any man who came to the apartment. Unfortunately, this is a situation more than 2 million women and children find themselves in around the world annually.

Sex trafficking has had a tremendous affect on the field of psychology because of its prominence in the world today. Psychologists are attempting to understand all of the symptoms the victims face to help give governments help in implementing reintegration policies. The extensive list of psychological effects of sex trafficking includes such symptoms as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), personality disorders, severe depression, suicide, insomnia, self-loathing, and fear of men. Another symptom occasionally arises called Stockholm Syndrome, in which victims are paradoxically afraid of their captors yet also grateful and attached to them for allowing them to live.

Substance abuse is also a growing problem, because women and children are sometimes forced to drink alcohol in order to calm them, or they drink excessive amounts of alcohol voluntarily so that they are able to suffer through the various sex acts without being too aware. These abundance of symptoms and issues that victims face make it necessary for psychologists to be available to both them and the government, in order to aid with rehabilitation. Psychological help for victims is the top priority in helping victims reintegrate into society.

The United States is probably the best country today to offer psychologists to sex trafficking victims. The problem in countries around the world is the lack of education and funding in the health care system. Some countries, such as Thailand, are unable to have an abundance of counselors available because their health care systems are suffering for money. Their psychologists are not as well equipped  – they only have undergraduate degrees, a degree which in the United States would not allow a psychologist to practice. However, Thailand does offer their victims a choice of around 6 shelters, where they are taught the basic of home-making, like sewing and cooking, which they hope to help integrate them back into Thai society. But these women need more than basic skills – they need deep psychological and emotional healing to ever be able to go back to their lives.

Countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Austria, and Burma have definitive policies to utilize psychologists in helping to heal victims. But many poverty-stricken countries around the world are lacking any kind of re-integration policies. Victims not only need face-to-face counseling, but also in many cases medication, to help with depression or insomnia. Many nations around the world don’t have the funding to help these abused women and children.

Raising awareness for human trafficking is the main way to encourage nations around the world to prioritize and look for ways to help victims psychologically. Psychological needs are the top priority in integrating victims, and without funding from the government, they become nearly impossible to meet.

A young girl in front of a brothel in Cambodia.


Jenny Combs

Team 2: Service Scholars

Alabaster, Alabama

About the author

Jenny Combs Jenny Combs, 16, Evangel Classical Christian School, Alabaster, AL - East Villagers has given me the opportunity to see that community service and volunteerism isn’t just about others – it has shown me more about myself than I ever would have imagined. The Service Scholar Intern position would allow me to partner with others on a worldwide scale, in addition to opening my eyes to humanitarian issues. I think that the internship will provide me with a great opportunity to expound upon my writing skills and ability to succeed under deadlines.

  1. I think the part about substance abuse is especially sad, to add alcohol and drugs to the abuse by men makes the whole cycle of abuse harder to leave

    • I very much agree! If the woman is able to make it out of the situation, she’d be in rehab for a really long time. Even though I don’t agree with turning to alcohol and drugs to solve my problems, I can see why they would want to – those kind of substances are around them all the time anyway.

  2. The picture you have of the girl is just a girl walking on the street. What makes you think she is a sex trafficking victim?

    If she walks past a brothel that doesn’t mean she is working there.

  3. While we all agree that children should not be having sex,
    and sex trafficking of children needs to be stopped.
    Anti-sex trafficking groups use the excuse of children to arrest consenting adults.
    When not finding any actual children involved, the police arrest consenting adults instead.

    Where are all the underage child victims? Why are the police just finding, and arresting consensual adults? Because the child victims either don’t exist or are very few in number. They use the excuse of children to arrest consenting adults. If they are just after children, they why don’t they leave the consenting adults alone? The police arrest the consenting adults – Why?
    If there is no children involved – why arrest the consenting adult prostitutes, johns, and pimps? They are no children involved? Because the police are after adult prostitutes, not children.

    Why aren’t the police finding millions of children forced against their will?
    Because their aren’t millions of them. Why did they just find 79 across the entire country? during the biggest investigation in history. Shouldn’t it be closer to 79 million? or 790,000? or 79,000? And what proof do they have that they were forced against their will?

    Whenever the government or media talk about child sex trafficking – they really mean Adult consensual prostitution. Child sex trafficking is extremely rare. So the police find and arrest ADULT consensual prostitutes instead. While not finding any Children, or very few. They use the excuse of Children – But, children are not involved in this adult activity. And if they are it is because they are homeless or runaways, and need cash of their own free will. Not victims of a epidemic of terrible crime gangs.

    Where are all the underage children kidnapped and forced against their will to have sex for profit by a pimp? How come we don’t see any of the victims themselves complaining about it? Why don’t the “millions of child victims” talk about how they were kidnapped and forced by a evil pimp to have sex for profit? I would like to have a interview with the “millions of forced against their will raped kidnapped child victims” So I could hear their stories. Where are they? Why do we only hear from the anti-prostitution groups that received money and grants from the government, and not the millions of victims themselves? If there are Millions of them, Shouldn’t the police and public know where they are, and shouldn’t we hear the millions of victims speak?

    Prostitutes are not forced! they do the work of their own free will.Sex trafficking is illegal and the penalties are very severe. It is very difficult to force someone to be a prostitute, they would have to have 24 hour guards posted and be watched 365 days a year, 24 hours per day. Have the threat of violence if they refused, and have no one notice and complain to the authorities or police. They would need to hide from the general public yet still manage to see customers from the general public and not have the customers turn the traffickers in to the police. They would need to provide them with medical care, food, shelter, and have all their basic needs met. They would need to have the sex slaves put on a fake front that they enjoyed what they were doing, act flirtatious and do their job well. They would have to deal with the authorities looking for the missing women, and hide any money they may make, since it comes from illegal activity. They must do all of this while constantly trying to prevent the sex slaves from escaping and reporting them to the police. They would need to prevent the general public from reporting them into the police. This is extremely difficult to do, which makes this activity rare. These criminals would be breaking dozens of major laws not just one. Kidnapping itself is a serious crime. There are many laws against sex trafficking, sex slavery, kidnapping, sex abuse, rape, sexual harassment etc. If someone is behind it, they will be breaking many serious laws, be in big trouble, and will go to jail for many long years. And do you actually think that there is a long line of people who want to have a career as a sex slave kidnapping pimp?

  4. If a prostitute is 17 and under the age of 18, she can not give legal consent. So, she could have wanted to be a prostitute, and given consent for sex, but since she is underage, she can not give legal consent, so legally she was “forced” even if she gives total consent to sex and it was consensual – she was “forced” according to the court and justice system. There is a BIG difference between being legally “forced” and truly being physically forced against someone’s will.

    This gives the impression that all prostitutes under the age of 18 are “forced” when they may in fact, not have been. If fact, if two people who are both 17 years old have sex, they both are legally considered to be victims and sex predators at the same time. It is strange how the justice system works.

    When the police arrest customers of prostitutes and the prostitutes themselves:
    They try to get the adult women prostitutes to say that they were forced and victims of sex trafficking even though they weren’t.
    These adult women just flat out say, ‘Nope, that’s not what’s happening.’ No one is forcing me”
    Then the U.S. Attorney general, senators, the police and government officials say:
    “We have to help them realize they are victims,”
    They must be brainwashed by their pimps, and johns.
    They say that adult women do not have the ability to make decisions for themselves about sex, therefore
    The government must make all their decisions about sex and who they have sex with for them.
    So… the police are trying to invent victims? Where no victim exist?
    The adult women say that no one is forcing them to work in prostitution and the police don’t believe them?
    So the police want these adult women to lie? and the police are forcing the women to lie about being forced?
    I thought lying was wrong? And isn’t it against the law to lie? -Not for the police, attorney general and other government officials.

  5. Dear Jenny,

    I am an Artist, and have drawn Debbie’s portrait because I was captivated by her story and wanted to share it with my followers. I have linked my post with this website to cultivate more awareness about sexual exploitation, a subject that I am tremendously moved by.
    To view the image please visit Nes.sea on Instagram or the Van Lee Artist page on Facebook.

    Thanks so much!
    God bless

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