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.
Team 2: Service Scholars