The Mental Health Consequences of Human Trafficking

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Human Trafficking
Robert Gordon, Lanisha Griffin, Lucette Lemesh, Jessica Stewart, Tanya Castello BSHS 302
06/20/2011
Bejai Higgins

There are many negative effects on the mental health of victims of human trafficking. Human trafficking is one of the most demoralizing acts that are committed on a human being. Victims of this heinous crime are made to feel as though they are not worthy of decency, respect, or love. When a victim of human trafficking is rescued and seeks out services, first responders usually note that the victims are found to be suffering from several types of mental health problems. “Victims of human trafficking may suffer from anxiety, panic disorder, major depression, substance abuse, and eating disorders as well as a combination of these.  For some victims, the trauma induced by someone they once trusted results in pervasive mistrust of others and their motives” (Clawson, Salomon, & Goldblatt Grace, 2008). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, as it is called, is one of the most serious of the problems that arise in victims of human trafficking. PTSD can have serious debilitating consequences in the victim making them unable to move forward with their lives. Victims also suffer from many physical ailments that were caused by abuse they received from their abuser, or they develop new health problems that result from unresolved mental health problems. The mental health issues that are found in victims can be very serious and need to be treated by professionals. Many of the victims choose not to seek help because of shame, fear, and lack of resources. “We can’t address issues of employment, life skills, or anything else until we address the trauma” (Clawson, Salomon, & Goldblatt Grace, 2008). Victims have to seek help and treat their mental health issues if they want to move forward and have a productive life. Human trafficking does not care what age a person is or the gender of that person. The only thing that a buyer or a seller cares about is if the person can make money or provide the services that were promised to them. When one looks at human trafficking there are a few things that a person needs to look at to be able to understand it better. If a person looks at the statistics of the age and gender one would be surprised at what they would find. One type of human trafficking is the forced labor that they are put in. It has been found that 56% of forced labor is made up of woman and girls and 44% are made up of men and boys (Hepburn & Simon, 2010). If a person would count all the victims in that part of the human trafficking ring then one would see that 12.3 million of those are part of forced labor which makes up about 32% (Hepburn & Simon, 2010). One must remember that out of these numbers 40-50% of the population is children that are brought to the United States as forced laborers (Hepburn & Simon, 2010). One example of forced labor happened in the United States right after a Hurricane Katrina. Two months after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans about 1,383 Thai nationalists were brought over with promise of work. When they arrived they were put to work in the damaged buildings that still did not have electricity or any running water. These are the same buildings that they were told to live in. When they cooked the food that they could catch they ended up using contaminated water. There were times that they had to place traps for pigeons so that they would have food to eat (Hepburn & Simon, 2010). By the time the state department and the human service workers stepped in they had a total of nine cases against the traffickers (Hepburn & Simon, 2010). One might wonder why a person would stay in a situation like this. The traffickers end up using coercive tactics so that the person does not leave. If the person is from another country then most likely they do not know the language and they are unable to communicate with other people. The victims are...
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