By David H. Nguyen, Ph.D.
This blog post contains excerpts from an article entitled “Survivors offer insight to federal anti-trafficking efforts,” which was written by Holly Smith for Communities Digital News (1).
Holly Smith, a survivor of human trafficking, quotes other trafficking survivors about their healthcare needs during and after their enslavement. Smith wrote this article in light of the “Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States,” which can be downloaded (2).
Cancer InCytes magazine has published articles by two trafficking survivors who shared about their health problems during and after their ordeal — Barbara Amaya (3) and Chong Kim (4). These articles were meant to stimulate more research into the healthcare needs of trafficking victims, since trafficking has become a public health problem. Cancer InCytes will soon publish articles that discuss the direct link between childhood trauma and the risk for developing cancer later in life. Stay tuned.
Excerpts from the Smith article:
One very important need for both short and long-term care is quality trauma-informed psychotherapy. Victims deserve to have a legal right to these services. Receiving such services from a counselor who has the training and understanding of trauma and its complexities can make all the difference in the world to a survivor’s process of healing. – Margeaux Gray
They can present with repeated STDs; repeated genital and oral infections; repeated, persistent bruising; signs of major depression. Also, it’s normal for victims to not answer or be honest in response to questions from healthcare professionals. Many victims are coached by their trafficker on what to say if asked any questions regarding their illnesses and injuries. They are also threatened on what would happen if they answer in any way other than what they are coached to say. – Margeaux Gray
Many survivors require medical care during their exploitation. Some reasons for first engagement may include: broken or fractured bones, physical signs of abuse, dehydration and exhaustion, pregnancy resulting sometimes in abortion or miscarriage, signs of forced miscarriage (e.g. beating, “falling,” “car accident,” etc.), STDs and routine STD checks, and feminine hygiene products (e.g. a tampon) being forced in a position where the woman is unable to retrieve. The last sign is due to the fact that most [victims of sex trafficking] are forced to work during menstruation. – Rebecca Bender
David H. Nguyen, Ph.D., is Editor-in-Chief of Cancer InCytes magazine. He studies the biological processes that link childhood trauma with the risk for developing cancer later in life.
1. Holly Smith. “Survivors offer insight to federal anti-trafficking efforts.” Communities Digital News. February 15, 2014. Accessed on 02/19/2014.
2. “Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States.”
3. Barbara Amaya. “Twice as Strong.” Cancer InCytes, Volume 2, Issue 2, 2013.
4. Chong Kim. “Neither Height nor Depth, nor hot, nor Cold.” Cancer InCytes, Volume 2, Issue 2, 2013.
The Health Problems That Face Sex Trafficking Victims and Survivors was originally published @ Cancer inCYTES Blog and has been syndicated with permission.
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