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PTSD in females who have gone throughModern day slavery

BY STEPHANIE SOWAHA

How is Modern-day slavery still a significant issue and impact in this society? In the last decade, we have seen the female movement grow, impacting many women to stand firm together, allowing them to build a voice for themselves while creating a feminist movement. However, somewhere between equality and unfair trade, females struggle to gain complete freedom currently. As reported by the End Slavery Today organization, an estimated 21 million to 45 million people are trapped in some sort of modern-day slavery. "Human Trafficking" is another term used to define this horrendous act, either way, it is slavery at its core. As explained by the United Nations, individuals who are victims of human trafficking will end up in one of the following forms: Domestic servitude, Sex trafficking, forced labour, bonded labour, child labour or forced marriage.

 

Stephanie is a London based psychologist, an associate of the British Psychologist Society.   Worked for the NHS treating and helping clients with psychosis, schizophrenia, and PTSD.   She is now completing her masters in Mental health and will Continue to finish her studies in counselling.  

The international labour office (ILO) recorded 11.4 million women and girls trapped in one of the above forms of human trafficking. Trafficking is a local and global issue; many victims are trafficking inside their own country or neighbouring countries. 70% of females and girls are globally trafficked, 49% of which are women and 21% of girls, demonstrating many female victims are adults. ILO discussed that sexual exploitation is the primary purpose of human trafficking, 97% of them being females. It can take different forms: visible ones, street prostitution or operating brothels or private homes. Public venues such as strip clubs and massage parlours are other forms of sexual exploitation. Violence is a powerful tool used by the traffickers to control their victims, and sometimes victims are raped and drugged to prevent them from escaping. 

 

Females who experience human trafficking, especially sex trafficking, will be tragically impacted mentally and physically, mainly causing them trauma. Psychologists who researched and worked with females victimized in sexual exploitation explain that they often experience extreme reactions because of the trauma they endured during their captivity. These reactions are often diagnosed as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 

 

Like many other people who have PTSD, human-trafficking survivors may experience one or all the following symptoms: intrusive memories, flashbacks and nightmares, physiological reactions to stimuli that trigger memories, detachment and loss of trust, pessimistic thinking and behaviour, memory loss, anger, guilt or shame, hyper-vigilance, insomnia, feeling detached from reality, reckless or self-destructive behaviour, problems with concentration, depression, and more.

 

Due to PTSD symptoms, victims have a low life expectancy; as their health deteriorates quicker, some individuals may result with physical body pain, causing them pain in different parts of their body, and in due course can be diagnosed with fibromyalgia. There is a high rate of Suicide as females with PTSD cannot deal having to face their traumas and don’t end up seeking professional help. 

 



As a result of PTSD symptoms, most females can make bad relationship choices, entering one toxic relationship after another. Many victims end up with an abusive partner, controlling them, not letting them leave the relationship and inflicting domestic abuse upon their partner. They normally assure to seclude their victim until they have no friends or someone to turn to for help, making them the hero and abuser at the same time. Some sexually exploited victims end up dating their capturers and become accomplices, helping them recruit and lure young girls into sexual exploitation. After the trauma the females they believe it is the correct action to sexual exploits other girls to obtain a happy relationship with their capturer. 

 

It has been showcased how PTSD can physically change the method of how the brain functions; it affects the communication between the amygdala and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex breaks down, allowing the amygdala to continue "running wild", meaning the victims will mainly experience flight and fight mode. Therefore, victims will at times have erratic behaviours which can affect their family setting, can have an impact in their work performance and issues with colleagues etc.

 

 

It is possible to successfully treat PTSD with psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprogramming (EMDR). Those are the two most common therapists used to help individuals with PTSD. Some are done in a group setting to start the therapy sessions so the victim does not feel pressured to share their story and can slowly integrate themselves into a therapy setting. Everyone is different in healing; therefore, not one therapy type fits all; some may decide to avoid the clinical method and go for the holistic approach. Holistic methods can include message therapy helping reduce stress and promote overall health and wellness, Acupuncture, yoga, and meditation. Mixing the clinical and holistic approach can also help, as it gives the client more options to discover what works for them in their healing journey. No matter how many years after the traumatic event occurred it is never too late to seek help and start the healing journey. It can take years to heal, and some may never heal completely but can function at a better level.


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