Identifying Child Victims of Sex Trafficking

Child victims of human trafficking experience significant medical and psychological needs that have to be addressed before they ever begin to lead productive lives. Among the clues to these needs are:

• Child victims of trafficking are often malnourished to the extent that they may never reach their full height, may have poorly formed or rotting teeth, and later may experience reproductive problems.

• The psychological effects of torture are helplessness, shame and humiliation, shock, denial and disbelief, disorientation and confusion, and anxiety disorders including post traumatic stress disorder, phobias, panic attacks and depression.

• Where the child is living, living with multiple people in a cramped space, and attending school sporadically or not at all.

• Victims may experience Traumatic Bonding (Stockholm syndrome) a form of coercive control in which the perpetrator instills in the victim fear as well as gratitude for being allowed to live or for any other perceived favors, however small.

• Traffickers of children sometimes condition their victims to refer to them by family names like Daddy, and to refer to the other women who are also being trafficked as their wife-in-laws.

We have to recognize the multi-faceted mental and physical problems that victims of human sex trafficking suffer in order to identify them and to help them on their journey to leading healthy lives.

Learn more at Barbara Amaya’s Washington Times article: Mental and physical signs help identify victims of sex trafficking.

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