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Demystifying Human Trafficking

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felicity
Felicity Lee
Felicity Lee

Demystifying Human Trafficking

Post by felicity on 4/3/2018, 1:57 pm

Demystifying Human Trafficking





“What the heck does human trafficking have to do with trauma-informed care – or me, for that matter?”  

I have heard this questions asked again and again, not only by mental-health professionals but also, by trauma survivors who were victims of human traffickers.  

For me, the answer had always been, “Nothing!” I saw no need to even attend to all of the hoopla about human trafficking. Yes, I did know that it was a huge problem:

“Trafficking women and children for sexual exploitation is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. This, despite the fact international law and the laws of 158 countries criminalize most forms of trafficking. Sex trafficking is a lucrative industry making an estimated $99 billion a year. At least 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labor and bonded labor. About 2 million children are exploited every year in the global commercial sex trade. 54% of trafficking victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation. Women and girls make up 96% of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation” (https://www.equalitynow.org/sex-trafficking-fact-sheet).

Despite my awareness of this situation, I had always assumed that human traffickers were hidden bad-guys who gathered victims and transported them to different countries where they were sold or forced to work as slaves.

Ultimately, my ignorance about human trafficking came to light about six months ago when I was planning a conference on trauma. The conference was designed to increased awareness for survivors, professionals, and supporters. One of the speakers arranged a human trafficking panel, which included trauma survivors, a therapist, and law-enforcement officer. As I watched the panel-members interact, my worldview began to unravel. I concluded that human traffickers are the perpetrators of nearly all trauma that victims have endured. These abusers are not hidden bad-guys, but anyone who exploits, deceives, or coerces for the purpose of profiting or benefitting. It has nothing to do with ‘movement’, but everything to do with exploiting and/or selling victims.

"Trafficking in persons" shall mean the recruitment, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery” ( Palermo Protocol). ‘Trafficking’, means trade - not movement.

Clearly, this law defines the act of human trafficking, but fails to clarify how to identify victims, survivors, or perpetrators of human trafficking. Without education and awareness about trauma and symptoms of trauma, perpetrators continue profiting and victims/survivors remain misunderstood. Below is a real-example:

Izabel is forty-three years old. Until a couple of years ago, she was unaware that trauma-symptoms were causing her difficulty in functioning. In fact, she is a college graduate, a successful nurse, and loving parent of two children. She began seeing a therapist when the stresses of everyday life became so overwhelming that she was no longer able to cope or function at all. She presented with an array of symptoms and conditions including: dissociative disorder, post-traumatic disorder (PTSD), self-injury, suicidal ideation, eating disorder, depression, isolation, relationship problems, etc.

Izabel’s therapist began treatment with the goal of discovering past trauma that could be causing all of her symptoms.  At first, Izabel remembered her childhood as uneventful. Her parents were professionals - her father a medical doctor, and her mother a dentist. Within a couple of weeks, the therapist began the work of ‘processing memories’.  Izabel remembered early school-life as a good time where she felt safe. Her grades were impeccable as was her behavior. She did remember one teacher asking her about welts and bruises that she had not noticed until they were pointed out. That day, she panicked and ran from the school. As she told the therapist about this school memory, she felt the familiar fear, helplessness, and hopelessness that always preceded her practice of self-injury.

During one session, she told the therapist about when she was a teen and got lost in the city. She remembered that a police officer took her to a nearby hospital where the staff treated cuts and bruises, and called her parents to take her home. She remember wanting to stay with the police or at the hospital, to tell them – what? She could not recall, but while sharing with the therapist, she felt sad, lost, ashamed, and rejected.

Therapy sessions have included intense memory work to help Izabel process traumatic incidents of torture, rape, and emotional abuse. Although she has undergone therapy for two years, she has not shown signs of improvement. She is depressed, isolated, and overwhelmed with fear and paranoia - terrified that past abusers will find and punish her for ‘telling’. She has attempted suicide many times, practices self-injury, and reenacts past abuse of a ritual nature. She punishes herself every time she thinks about her past abusive situations. She has been hospitalized multiple times for her own safety. Both the therapist and she now believe that she was ritually abused and programmed by organized perpetrators whom she has been unable to identify.


As is common with many survivors and victims, Izabel is not only reluctant, but also seemingly unable to identify her abusers for several reasons: shame, fear, insufficient information, etc. In her case, her parents accepted money in return for them making her available to perpetrators who abused and sold her from the time she was two-years-old. Though, she does recall going to stay with a family friend, she does not recall any abuse happening there. She does recall her parents accepting large amounts of money from this ‘family friend’. The police, hospital staff, her teacher, and a trained therapist had a chance to help her, but never thought to ask about the actual perpetrators – her parents. Though they didn’t perpetrate the actual abuse, they were guilty of trafficking, because they SOLD her!!

Essentially, this is a common mistake, made out of ignorance about human trafficking. Firstly, it is common for traffickers to make children available for profit, but never carry out any abuse themselves. Secondly, trauma perpetrated by traffickers cannot be quantified or separated into ‘types’ of abuse or symptoms/behaviors of the victim or survivor, because perpetrators utilize an array of abuses in order to control their victims. The training that traffickers perpetrate on their victims is extensive and effectively alters victims’ core-beliefs and sense of self from an early age. Victims learn that their safety is directly dependent on their loyalty to perpetrators who threaten their life in order to keep them from telling. Victims learn from abusers that their worth as a person is dependent on serving and pleasing adults rather than fulfilling personal needs - a common theme among most survivors and victims of abuse.

Because human trafficking is directly relating to childhood-trauma, education and awareness of the implications of human trafficking are imperative in order to understand symptoms, conditions, and the best courses of treatment.



The above diagram demonstrates the complex nature of human trafficking that creates confusion for providers, survivors, and victims.  Realizing that nearly all abuse-trauma is perpetrated by human traffickers (see definition), everyone can work together for the common goal of not only identifying and prosecuting traffickers, but also rendering respect, support, and mental health resources for survivors and victims of abuse.  

Recently, Izabel’s therapist decided to attend a conference where folks from all walks of life gathered to talk about human trafficking in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of how to identify and work together effectively. She sat through two days of workshops and plenaries as well as interacting with attendees and speakers. Survivors spoke of their experiences, and professionals presented workshops. She learned why trauma-informed care is important when working with clients. Mostly, she came away realizing that Izabel cannot move forward in therapy until she accepts who perpetrated the abuse. It was not some unidentified bad-guy hidden in the shadows of organized crime, but rather, someone she knew – her own parents.

Following the conference, Izabel’s therapist planned to begin a more trauma-informed approach. She would ask Izabel about her parents and their relationship to this family friend. She realized that upcoming sessions would be difficult for Izabel, but also knew that she would be there to support her – something Izabel had always deserved – to finally feel safe and free from the guilt and shame that had always plagued her life.

©️ Patricia Goodwin, MA 2018

Do not copy or distribute without permission from author.


2018 Conference - Trauma and Trafficking: Comprehending the Complexity of Trafficking as Trauma



     

Don't miss the Ivory Garden Conference this year!!

https://igdid.org
Who is Ivory Garden Nonprofit Corporation?

https://ivorygardensite.com/

Contact Pat Goodwin, MA
President: Ivory Garden Nonprofit Corporation

felicity4us2@gmail.com
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Confused1
100+ Posts
100+ Posts

Re: Demystifying Human Trafficking

Post by Confused1 on 4/3/2018, 7:16 pm

In our day it was not considered human trafficking. I don't feel I belonged or have any knowledge of this, however I was sold at times from family members and friends of the foo. I also have the symptoms on the chart you have posted. I just considered human trafficking as selling humans like they would slaves, there for you would never see your foo or friends ever again. Guess this way of thinking sounds kind of stupid.

brokenoak
Less than 100 posts
Less than 100 posts

Re: Demystifying Human Trafficking

Post by brokenoak on 4/3/2018, 7:50 pm

I too am astounded. I never considered that the money and alcohol exchanged for me was anything with a name. It is a bit overwhelming to even consider that it IS this. This was well written and compelling.

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felicity
Felicity Lee
Felicity Lee

Re: Demystifying Human Trafficking

Post by felicity on 4/4/2018, 9:30 am

Why thank you. The concept of human trafficking is so simple, yet so complex, because of misconceptions held by so many - particularly in trauma survivor circles.

It is so difficult to accept. No one wants to accept that they were simply merchandise used to benefit others. Yet, many survivors do accept that is how they felt or still feel. Amazingly, nearly every survivor can remember clearly who benefited or continues to benefit from their abuse. And, this is what is most important - right?

On February 14, 2002, the Polaris Project was founded. The definition of HT has been the same since then and before.

The confusion happens, I think, because the definition is all about the perpetrator - the crime - rather than the trauma and affects on survivor/victim. Just because you don't have enough evidence to charge the perpetrator with human trafficking crimes, does not mean that you did not experience HT and/or the horrible affects of the crime.

What has captured my attention is that trauma-folks seem to be divided in different 'camps' - but, they share similar stories and symptoms of trauma - all related to being 'used', 'sold', etc. If you are around HT camps of thought, they share the same stories, that say other 'groups' of trauma survivors share. The only difference was that they escaped actual situations where their perpetrators were charged for the crime. And, how is it that so many survivors seem to struggle with similar symptoms as well as reporting so many types of abuse happening to them?

So, it is not the questions of what we 'call it', it is a fact - exploiting anyone for the purpose of personally benefiting is not only illegal, but severely traumatizes the victim or survivor. Some literature does list HT as 'abuse', but many don't.

Why is this so vitally important? Imho, right now, HT victims and survivors have little access to resources or support. Survivors miss the boat when they believe that they have nothing in common with HT survivors and victims. And, some professionals - those who are already experts in 'trauma' - tend to believe that they need to be experts in the area of HT in order to treat HT victims/survivors. These are misconceptions that tend to further complicate HT. What if someone just says, "I was sold by my parents." or whoever - right? We can immediately relate to that - and, say to ourself, "Wow, the affects of being sold by a caregiver? That explains a lot."

I am hoping that this clarifies a bit. For the past couple of decades, I have stated that everyone needs to work together - and, again - I will say, "Everyone needs to be on the same page and working together when it comes to 'trauma-care'.

Yes, there are plenty of people searching down traffickers and arresting them, etc. But, what exactly does anyone think happens to the victims and survivors? They don't have the money to buy a computer and get online to find out what 'type' of abuse they suffered. Most are lucky to find a life away from their traffickers (often called 'handlers'), and end up returning in order to survive. They aren't going to join fb groups or tell their stories. Most have no idea that there are resources or even that there are other survivors who can relate to them. They live in fear that their abusers will 'come get them' - their self-esteem is such that they know no other way to live, but to 'sell' themselves (however they can) to survive. They share the shame and guilt of all survivors who have been treated as merchandise. They do not choose this life - any more than other survivors/victims did. And, we cannot judge them as being any different than us. We are all the same - we have been used, abused, and those who did it walk free to do it again and again - because most of us are too ashamed to accept what really happened.

That is my opinion based on my experience of the past 60 years.

I am not an advocate for locking away all human traffickers, but as always, an advocate for all survivors of trauma and abuse - as well as those who support and treat survivors. I have concluded that we are all sisters and brothers - strong and empathetic - able to shine a light on each other and ourself.



     

Don't miss the Ivory Garden Conference this year!!

https://igdid.org
Who is Ivory Garden Nonprofit Corporation?

https://ivorygardensite.com/

Contact Pat Goodwin, MA
President: Ivory Garden Nonprofit Corporation

felicity4us2@gmail.com
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krathyn
krathyn
krathyn

Re: Demystifying Human Trafficking

Post by krathyn on 4/4/2018, 4:01 pm

thank you Felicity. That was beautifully written and well said.
we do all need to work together to have a solidarity with our siblings who have had similar experiences.



wishing you well-
Krathyn, Sebastian, Strawberry, (6 Little Kathies), kathrynmarie
Krathyn of We5:    we accept all intentions of support--





krathyn148@gmail.com
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felicity
Felicity Lee
Felicity Lee

Re: Demystifying Human Trafficking

Post by felicity on 4/5/2018, 1:23 pm

Well, and working together with differing paradigms within 'trauma-based' communities.

For instance, DID, SRA/MC, therapists, teachers, supporters, etc. all share so much - yet conform to separate paradigms - which is totally fine, but this can create separateness where they get so hung up on their own thing, they forget how much they have in common.

And, I can't say that this is true of everyone - of course - because IG works with all sorts of ppl whose only purpose it to heal, support, educate, and bring awareness - right? I so love working with these folks and seeing them here - what a blessing.



     

Don't miss the Ivory Garden Conference this year!!

https://igdid.org
Who is Ivory Garden Nonprofit Corporation?

https://ivorygardensite.com/

Contact Pat Goodwin, MA
President: Ivory Garden Nonprofit Corporation

felicity4us2@gmail.com
avatar
krathyn
krathyn
krathyn

Re: Demystifying Human Trafficking

Post by krathyn on 4/9/2018, 8:13 pm

we all need to work together for the good of Everybody!



wishing you well-
Krathyn, Sebastian, Strawberry, (6 Little Kathies), kathrynmarie
Krathyn of We5:    we accept all intentions of support--





krathyn148@gmail.com
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Dymond
100+ Posts
100+ Posts

Re: Demystifying Human Trafficking

Post by Dymond on 4/10/2018, 9:01 am

Outstanding share! I love the symptom graphic and gosh, does this paint a really accurate portrait for my own journey.
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felicity
Felicity Lee
Felicity Lee

Re: Demystifying Human Trafficking

Post by felicity on 4/10/2018, 12:42 pm

I agree - mine also -

I think this makes for great discussion - which we will also get into at the conference as we did at the last conference.

For instance, having DID is so common for traffic survivors, but they rarely mention it as important. I think they struggle more with being stigmatized (or fear of being judged) than other trauma survivors, because they accept and often admit that perpetrators not only abused them, but also exploited them against their will. I can relate to this - it is much easier to talk about our 'condition' than how we feel about ourself or how others might view us as 'traffic survivors'.

I admire human traffic survivors who have the courage to tell their story - it is a vulnerable place to be. They share what happened, how they feel, and how they work toward healing, etc - rather than talking about their condition and/or advocating for acceptance of their condition (DID, PTSD, etc).

I also understand that accepting what really happened comes with time and healing. But, it also frees survivors to love themselves. Jmho. I would love to open up discussion about this - because, I am not the only one who has opinions.



     

Don't miss the Ivory Garden Conference this year!!

https://igdid.org
Who is Ivory Garden Nonprofit Corporation?

https://ivorygardensite.com/

Contact Pat Goodwin, MA
President: Ivory Garden Nonprofit Corporation

felicity4us2@gmail.com
avatar
krathyn
krathyn
krathyn

Re: Demystifying Human Trafficking

Post by krathyn on 4/11/2018, 9:58 am

from the age of 9 mos to the age of 11 we were used in child porn by our foo f.
he became seriously ill and died and many things stopped.
interesting, and i think this is related. would like to post more in the private forum



wishing you well-
Krathyn, Sebastian, Strawberry, (6 Little Kathies), kathrynmarie
Krathyn of We5:    we accept all intentions of support--





krathyn148@gmail.com
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felicity
Felicity Lee
Felicity Lee

Re: Demystifying Human Trafficking

Post by felicity on 4/11/2018, 10:55 am

Oh, yeah - we should start a private thread - I like that also.

It is a difficult topic to talk about openly - I totally agree.

I think that was what I was getting to also. And, I think it is also relevant to therapists. Can they go beyond all of the symptoms and conditions (dx's), etc. to really 'get' that being sold, exploited - essentially HT'd - drastically influences how survivors relate to themselves and how they interact within relationships. Feeling 'unworthy' and dependent on others to define our needs really is a horrible place to live. And, many therapists really do miss this simple concept. I often wonder if it really is too emotional for them to handle - also - I am unsure. Even the public seems unable to wrap their head around accepting the statistics of how many ppl are sold/exploited every single day. And, those are only reported cases.

So - yeah - I see this as a huge problem and the reason that many survivors/victims get 'stuck' unable to see a path toward healing. And, MANY find themselves being exploited over and over again without even realizing it.

So, let's begin a private thread here.



     

Don't miss the Ivory Garden Conference this year!!

https://igdid.org
Who is Ivory Garden Nonprofit Corporation?

https://ivorygardensite.com/

Contact Pat Goodwin, MA
President: Ivory Garden Nonprofit Corporation

felicity4us2@gmail.com
avatar
krathyn
krathyn
krathyn

Re: Demystifying Human Trafficking

Post by krathyn on 4/11/2018, 12:59 pm

will be there soon.



wishing you well-
Krathyn, Sebastian, Strawberry, (6 Little Kathies), kathrynmarie
Krathyn of We5:    we accept all intentions of support--





krathyn148@gmail.com
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