When a survivor of slavery is finally freed, the wounds of forced service do not heal immediately. The aftermath of a survivor’s life can contain mental, physical, and spiritual trauma. There is a dearth of services and often times service providers must choose between legal and helping professional services.
Below is a list of the psychological services that need to be established to effectively reintegrated victims back into society. Helping professionals have a duty to serve. How can one serve if one does not know what needs to be done? The list below is provided by the 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report from the US State Department.
Take a moment to familiarize yourself with some of what is necessary to reinstate psychological well being for trafficking survivors.
First a survivor needs a dependable safety network that she/he can gain access to ensure that all of her/his basic needs are met.
They need the assurance of privacy and confidentiality for self-protection and for the protection their families.
A supportive team of medical experts, social workers, and psychologists who are trained in human trafficking and can provide trauma-specific therapy is essential.
The need could also be physical and that needs to be considered in addition to psychological trauma.
There is a need to establish a collaborative therapeutic environment that is culturally sensitive.
Service providers need to foster an empowering environment in which victims can be active participants and consumers of therapy and other services.
Survivors need to be assessed for suicidal and self-injurious behavior.
Reliable and valid screenings need to be developed that measure post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse/dependence, depression, and anxiety.
Provide unconditional support, especially amidst victims’ potential denial, distrust, reticence, shame, or anger.
Working towards social and familial reintegration. Rebuilding identity and reestablishing skill-sets, self-esteem, and personal interests.
The list may be long, but through collaboration and dedication the helping professional community can come together and make a difference in lives of those rescued each year. Globally, of the millions of slaves, only a small percentage is identified as victims. For example, in 2011 42,291 victims of slavery were identified, 7,909 sought prosecution of the slave owner, and 3,969 slave owners were convicted. There is a lot of work to do and the time to start building the infrastructure to help is now.