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Human Trafficking and the Trauma It Leaves Behind Research Paper


Human trafficking is one of the oldest forms of trade in the world’s history. According to Snajdr (2013), in the United States, most of the Black immigrants who came to the country during the colonial era were actually victims of human trafficking. During that time, slave trade was a legal booming business in various parts of the world.

These immigrants were sent to work in the agricultural fields, industrial sector, or carry to out the domestic duties. However, the United States helped in championing for the abolition of slave trade. After years of struggle, slave trade became an illegal business.

Human trafficking became less common in the society as people started appreciating that no human being should be subjected to any form of slavery.

Walker (2011) says that human trafficking has remained a problem and the authorities in many countries are yet to find the most appropriate way of addressing it. Although it is illegal, the practitioners have found ways of trafficking people from one location to another for selfish interests.

Most of the victims of human trafficking in the current society are women. They are kidnapped and sent to various brothels within the United States to meet the sexual needs of the patrons. Some of the victims find themselves in the pornographic industry. Others are confined in homes to serve various needs of their patrons.

It is important to note that these women are forced into these vices against their wishes, where most of them are physically abused by their patrons. In this paper, the researcher will look at human trafficking and the trauma it leaves behind.

Understanding Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is taking a new form in the contemporary world where slave trade is an illegal business. Unlike in the past where men were the most preferred ‘commodity of trade’ because of the physical strength to work in the fields, in the modern society, women form the most valuable ‘commodity’ in this inhumane business.

Women from all over the world are kidnapped under various contexts, transported to the rich countries such as the United States or Europe, and forced into practices that they would otherwise avoid if given a choice. The adult entertainment industry has largely been blamed for fuelling this form of trade.

In many large hotels, the need for young models to serve various interests of the male patrons is on the rise. Many night clubs and brothels are full of young girls who have been forced into the industry against their own wishes.

They are kidnapped, taken to these institutions, and told to choose either to die or cooperate by serving the interests of their masters. According to Snajdr (2013), some of these patrons would subject the girls who refuse to cooperate to a lot of pain and sufferings to intimidate them and their friends so that they may do as instructed.

Many girls have died in the hands of their captors because of inhuman treatment. Those who accept the demands of their masters are not lucky either. Most of them are forced into relationships with people as old as, or even older than their parents.

In such circumstances, they are subjected to all sorts of pain as they meet the demands of these old men. It is important to note that some of these girls are as young as 14 or 15 years. These are young girls who have not had such relationships before. Some of them get sexually transmitted diseases while in the industry.

The unlucky are infected with human immunodeficiency virus.

According to a report by Anand and Gandhi (2008), the ordeal that these people go through is really bad. When these young girls get pregnant while in the hands of their captives, an eventuality that is very common, very crude methods are used to terminate the pregnancy.

In some strange cases, these young girls are forced to carry the pregnancy to term because of the reasons known only to their captors. Their masters are not concerned about the need to take care of such pregnant young girls. They do not get any prenatal care in their entire pregnancy period.

Once they given birth, in case they are lucky enough to have a successful birth, then the child is always taken away from their mother immediately to a place only known to these masters. The mother is given a short period to heal before getting back to the business.

Those who are unlucky die while giving birth due to various complications. Other victims of kidnapping find themselves in private homes serving the rich members of our society. In such homes, these girls are forced to undertake various house hold chores from morning to evening.

They are not allowed to get out of these big mansions. Sexual abuses are also common in such homes, especially for the ladies who find themselves serving the divorced or single men. They face constant physical abuses from the masters who are very demanding.

In the past, it was believed that the United States was the destination market in human trafficking business. Most of the victims came from other parts of the developing nations. However, this is no longer the case. According to Getu (2006), young girls are now facing the danger of being kidnapped and held hostage in their own countries.

Cases have been reported of girls who go missing while they go shopping. The traffickers are keen to identify the young ladies travelling alone. They entice them and lead them to destinations where they are finally taken captives. Others are hijacked while along the road.

This trend is becoming common in the country and it knows no social boundaries. Any attractive young lady is at risk of being kidnapped by these individuals, whether they come from poor or rich families.

Young girls from poor families have suffered the most because they do not have security details around them to offer them protection from these criminals. They are easy targets. The kidnapers also know that parents of such girls lack the financial capacity to hire private detectives to help in the investigations.

Although some of the girls still come from countries such as India, South America, Middle East and Africa, the local American girls are now at more risks than ever before. The kidnappers consider the American girls to be easy targets because they do not have to spend a lot of money in transportation.

Trauma of Human Trafficking

Human trafficking leaves behind trauma that may completely change the lives of the victims. As mentioned above, most of the victims of human trafficking are young girls below 18 years. They are always taken away from the society at an age when they are very hopeful in life.

When they disappear, their parents, friends and other family members are always subjected to a lot of trauma. Walker (2011) says that it is very painful for parents to realize that they have lost their children under very unclear circumstances.

When they realize that their children have become victims of human trafficking, they become stressful as they try to find a solution out of the situation. Some of them become seriously depressed, especially when it becomes clear that finding their children is almost impossible.

The victims themselves face a lot of trauma in their captivity. Those who are subjected to hard labor at various premises are always worried about how their masters will treat them. They suffer from beatings and physical abuses. For those who find themselves in the adult entertainment industry, the trauma is always worse.

The old patrons prefer young girls because of psychological reasons. These young girls remind them of their youth when they were very energetic. This means that these victims have to meet the constant demands of these patrons. The way they are treated is very inhuman.

The girls who are lucky enough to escape from these pits of death are left with serious trauma as they try to recall the ordeal they underwent. The memory of hardships, suffering, pain, intimidation, and constant abuses remain very clear in their minds.

According to Lobert (2015), such victims would develop deeply rooted mistrust towards men. When they come back, the society will never be normal to them. They remember the abuses at the hands of their captors and this make them view the world differently.

When these victims remember their fellow captives who died very painful deaths, the unsafe and painful abortions conducted by the inexperienced brutal individuals, and the relationships with people older than their parents, the pain sometimes become unbearable.

According to Wellstone and Ritchie (2008), the trauma may require a prolonged psychotherapy in order to make these victims feel normal again. They may need counseling for a very long period. The parents may also need counseling, especially those who develop the self-hate because of the feeling that they failed to protect their children.

How to Work with and Help the Victims

According to Anand and Gandhi (2008), we need to understand how to handle the victims who are lucky enough to escape from their captors. The last thing they need from us is sympathy or any blame because of something they did or failed to do that led to their kidnapping.

It does not matter if they were held captive for hours, days or years. What matters is that they are received back to the society with open arms, and subjected to psychotherapy to help restore normalcy in their minds without developing undue suspicion to anyone who gets close to them.

Getu (2006) says that the first step should be to listen to these victims and encourage them to talk about their experiences as much as possible to the counselors and people they trust. Talking about these experiences lifts the weight of the ordeal off their shoulders. It reduces the pain in their hearts.

In this process, the counselor should be keen to understand the pain and experiences the victim went through. Of interest should be the incidences that were painful. The counselor should then address these issues by explaining about why these people abused them.

The counselor should be able to explain why the men who patronize these clubs abused these young girls. This should be done in a way that will not make them develop mistrust to all men. They should remember to explain to them how their fathers, brothers, uncles, and male friends suffered and struggled to look for them.

This will make them feel that not all men are as evil as those who subjected them to pain.


The analysis above clearly demonstrates that human trafficking is a reality that we should be ready to face. Young girls get kidnapped and sent to facilities where they are subjected to painful experiences. The society should know how to handle these victims of human trafficking once they escape from these facilities.

They should be helped so that they can lead normal lives in the society.


Anand, A. S., & Gandhi, M. (2008). Justice for Women: Concerns and expressions. New Delhi: Universal Law Pub. Company.

Getu, M. (2006). Human Trafficking and Development: The Role of Microfinance. Feminist Studies, 23(3), 142-156.

Lobert, A. (2015). Fallen: Out of the sex industry and into the arms of the Savior. Brentwood: Worthy Publishing.

Snajdr, E. (2013). Beneath the master narrative: human trafficking, myths of sexual slavery and ethnographic realities. Journal of Law and Society, 37(2), 229-256.

Walker, D. (2011). God in a brothel: An undercover journey into sex trafficking and rescue. Downers Grove: IVP Books.

Wellstone, P. & Ritchie, M. (2008). Wellstone: Conscience of the Senate: the collected floor speeches of Senator Paul Wellstone. St. Cloud: North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.

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"Human Trafficking and the Trauma It Leaves Behind." IvyPanda, 24 Dec. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/human-trafficking-and-the-trauma-it-leaves-behind/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Human Trafficking and the Trauma It Leaves Behind." December 24, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/human-trafficking-and-the-trauma-it-leaves-behind/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Human Trafficking and the Trauma It Leaves Behind'. 24 December.

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