Medical Treatment of Victims of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence and Its Applicability to Victims of Human Trafficking. The Medical and Mental Health Consequence for Victims of Human Trafficking

03/30/2010

Research indicates that victims of human trafficking often have a wide variety of physical and mental health needs (Clawson, Dutch, & Williamson, 2008).  The physical health issues experienced by this population can include headaches, memory loss, gastrointestinal problems, chronic pain, broken bones, head and neck trauma, infectious diseases, sexually transmitted infections, dental or oral problems, respiratory illness, unhealthy weight loss due to food deprivation and poor nutrition, pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, and other gynecological problems (Alexander, Kellogg, & Thompson, 2005; Family Violence Prevention Fund, 2005; International Organization for Migration, 2006; Raymond et al., 2002; Zimmerman, 2003; Zimmerman et al., 2006).

Studies have found that 76100 percent of female survivors of sex trafficking report being physically assaulted and 67100 percent report being sexually assaulted while they were trafficked (Clawson, Dutch, & Williamson, 2008; Raymond et al., 2002; Zimmerman, 2003; Zimmerman et al., 2006).  In addition to physical consequences, victims of human trafficking often experience severe and complex mental health consequences as a result of the trauma they have endured.  Similar to victims of domestic violence and other traumatic experiences, many victims of human trafficking suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (International Organization for Migration, 2006; Pico-Alfonso, 2005; Zimmerman et al., 2006).  Studies have also shown that victims of trafficking often suffer from mood disorders, anxiety disorders, dissociative disorders, and substance related disorders (Family Violence Prevention Fund, 2005; International Organization for Migration, 2006; Zimmerman, 2003).[1]

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