Sex trafficking affecting Mental Health is a deeply concerning global issue, impacting approximately 3.3 million individuals, the majority of whom are women. Among them, it is believed that over a million are children. However, obtaining precise figures is challenging due to the criminal nature of the activity, leading to poor data quality.
The connection between sex trafficking and mental health issues is undeniable. Exploring why this connection exists helps us understand the extent of the harm and assists in creating effective healing plans.
Factors affecting Mental Health of Human Trafficking Victims:
Biological factors: Victims of sex trafficking, particularly youngsters, experience extreme psychological stress as a result of sexual exploitation, resulting in notable neurochemical and anatomical changes in the brain.
Intense stress can lead to alterations in gene activity in certain parts of the brain, specifically in the hypothalamus. This can result in changes in the production of crucial hormones related to stress, including hormones like pro-opiomelanocortin, corticotropin-releasing hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone, and cortisol.
Additionally, the influence extends to other neuromodulator systems, including growth hormone, norepinephrine, GABA, opioids, and 5-HT.
Genetic factors: Many victims of sex trafficking share familial backgrounds marked by high prevalence rates of depression, schizophrenia, alcoholism, and substance abuse.
Although there haven't been studies specifically investigating genetic links between these disorders and mental health issues arising from sex trafficking, it's important to consider the possibility that survivors might have a genetic tendency to experience mental health challenges.
Genetics also influence an individual's response to stress and the likelihood of developing conditions like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Epigenetic factors, stemming from in-utero exposures, further compound this predisposition.
Psychosocial factors: Sex trafficking puts victims in a difficult situation involving crime, drug use, and poverty. These harmful factors come together and make things worse, leading to a cycle of violence that makes survivors' mental health even worse.
Some Self Care measures for the Victims of Trafficking :
- Controlled Breathing and Relaxation: Practice techniques like taking slow, deep breaths to calm your mind and body. This can help reduce stress and anxiety. You can find helpful methods online.
- Being Present in the Moment (Grounding): When you're feeling overwhelmed, focus on your senses. Look around and notice what you can hear, touch, see, smell, and taste. This helps bring your attention to the present and can ease strong emotions.
- Joyful Items and Activities: Create a list of things that make you happy, like hobbies, activities, or items you enjoy. On tough days, refer to this list and try to engage in something that brings you joy.
- Physical Self-Care: Take care of your body by exercising regularly, even a short walk outside can help, and eating nutritious food. Small steps can make a big difference in how you feel physically and mentally.
- Stay Connected: Keep in touch with people you trust, like friends and family. Having a support network can provide comfort and a sense of belonging. It's important to have people you can talk to and lean on when needed.
Tackling the mental health challenges that sex trafficking survivors encounter demands a comprehensive understanding of their biological, genetic, and psychosocial contexts. By embracing this multifaceted viewpoint, we can develop more effective strategies to alleviate the heavy mental toll borne by these vulnerable individuals.
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