Professionals are learning that many women who are or have been sexually trafficked suffer from undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder. Many survivors aren’t familiar with the symptoms.
Traumatologists at Intensive Trauma Therapy in Morgantown, West Virginia describe trauma is “anything that overwhelms the brain’s ability to cope. When something traumatic occurs, the left side of the brain temporarily shuts down and the experience is process primarily by the right side.
The left side of the brain helps us make sense of events in and orderly, organized manner. It helps us identify what is in the past, what’s going on how, what what will take place in the future.
The right side of the brain helps us solve problems and experiences time in the here-and-now. But it stores traumatic memories in bits and pieces because it cannot produce a linear story. For this reason, trauma-related experience that happened years ago can feel as if they are still occurring.
The ramifications of these factors can have terrible effects on the life of the trauma survivor. They can reach into every area of an individual’s life because they can change how the person views objects, events, circumstances, him/herself, others, and the world at large. These results can be bewildering to the person and to those around him or her.
Symptoms can vary from person to person but include flashbacks and nightmares, zoning out (dissociation), emotional numbness, depression, insomnia, rage, suicidal fixation, guilt, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, avoidance (of people, places, objects, smells or anything that reminds the person of the traumatic experience).
While much research has been done about how PTSD affects war veterans, little has been done regarding the influence of PTSD among those who have been trafficked. However, according to a recent article by Holly Smith, similarities exist.
Are you in need of help?
National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC): 1-888-373-7888
For further information and resources, visit Holly Smith’s blog, Breaking the Silence.