Sex Trafficking: Correcting the Denotation of a Survivor's Experience
It is common and expected for a survivor of human trafficking to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), physical injuries, and various mental health issues as a result of these events. These psychological effects are developed by the trauma a survivor experienced. Once integrated into society, these effects continue to affect the survivor while they work to rejoin society financially, socially, and physically. Another psychological effect is battered woman syndrome. BWS is an extension of PTSD but includes characteristics that include social and self-image issues in addition to trauma response issues. Specifically, issues of disrupted interpersonal relationships, body image distortion and/or somatic or physical complaints, and sexual intimacy issues are brought to the forefront in instances of battered woman syndrome. With a focus on the psychological effects stemming from sex-trafficking, traits of BWS are consistent across all survivors. A survivor’s experience can sum to more than the symptoms listed within PTSD. Introducing battered woman syndrome as a descriptor of the physiological effects of survivors will help properly identify and understand a survivor’s experience while in the system and also when rejoining society. Analyzing how the characteristics of battered woman syndrome more accurately portray a survivor’s physiological state, more so than the indicators of PTSD, can help build a better understanding of a survivor’s experience. With a new perspective of a survivor’s experience through the lens of battered woman syndrome, their psychological effects and responses from their trauma can be analyzed with further certainty.
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