Barriers to Sustainable Recovery: Addressing the Needs of Child Sex Trafficking Survivors
The most important thing in the life of a trafficking survivor is building a sustainable, new life, regardless of the age of the individual.
Oftentimes, we are more focused on rescuing victims of commercial sex exploitation and child sex trafficking, forgetting that getting them out of the life is more like the starting point to a fulfilling life. There's work to be done, and the journey ahead can hardly be actualized without appropriate and adequate support services for survivors.
Establishing Sustainable Recovery
Sometimes, survivors of sex trafficking, forced labor, and domestic violence fail to succeed at their first, second, and even third attempts to escape their former life of abuse. In many cases, this is because of their inability to navigate the new world of freedom and competition before them. They have no idea how to cope without help. So some of them find it relatively easier to return to their past lives; at least, they can handle a terrain they're familiar with. This pattern speaks volumes about the kind of assistance they need to regain full and fulfilling control of their lives. Adult survivors who went in as children or teenagers may even need more robust support than others.
What we do at The Mission Haven provides rich insight into this aspect of helping victims who have been able to escape their former life of abuse, homelessness, and limitations. What we must realize is that this stage in the journey to recovery determines if they slip back into the life or not. In fact, the exit process for victims of sex trafficking isn't really complete until they're started on a sustainable path to full recovery; in order to achieve this, some essentials must be in place.
Essential Needs for Sustainable Recovery
It is one thing for a sex trafficking victim to exit the life, but also another for the individual to pick their life back up and live a meaningful life afterward. From our experience, getting a sustainable fresh start for these victims is the hardest part of the job.
They need strong mental health support
Mental health support is very instrumental to the recovery of any victim. You can actually picture the many episodes of torture, abuse, and rapes that they've had to go through. The trauma of this past life can severely impair the ability of any victim to integrate back into normal society, let alone lead a meaningful life.
While inside, some of them were introduced to drugs as a way to cope, and that has become a part of their lives. According to observations, some survivors show symptoms of PTSD, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses. As a result, they need psychological therapy. One thing is certain; the horrific memories of the past years, months, and nights will remain with them, but with the right therapy, counseling, and support, we can significantly mitigate the impact of that trauma in their lives.
They need shelter and housing
The need for a decent shelter for victims who have managed to break free cannot be overemphasized. An aspect of our primary focus at The Mission Haven is providing a center that shelters survivors of child sex trafficking until they are strong enough to look out for themselves wholly.
This is very important because if poorly addressed, chances are, they will return to where they're coming from. Naturally, until they get a better alternative, that is the only place they're guaranteed a roof over their heads and a place to lay their heads, regardless of how the living conditions are.
Education and Work
Unfortunately, many victims enter the life as minors, and the majority of them have not completed high school. This presents them at a great disadvantage as they work to establish a rewarding connection with the rest of the world. Put another way, many of them do not have any work experience or certification. Our work, therefore, also involves providing access to educational resources and skill development programs to survivors. While the government is assisting with a number of programs in this regard, we need the business community to help survivors of sex trafficking become working members of the average American society.
Support for Sustainable Recovery at The Mission Haven
Recovery isn't complete until a survivor regains full control of their life. At The Mission Haven, we are committed to providing comprehensive and transformational Haven of Healing to victims and survivors of sexual exploitation, domestic violence, and sex trafficking. We believe that these children still have a chance at life at its best, and we need every support we can get to provide the best support possible continually.
Once a survivor breaks free, they desperately need healing from the devastating effect of their lives. But beyond healing, they need hope, they need to see new possibilities. Our goal at The Mission Haven is to provide them with those. With your generous donations and support, we can continue to provide a truly safe haven of hope and healing equipped with essential resources to lift victims and survivors of domestic minor sex trafficking. To give, volunteer, or become a partner, feel free to contact us today.