The trauma of trafficking affects everything about a woman’s life. We understand that, don’t we? But here’s what is difficult to understand.
When a woman becomes caught in a trafficking situation, she loses her identity. She is not allowed to make any of her own decisions. Sometimes she is forced to marry a stranger, so her family and herself can survive longer. She can’t decide what to eat, where to go, or what to do. Her aspirations simply disappear in a world of slavery, forced labor, and injustice.
Sadly, a pattern persists even after trafficked women are rescued: 80% return to their abusers.
According to the United States Department of State, this is due to three factors: the intensity, familiarity, and routine provided by the relationship (Department of State, 2020).
Intensity, Familiarity, and Routine
As you read those three words, how does it make you feel?
All of these words are related to patterns, routines, and belonging. As crazy as it may sound, trafficking provides a kind of security for these victims. They don’t have the freedom to make their own decisions. So when women finally escape the trafficking situation, there is a new, unfamiliar world full of hundreds of decisions to make each day. This new freedom feels intense and intimidating. Back in control of their own lives, they are now responsible for taking care of themselves. But they are unaccustomed to trusting in themselves to provide the most basic human needs: food, clothing, and housing.
Previous trafficking victims find they no longer recognize themselves. Facing these challenges, the allure of the “known” can feel safer than the unknown of their newfound independence. This is why they may return to the heartache and abuse of trafficking. This is what we fight for at DFN. Because every life matters.
Is There a Solution to This Problem?
Yes, there is! While the horrors that trafficked women face are devastating and unimaginable, there is hope. It is possible for them to reclaim and re-imagine their lives. As they learn to take control of their lives, they step into their future. With new skills and new freedom, they are able to recapture their identity as the women God created them to be. They recognize that they are strong, brave, and empowered.
A supportive community is one of the most important factors that will define the success or failure of a survivor’s endeavors toward wholeness. The community encourages them to persist and keep going. It is not going to be easy, but it is, fortunately, not an individual effort. Community support will help women feel cared for and safe. This new place of belonging minimizes the draw to return to the exploitative relationship with the trafficker for this kind of security.
What’s Different About DFN’s Approach?
We are committed to creating healthy communities for women and children. Safe spaces are vital for women and children to break the chains and cycle of trafficking. DFN creates these safe places so survivors can learn to advocate for their own lives and build a bright future.
We achieve trafficking prevention and rescue through whole care for the whole community in education, skills training, and healthcare. These initiatives are for women, children, and families, and provide access for them to reclaim and re-imagine their lives beyond trafficking and abuse.
Education that Empowers.The primary and secondary school environment provides connection and a strong educational foundation provides opportunity to rise above poverty. Education is more than just academic learning. It opens avenues to fulfill dreams and change a life forever.
Skills Training that Opens Doors. We offer six months of vocational training that gives women the tools they need to provide for their families. Certificates are available in areas like computer training, teacher education, tailoring, and cosmetology. These skills allow a woman to earn a viable income.
Healthcare that Heals. The goal of DFN healthcare systems is to provide accessible healthcare for everyone. Every woman and child deserves to be taken care of by doctors and specialists. DFN operates almost 100 clinics all over India in the most remote villages. Trafficking survivors often need on-going treatment for both physical and emotional pain. Without this care, disease goes untreated. With this care, the mind and body find healing and hope.
Our Promise Is for Life
Finally, and maybe most importantly, DFN supports women and children along every step of the journey to break free FOREVER from the cycle of trafficking. We strive to bring the number of women and children going back to trafficking to zero. We are committed to making change, and we believe trafficking can be stopped with our programs. Our promise is for life.
Trauma bonding in human trafficking – united states department of state. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2023, from https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/TIP_Factsheet-Trauma-Bonding-in-Human-Trafficking-508.pdf