When someone is forced into sex slavery, they experience emotional and physical abuse that can cause debilitating stress every single day. But even after they’re freed, there is a considerable amount of suffering – especially in terms of their mental health.
One of the most common afflictions is anxiety, especially PTSD. For some, the anxiety can be so overwhelming that it impacts their ability to find happiness in anything they do. PTSD and anxiety may even cause these girls to seek back their former lives, simply because they cannot bear the severity of the symptoms.
What Causes This Anxiety?
PTSD is incredibly common with those that have experienced any type of traumatic event(s). It’s a common condition often associated with rape victims and soldiers that return home from war. In many ways it is a persistent stress that creates a level of hyper-alertness. That alertness causes a reaction from anyone and anything that triggers even the slightest possible response. For example, a strange man saying hello or a loud noise.
PTSD creates a higher stress baseline, so anything that creates stress can cause very high levels of anxiety. Imagine there was a stress scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is severe symptoms and 1 is no anxiety. Most people start out somewhere on the bottom, so if something occurs (something that, say, adds a “1” to the stress scale), there’s still on the low end of the spectrum and unlikely to experience severe stress.
Those with PTSD, on the other hand, are starting out at a base level of 8 or 9, so even the smallest stressor shoots them up to a level of intense anxiety that most people can barely imagine. That level of anxiety is difficult for anyone to fathom that has not dealt with PTSD in the past. And PTSD, or some type of extreme anxiety disorder, is very common with trafficked girls after they’re freed. They experience this anxiety for a number of different reasons including, but not limited to:
• Physical/Sexual Violence
As many as 95% of forced sex slaves experience some degree of physical/sexual violence, either from those that enslaved them, throughout the transfer process, or by those that take advantage of them. These are a very traumatic event that leave the person in a constant state of fear, tension, and awareness, and is one of the most common reasons that these women experience anxiety and PTSD.
• Change
Human beings are surprisingly affected by change, and often experience intense anxiety when their routines are altered. They likely experienced this anxiety while enslaved, but they also experience this anxiety while freed, because why being free represents a better life, it also represents a much different life, and that degree of change can cause the mind and body to feel very anxious.
• Loss of Social Support
It’s hard to argue that these girls ever had true “social support” but they did have a dependency, either on their pimps or other girls they were in contact with. Once freed, this social support is taken away, and they no longer have that familiar face they feel they can turn to – no matter how harmful that familiar face was in their life. Without social support, the natural occurrences of the world start to feel more intense, and it’s not uncommon for that to lead to anxiety.
• Need for Reliance/Responsibility
There is also a lot of pressure on these girls to recover and move on. They need to have personal responsibility, become self-reliant, make friends and have normal relationships. These are not easy tasks for those without such a terrible history, let alone those that have been through everything that they’ve been through. Without being used to that pressure, it can be difficult for these young women to cope.
How is PTSD and Anxiety Treated with Trafficked Girls?
Treatment is a long process. Therapy is the most important first step. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been successful, as has exposure therapy – which involves trying to have the individual relive an event in order to get them more used to the stress and anxiety that it causes.
Other types of treatments include something called “eye movement desensitization and reprocessing” which involves changing your physical reaction to stress.
Healthy living is also very important, as is trying to find productive, enjoyable activities that give the patient something to improve their mood and allow them to bond with people. Medications may also be considered, especially when the PTSD or anxiety are severe.
But it’s certainly an uphill battle, and one that has no easy solution. With all anxiety disorders, there is no quick fix, and when someone has gone through the horrors that these women have been through, treating them takes commitment, especially on the part of the patient, whose anxiety may make it hard for them to accept these treatment options.
About the Author: Ryan Rivera suffered from his own anxiety issues, and writes about ways to treat and handle anxiety at http://www.calmclinic.com.

Author's Bio: 

Ryan Rivera suffered from his own anxiety issues, and writes about ways to treat and handle anxiety at www.calmclinic.com.