Mosaic’s Mental Health Counselors work with a wide range of clients and provide culturally competent services to survivors of all different backgrounds. Our counselors have a lot of experience working with human trafficking survivors and have gained a lot of insight into the impact of trafficking on a client’s mental health.
Working with human trafficking survivors is different from working with non-trafficked clients for various reasons, but gaining trust with trafficking survivors is a significant component in their healing process. There is a lot of complex trauma with this population, and how they express that trauma is different. They typically have more fear of new relationships, and addiction and smoking are significant issues directly tied in with their mental health trauma.
Lack of trust in every area of their life is a major obstacle that survivors face on the road to recovery. Because Mosaic works with many multicultural survivors of trafficking, there are even more barriers, including language barriers, adjusting to American culture and understanding their new surroundings. For many foreign-born survivors, their traffickers use threats of reporting them to immigration as a manipulation tactic, so survivors from that demographic are terrified of deportation.
While some survivors understand that trafficking is wrong, others do not have the awareness to recognize it. Many have been trafficked for so long that it has become normalized. Some trafficking survivors do not even realize they were subjected to a crime.
Adjusting to a life outside of trafficking is a long process and is challenging for survivors. Many tend to isolate themselves because that’s the defensive technique they learned while being trafficked. For many survivors, adjusting to society means they’re learning to value themselves as individuals and learn to be a person again. This adjustment is a social, emotional, mental, relational and financial change in survivors’ lives, and it’s critical they receive support along the way.
In many ways, trafficking survivors have essentially been held captive, whether mentally, physically, emotionally, etc., by their traffickers. The impact of being held captive on a person’s mental health is vast; they have lost their freedom and made to feel like an object, not a human. Their cognition is lost and deteriorated, and self-esteem is badly damaged. They are made to believe they don’t deserve respect and feel like they don’t deserve fundamental human rights.
There can be many lasting effects of human trafficking on a person. Long-lasting, painful memories will follow a person, and they often have trust issues, anxiety and depression. Trafficking can also take a physical toll on survivors, like ongoing health issues due to lack of consistent, quality healthcare while being trafficked, injuries from violence and sexually transmitted diseases.
Mosaic’s Mental Health Counselors have heard countless stories from trafficking survivors and are incredible catalysts on a survivor’s journey to recovery. Despite the many horrors that trafficking has on a person, our counselors have also seen endless resiliency examples in clients. A former Mosaic sex trafficking client was suicidal when she first came to Mosaic’s shelter and was deeply afraid of men. After working with our many services and receiving comprehensive counseling, she was confident enough to face her fear and took a job in a male-dominated industry.
Another labor trafficking client was deeply depressed when she started receiving our services. After six months of counseling, she began to take back her life by going to college, and eventually went to law school and became a lawyer.
Mental Health Counseling is a critical part of recovery for survivors of human rights abuses. Through Mosaic’s counseling services, clients work to take back their freedom and independence and develop tools and skillsets to move forward with their lives. We are so proud to offer multicultural counseling to our clients and are grateful for Mosaic’s compassionate and motivated team of counselors.