The impact of human trafficking on victims and survivors varies depending on the type of trafficking and the specific situation. But, research has identified a range of issues that victims and survivors may experience.
Victims of trafficking are often exposed to harsh physical conditions, including excessive work or the use of force by their traffickers. In addition, victims may be exposed to health risks, such as HIV/AIDS, infections, and substance abuse. They can also experience serious mental health risks, that result in anxiety, insecurity, fear, and trauma. Several studies indicate high levels of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in survivors. Trafficking can also lead to cognitive impairment, memory loss, depression, and even suicide.
Trafficked minors are all the more vulnerable due to their age. Trafficking may greatly impact children’s emotional, physical, and overall psychological development.
Victims may also experience social ostracism. They are often isolated from their social circles, leaving them unable to engage socially or reach out for help. Victims may also be trafficked internationally, and therefore may not be able to engage due to a lack of linguistic capability or geographic and cultural familiarity. Individuals specifically trafficked for sex have described facing stigma and other negative responses during and after their trafficking experience, especially from friends and family members.
Victims of trafficking are sometimes forced to engage in illegal activities as a direct result of their victimization. If law enforcement does not properly screen suspected criminals, a victim could be prosecuted and convicted. A criminal record makes it difficult for survivors to move forward since they may be, among other things, prevented from renting an apartment, taking certain types of jobs, or receiving financial aid.