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 and extreme physical conditions, including excessive work, work without proper protection and equipment 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 often experience serious mental health risks due to being trafficked 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 even more vulnerable due to their age. Trafficking of any kind greatly impacts the healthy development of a child’s emotional, physical, and overall psychological development.
Victims are also vulnerable to social ostracism. They often become isolated from their social circles, leaving them unable to engage with their community or reach out for help. When trafficked internationally, victims may be unable to ask for help or try to flee due to language limitations, geographic barriers and lack of cultural familiarity.
Trafficked persons are sometimes forced to engage in illegal activities as a direct result of their victimization. If law enforcement fails to properly differentiate between a victim and a criminal, survivors can be prosecuted and convicted for a situation they were forced into. Having a criminal record can make moving forward after being trafficked much more difficult, preventing survivors from renting an apartment, getting a job, or receiving financial aid towards education.