10 Reasons Trafficking Victims Can’t Leave

I can never say enough about the great work by my friend Amanda Kloer. This is yet another informative article by this Modern Day Abolitionist.

by Amanda Kloer

110905_Trafficking1. They are locked up: While most slavery does not rely on physical chains, some trafficking victims are confined physically by being locked into rooms, chained to beds, held in heavily fenced or guarded compounds or locked in trunks of cars.  Frequently when victims leave the place they are kept, they are guarded and their movement is limited. 

2. They don’t know where they are: Victims are also often frequently moved between countries or within a country to prevent them from becoming familiar enough with their surroundings to escape.  Many trafficking victims have reported not knowing which city or country they were in, making escape almost impossible. 

3. They’ve been beaten or raped for trying to leave: Attempts by victims to leave may result in severe physical violence including beatings and torture, as well as rape and sexual assault.  Even when no actual violence has taken place, traffickers use threats of violence, rape and death against the victim and the victim’s family. 

4. They distrust the authorities: Since traffickers are often victims’ only source of information, they can tell victims that law enforcement and service providers will arrest, deport, or hurt them. Victims may have bad past experiences with law enforcement in their home country or region, or even in a previous trafficking situation.  This fear may make victims reluctant to seek help from law enforcement or cooperate with an investigation. 

5. They are ashamed: Victims from all cultures and in both sex and labor cases may be profoundly ashamed about their victimization.   Constant denigration, psychological manipulation and violence can cause victims blame themselves for being forced or tricked into a their current situation, and make them reluctant to try and contact family or friends.       

6. They are too traumatized:  Trauma can manifest in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, social withdrawal, anxiety disorders, or suicidal tendencies.  Victims may find the situation hopeless or withdraw all together as a coping mechanism. 

7. They have bonded with the trafficker: Stockholm syndrome, or forming strong emotional bonds with a captor or abuser, is not rare in trafficking victims.  Over a long period of time the exploitation a victim experiences may become normalized and internalized, allowing them to bond further with their abuser.

8. They are addicted to drugs or alcohol: Traffickers have forced or supplied their victims with drugs and alcohol in order to facilitate an addiction and create a further dependency on the trafficker, for either the substance or money.  Victims will also sometimes use substances to self-medicate and treat the depression and trauma caused by their exploitation.

9. They don’t know help is available:  Trafficking victims may not know what has happened to them is illegal, and if they do, may not know that anyone can help.  Traffickers often tell victims there is no safety net, and that they will not receive any assistance from the government if they leave.

10. They have nowhere to go: Victims may have already been rejected by their families or fear that rejection if they return home after trafficking.  The trafficker may have told them that their family no longer wants them, and that they have no place to go besides with the trafficker.

While these are only some of the reason victims don’t leave, they provide important information to understand the dynamics of trafficking and how to find and help trafficked persons.

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