top of page

Psychological Impacts of Human Trafficking

by Cadence Brown, edited by Alexandra Chu


To keep control, traffickers will often psychologically abuse their victims to create dependency, isolation, and fear. If the victims are able to escape trafficking, they are left with psychological trauma that often has lasting effects. Some of the mental health challenges that trafficked people may face are post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), anxiety, depression, panic disorder, and Stockholm Syndrome (No Escape).

Survivors who are impacted by Stockholm Syndrome have feelings of closeness and sympathy for their abusers. This illness is an attempt to minimize and justify the abuse they have to endure. When they are being trafficked, Stockholm Syndrome is a survival mechanism. When they are able to escape trafficking, this disorder may cause them to avoid getting the help they need; victims may even find it challenging to leave the abuser. Even after they are out of the situation, they might have a false sense of loyalty to their trafficker (Sex Trafficking).

Survivors often experience great emotional trauma as a result of separation from their family, friends, and community. They often feel hopelessness, guilt, recurring nightmares, lack of confidence, denial, distrust, and low self-esteem (Sex Trafficking).

Many people who have been trafficked experience suicidal ideation. Social isolation is a risk factor for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Once the trafficked person is free, they may feel extremely alone, and the feeling of isolation can be detrimental to their healing and life (No Escape).

In the research article, “Emotional Needs of Women Post-Rescue from Sex Trafficking in India,” the writers explored the emotional needs of survivors of trafficking. It is evident that survivors need acceptance and support. After rescue, it is important for them to connect to their providers, but the victims might find it difficult to trust them and share their feelings and emotions. Oftentimes after trafficking, they will feel stigmatized and not accepted by the people around them. Their trafficking experience may alter the way they see the world. It may seem like the world is more dangerous. Because of this, it should be of utmost importance that victims feel like they are in a safe place (Emotional Needs).

Works Cited

Da Sliva, Irani. “Emotional Needs of Women Post-Rescue from Sex Trafficking in India.” Taylor & Francis,

Hampton, Tai-Lin. “Sex Trafficking: Impact on Victim's Mental & Physical Health.” Medium, Medium, 4 Feb. 2019,

“No Escape: The Enduring Effects of Trauma on the Emotional Health of Human Trafficking Survivors.” AWKOLAW,

241 views0 comments
bottom of page