Yaoqi LAI_Learn.Respond_August

Sometimes when we experience pain we begin to shield ourselves from the world.  Our instinct is to build an imaginary brick wall so that no one can hurt us again – or so we hope.  From past experiences, we learn to recognize the antagonists in our lives.  We associate certain smells, environments, and people with an unpleasant past.  We discover ways to avoid situations that could lead to the same awful feeling felt so long ago.

However, we cannot control the outside world and in spite of our best efforts we sometimes run into terrible moments.  People cannot anticipate who might be waiting around the corner.  We are unable to see inside people’s hearts and know their true intentions.

Children who have suffered traumatic events or abuse can carry with them a burden so heavy that is difficult for them to cope and dissolve the bad memories.  These children then become adults and live a life where they appear to have buried the pain.  In reality, anything can trigger an unpleasant memory and bring back feelings of fear and anxiety.  Children who have experienced violence are at a higher risk of being trafficked.  They are vulnerable and are used to being mistreated.  Since abuse is much of what they have known as a child, they might find it hard to accept that they deserve love and continue to repeat the cycle.

Generally, those who become trafficking victims are subject to threats and violent acts on a daily basis.  Often, their traffickers tell them that their families will be harmed if they do not succumb to their demands.  For the most part, they do not have any say to how many clients they may see or how many hours they have to work.  They have zero sovereignty.  Victims live in a reality of constant fear.  They are compelled to do anything to survive.

When youth are sexually exploited, they are often bombarded with the following thoughts: “If I don’t do what they say, what will they do to me?  If I don’t do this, will my ‘boyfriend’ be angry?”  No matter the response they are likely to lose.  They are forced to succumb to a decision where their physical well-being and mental health are at risk.

After the trauma has ended, survivors have to learn to cope to start a new path.  They have to learn to trust others, which can be challenging.  They might remember a time when they trusted someone and were then betrayed.  Some trafficking victims were promised a life of prosperity, but instead, they received a life of violence.

A study from the American Journal of Public Health reported that some of the negative consequences of living a traumatic experience like sex slavery might include depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.  Survivors might develop something called “survival brain,” which means that they try to prevent themselves from falling into the same trap.  Some may never let their guard down so as to never be hurt the same way again.  As a result, they might have difficulty seeing the beauty in life and appreciating the good in the people around them.

When this happens it is not the survivors that are to blame.  The circumstances of the life imposed upon them and the people involved are to blame.

In order to overcome trauma, every survivor needs a support system.  They need family and friends they can trust to help guide them towards a life of faith, love, and joy.  By being patient, family and loved ones can help a survivor transition out of a dark place.  Some people need more time than others to recover from a bad situation.

They need positive mentors to provide them with the necessary coping skills to truly live.  Two Wings offers the opportunity for survivors to be surrounded by professional women who demonstrate courage, responsibility, and integrity.  Two Wings values experts who share their career and life experience with young adults.  Interacting with career oriented individuals helps survivors begin a path of self-discovery.

If you or someone you know has an interest in becoming a career mentor, please email us at info@withtwowings.org.  We will send you information on how you can help change the lives of our participants.

It is amazing to think that when given the chance, survivors will show an incredible ability to thrive.


Stephanie Sandoval

Contributing Writer, Two Wings