General society, in America, believe human trafficking happens in other countries. So I ask; ‘What about the thousands of survivors existing in small communities and urban neighborhoods right here?’
My experience was growing up in the typical small Illinois community of Freeburgh where I was publicly exploited and traded for the price of a couple of beers for five consecutive years, 1974 – 1979. Now maybe you like to think that was back then and could never happen in my community today, but if you’ve seen the headlines you know this is not a truth you can believe any longer.
There were many people who know what was happening then, not just the men and boys who were at the parties and such, but those who whispered, pointed, shamed, even went as far as to keep their children away from the house on North Richland Street. Their daughters were not permitted to befriend me and their sons not allowed to date me. This was my public, everyday life throughout my teenage years.
Here is an article I read this morning as published in 2015, Medical News Today. A study completed by researchers from London focused on the health of survivors. These past few years I’ve seen the huge swing in the trainings, even been honored to attend and take part in various studies, interviews, and speaking venues. Finally, we can say that American psychologist and healthcare experts are realizing just how severe this problem in on a national and world health level.
Some of their finding;
- 48% experienced physical and/or sexual violence
- 35% women and girls suffered sexual violence
- 20% were locked in a room
- 47% were threatened
- 22% serious bodily injury (only 28% of those received any form of medical care)
- 61.2% suffer depression
- 42.8% suffer anxiety
- 38.9% PTSD
- 5.2% attempted suicide
It’s important to note – ‘No single profile of a trafficked person’. This means men, women, children of all ages, different countries, all different experiences -‘None believed there was help’. The researchers also stress that global efforts are inadequate!
Honestly, it’s quite difficult for society to comprehend the levels of harm and destruction of those held in exploitation or trafficking. Both labor and sex trafficking victims are held in captivity and service by extreme force, often terroristic attacks. This was indeed my case, at it still in for hundreds of thousands of children in Americal today, let alone around the world where the laws and resources are not available.
At fifty-six today, let me assure you the multi-level physical, sexual, and emotional injuries I endured never received any medical care. There was never a question of concern by those who actually witnessed violent attacks, saw all the bruises and shamed me because of the filth, rot, stench and decay that smothered my developing body. Not a school nurse, teacher, police officer, neighbor, or family friend even acknowledged there was a rotting child being brutally beaten and traded right in front of their eyes.
The life path and suffering lasted long after my escape from my parents and their enslavement. For two decades I endured almost deadly violent relationships and the multitude of injuries have come back to haunt my abilities in the extreme.
- Multiple concussions and head trauma
- Twelve years of sadistic molestation and rape
- Once open sores now scars over 75% of my body
- Broken, decays front teeth at age thirteen, turned into decades of dental problems
- Spinal Cord Trauma, resulting in multi-level Syringomyelia
- Multi-level disc and vertebral injuries
- Cracked ribs
- Both collar bones broken
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Complex PTSD
- Generalized (constant) anxiety
- Attempted Suicide
- Tens years pain management
- Seven consecutive years in trauma therapy
I am a healthcare nightmare!!!
The impact of my childhood and the horrors of all those years in hell are far worse than anyone can imagine. Only those who’ve experienced this torture can understand what it’s like trying to explain the ‘Why & What’ of all your injuries to the everyday physician or specialist.
Two years ago I went to see a new neurologist for evaluation of care due to increasing nerve damage and function, along with conversational challenges I have been noticing. As SHE examined me, it was summer so I was in shorts & a t-shirt. She looked at all my scars, my still broken teeth, and although I explained the cause, she looked at me and stated; ‘You need to get this fixed. You look like a Methhead’!!
Way to go doc!! More guilt and shame. I couldn’t respond because the tears started to well up in my eyes. Crushed by a few words, she sent me reeling into my darkest memories all over again. In fact, I have not had the courage to go in for another evaluation since. It’s all just part of my injuries and I have to do my best to live in this aftermath of hell.
Up until age forty-seven, I was a self-sustaining, single mother of three and a proud, productive member of society. My third nervous breakdown came when my dizziness, migraines and constant numbness became too much. When I finally went to see someone, I was three days in the hospital and extensive MRI’s which revealed just how bad my spine and head had been injured.
The end result is having to be on disability because I’m lucky to get two or three productive days a week; lucky to cook a meal, do my laundry, clean my house. I just have to keep going because to me those little things matter. For the past ten years, it’s been Medicare and Social security. Thank goodness my kids are grown because I honestly couldn’t take care of them.
How much do you think my healthcare and pain management, MRI’s and specialists have cost? The extensive dental problems have been estimated at above seven thousand dollars by a local dentist. Where in the world is that money supposed to come from? That kind of coverage is not part of any medical insurance I’ve ever had, so I just try not to smile or cover my mouth.
All of this is the everyday reality of My Survivor Health. It’s this difficult for anyone who has gone through these types of brutal actions and violations, torture and captivity. Thankfully, I’ve finally found a primary physician who has taken the time to understand and actually care about my wellbeing. Honestly, I wouldn’t leave her care for the sheer challenge of trying to explain everything all over again.
If we can engage our neighbors, healthcare providers, educators, law enforcement, and social services to recognize, report, respond to provide the earliest possible intervention and help, then we can and will reduce the billions of dollars spent every year for longterm care and rebuilding of human beings who have been victims of abuse, violence, and human trafficking. We can reduce the numbers of victims when we show we care and notice the little reactions and behaviors, the welfare of the children around us.
One last thing to stress; Do everything with empathy and compassion because you will never know the true nightmares another is trying to survive!!
Thanks for reading!!
#HumanTrafficking #healthcare #survivors