Rutgers researchers have described the connection that is established between youngsters sold for sex and the criminals responsible.
The finding should make it simpler for law enforcement and others to recognize victims, rescue and aid them in reentering the society. Nearly 1 million youngsters are sex trafficking victims globally.
The study examined research on trauma bonding and sex trafficking from years 1990 to 2017 and deduced 3 tools that criminals utilize to enforce a mental bond on their victims: extreme power difference, irregular cruel and seductive conduct, and social seclusion leading to the child’s apparent inability to escape.
“In sex trafficking of children, captivity is followed by this previously unrecognized process now identified as ‘trauma coercive bonding,’” stated Rosario V. Sanchez a Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers School of Nursing. “During recruitment, the trafficker creates an emotional bond with the victim – then replaces it with primal terror. Unpredictable assaults and death threats alternate with occasional, false expressions of romance or kindness. Confused about what constitutes intimacy, safety and love, these children feel responsible for the abuse, protect the abuser and feel remorse, shame and guilt when the abuse stops.”
Traffickers with numerous victims utilize exclusion, partiality, and conflict to turn victims against one another. This, added to the shame of their non-consensual sexual acts, makes victims increasingly withdrawn and reliant on the trafficker. They start viewing the trafficker as reliable, but dread law enforcement, and even their families.
The study discovered that trauma coercive bonding results in physical and psychological health conditions that continue long into adulthood. These may include depression, anxiety, drug addiction, self-harming behavior, stress, and repeat victimization. Victims become emotionally weak and incapable of maintaining relationships. All of these factors make their return to society challenging.
Comprehending how this bond impacts children, whose mental immaturity enlarges the power imbalance and makes them rely on the trafficker more and more with time, will aid workers in identifying and rescuing victims, Sanchez stated.
In addition, it will assist in them in a better understanding of why many previous victims continue to participate in risky behavior even following their return to a safe setting, Sanchez concluded.