Victims of human trafficking have endured traumatic and abusive experiences. The mental and physical effects of being trafficked are not easily forgotten, let alone overcome. Once someone has escaped or been rescued from being trafficked, they are faced with many challenges during their reintegration. Human trafficking can cause individuals to feel ashamed, stigmatized, disempowered and hopeless. Many are ashamed and might find it difficult to explain to family and friends what happened to them. Others experience profound guilt and shame, as they returned home empty handed. They can be faced with stigma and discrimination by their communities or family, especially those trafficked in the sex industry. They might think that these victims chose this type of work and purposely brought shame to the family and/or community. They feel disempowered and hopeless as they think what happened to them was their fault. Trafficking is never the victim’s fault. Many have been forced to give up all senses of control over their own person and life and they suffer from a range of mental health issues, such as depression, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, and much more.
During reintegration, victims meet many practitioners who are trying to help these individuals, however victims must recount their traumatic experiences and undergo health assessments to ensure that individualised and appropriate assistance is provided. These processes are difficult for victims because of reluctance to reveal details for many reasons such as fear their traffickers are still at large, fear law enforcement officials, developed loyalty to the trafficker, unable to trust others, or experiencing memory loss. The reintegration process is long and can be an hard process for victims, thus every measure must be taken to respect and protect the dignity and well-being of these individuals.
Given the extreme risks associated with trafficking, the fragile state of many of its victims, and the potential for increased trauma, IOM strictly follows the “do no harm” principle. It is the ethical responsibility of every organization providing assistance to victims of trafficking to assess the potential for harm of any proposed action and, if there is any reason that publicly releasing private information online about a victim will cause the individual to be worse off than before, it should not be undertaken. For all these reasons above, we have changed certain details like names, age, hometown, and other characteristics to protect the identities of these victims of trafficking, and to help them recover from their traumatic experiences and give them regained hope.