Study Considers Mental Disorders in Women Survivors of Human Trafficking

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BioMed Central Psychiatry conducted a study of 120 women who were survivors of human trafficking in Moldova. The study consisted of interviews of the victims' past experiences with domestic abuse, trafficking, psychiatric conditions, and perceived social stressors.

Of the 120 women interviewed, about one quarter had a secondary or greater education and about half were unemployed prior to being trafficked. 80 percent of them reported childhood abuse and half were diagnosed with a mental illness.

The most common mental disorders diagnosed were post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depressive or anxiety disorders.

The study found that three things were found to be the greatest predictors of mental illness post-trafficking. Childhood sexual abuse and the length of exposure to trafficking were important factors as was social support and life stress after the trauma.

Post-trauma factors such as social support and life stressors (socio-economic conditions, family interactions, social support, etc.) were unexpectedly significant to researchers in regards to the recovery from trauma. This indicated that awareness, advocacy, policy and education are clear needs in regards to human trafficking. The study's authors say that follow up care and treatment usually follows the amount of awareness and education the culture has.

Source: Abas, M.; et al. (2013). Risk factor for mental disorders in women survivors of human trafficking: a historical cohort study. BMC Psychiatry 13:204


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