Burden by the Brain

imgresAre you really free from the treacheries of enslavement or are you still burdened by the memories and the trauma that comes after it? Being enslaved for merely 1 month can detrimentally damage a person’s ability to speak, think, or act. Victims suffer anything from anxiety to eating disorders, as well as combinations. Anything can trigger a stimulus. The process to recovery is different for all people. It’s the experiences that determine the amount of time taken to get to that point; how traumatic an event was and what they had gone through. Fortunately, the cases in Vietnam haven’t been as bad. There are few cases where I can find narratives of life after the event in Vietnam but using statistics, hopefully we can get a better idea of the psychological aftermath and trauma these survivors encounter.

According to an interview with 1102 people from Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam, 61.2% of participants reported symptoms of depression, 42.8% with symptoms of anxiety, and 38.9% reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. At the time, 5.2% had attempted suicide in the past month. The aftermath of trafficking has unbearable effects. There is no doubt that survivors who experiences extreme cases of labor reported symptoms of these conditions. And because of this, the life of survivors in Vietnam, as well as other countries, is entirely focused on recovery. Most likely lacking a good education, their future of economic opportunities isn’t as high and will increase their tendency to remain in poverty. Survivors also lose their connection with their family and community with these conditions and this can only contribute more to their psychological wellbeing. It’s an ongoing cycle of hell after being exposed to the spawn of Satan. You think you can get away, but the most painful memories are the hardest ones to forget. The reason is because of the Hebbian plasticity. The idea states that the brain region called the amygdala allows sensory stimuli to become associated with either rewarding or aversive outcomes, thus producing emotional memories. During the time of the trauma, victims were abused sexually and physically. The neurons in the brain fired electrical impulses, making stronger connections to each other than normal. These stronger connections make stronger memories, thus making symptoms of the earlier conditions more prevalent.

Survivors of human trafficking are vulnerable to the physical and psychological symptoms of trauma. Emphasis on recovery is key to these survivors. Although a long and slow process, trust and patience is the way they can go back to their normal lives.


Vulnerability in Vietnam

Map of places Vietnam traffickers take their victims.

Map of places Vietnam traffickers take their victims.

While men, women, and children are all victims of human trafficking, but due to the natural and unequal gender relations and social and economic power that unfortunately exists in the world, women and and girls are considered to be more vulnerable. Why? Why is it that women are more vulnerable? I thought women earned their rights in the early 20th century. Am I wrong? Why is it that some of us are still stuck in that past, where we believe that women shouldn’t be paid the same as men nor should they hold higher positions in their careers? According to research, traffickers usually target women because they are unfairly affected by poverty and discrimination, factors that get in the way of moving up in their career, or education, or general resources. The Vietnamese government estimated that about 10 percent of women who were lured into marriages with Chinese men have become trafficking victims. Nearly three-quarters of victims in Vietnam are women. But the worse part is that the traffickers are more likely than not relatives or acquaintances of these victims. Is there no sense of guilt or remorse when this is done? Women and girls are being sent to contingent countries forced into artificial love or sold for sex. They are being held against their own will with no means to escape. Hope for opportunity and success is all a lie and being thrown down the drain. Promises are broken and lies are the foundation of their lives. A similar story can be seen from Linh. Taken to Hekou in China by an aunt under the false pretenses of shopping trip, she was left with two Chinese ladies who were planning on selling her as a wife. At 25, she was forced into a marriage with a 30 year old. From there she had to produce a baby that was a male. At this time in China, the One Child Policy was still in effect and preferred males rather than females. As a result, women and girls had to be trafficked into China in order to produce the growing male population. Many people are forced into things they never want to do. Women and girls have the worse end of this spectrum. To live with this trauma after surviving such an event is very difficult. Trust issues develop and recovery is unpredictable.