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Jul 2015

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From Survivor Leader Autumn Burris Founder of Survivors for Solutions

How important are mental health services to survivors of human trafficking?

I believe they are vital. In my opinion, mental health services are the most important services needed after “coming out of darkness into the light,” so to speak.

I have read and heard several different psychologists and mental health providers explain that surviving human trafficking is much like surviving war, and much like war, the aftershocks and effects of trafficking can linger in our minds for years to come … sometimes a lifetime.

Our bodies heal. Some wounds may leave scars that can be daily reminders of our days enslaved, beaten, tortured and sold. The bruises, cuts, broken bones, and burns -- even the branding marks -- heal with time. Our minds do not heal as quickly or like our bodies do. Yet, most of the time, they are treated as if they are one and the same.

Every trafficking story is different, just as every survivor is different. We all cope and heal differently, in different ways and in different time frames. We are individuals after all. We may have experienced similar trauma but that doesn’t necessarily mean we will cope with that trauma in the same way.


Some survivors may not have even realized they were trafficked until much later in life. I know that’s what happened to me. I had huge parts of my life missing. For example, ages 16 -18...