Human trafficking: Trauma-informed care

Human trafficking: Trauma-informed care

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Clinical psychologist Cory Patrick helps veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

Patrick says veteran or not, trauma victims for the most part, experience similar symptoms. 

Including victims of human trafficking. 

"Things like nightmares, having intrusive thoughts and images remembering the event that happened, avoiding things, avoiding crowded places, avoiding unfamiliar places."

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, victims of sex trafficking are especially vulnerable to physical and psychological symptoms of trauma, from repeated, intrusive and long-term abuse. 

A 2014 study of health consequences shows 92 percent of sex trafficking victims deal with mental health problems. 

Franciscan Sister Marlene Weisenbeck started The La Crosse Task Force to Eradicate Modern Slavery in 2013.

She consistently meets with several human trafficking victims and wants to gain more knowledge on trauma-informed care. 

"The more stories you hear, the more you begin to see commonalities in them, in the victims response, the survivor's response, and yes the perpetrator's evaluation of all of this."

Patrick says it's necessary to learn the signs of trauma, to better understand how to help a victim.

"When you're comforting or working with a trauma survivor, that's not somebody that you want to just hug unexpectedly because they're upset, or even like touch their shoulder, or their back, you want to be very mindful to make sure that you ask permission before making any physical contact with them."

The Taskforce to Eradicate Modern Slavery continuously works to raise awareness on human trafficking and trauma, but Weisenbeck says there's a long way to go. 

"Other professionals such as social workers or physicians, or nurses or teachers in schools, also need to have an awareness of what trauma is and what they're seeing in a person's behavior that might indicate that they're dealing with a serious situation."

If you have any questions or would like to learn more, you may contact the Tomah V.A. to speak with Cory Patrick, or Sister Marlene Weisenbeck at the St. Rose Convent in La Crosse.

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