Hands That Heal

Hands That Heal: International Curriculum to Train Caregivers of Trafficking Survivors
Led by Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking in collaboration with The Salvation Army of Craven & Pamlico Counties, NC-Corps

The Hands That Heal training event provides you with the tools you need to understand and help trafficking victims in an effective way. One of the things I found to be most interesting about this event was the others who had traveled around the state and country to attend it. It was amazing how much I learned from the audience; listening to their personal experiences about trafficking really touched my heart and made me want to do something more. The first day of the event covered most of the basics of human trafficking. We reviewed an introductory of labor and sex trafficking and participated in case studies to gain a better understanding of how victims are faced with force, fraud, and many times coerced into situations before they realize what is really happening to them.
One of the topics I found to be most interesting was about the brain and how when victims face trauma their corpus callosum can become damaged. The corpus callosum connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain, meaning that victims of trauma loose the ability to think clearly; they may lie more often, trust people less, etc.… The damage caused during the traumatic experience can be decreased when others show love and listen to the victims; for example, if someone were to empathetically listen to the traumatized person. The goal is to have more connections between the left and right hemispheres and to break the bad connections in order to heal. As we know both sides of our brains have different functions but they work the best as one. When someone is traumatized they don’t have access to their frontal lobe, therefore the victim may have a difficult time answering questions and may end up feeling even more overwhelmed. The best thing to do is to try and connect to the victim, don’t push them, but let them know you are there for them when they are ready.
The second day of the training event was the most interesting to me. On the second day we learned about aftercare, cultural issues in trafficking and trauma, and understanding the physical, psychological, and spiritual needs of the victims. One thing one of the audience members stated was that, “our definition of safety is much different from theirs.” This is true in many aspects. We all come from different cultures, backgrounds, pasts… It is important to understand how to treat each victim because victims may react differently from their traumatic experience. One of the best things you can provide for the victim is to show that you value them; this will help them develop trust again. The four basic physical needs are a safe shelter, clothing, food, and medical care. Most victims have not had any access to any of these things. Many victims only have the clothes on their back and are very hungry from lack of nutrition. After these four basic needs are met the victims can focus on some of their other needs; such as sports, art, or church. Helping the victims to join a more active lifestyle again and become more involved in their community will promote more positive recovery and wellbeing. At first victims may appear to be angry, this anger is what is covering up all the hurt and fear they feel inside. Victims will often go through stages of grief as they recover; denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and last acceptance. The end of the second day of training closed with an optional video called “ Very Young Girls.” This video was a very emotional and intense learning experience for me. While it became difficult to watch at times it gave me understanding of what goes on beyond what I have read; the stories you cannot really put into words.
On the last day of the event, we took some time to learn more about what we can do as caregivers and community members to help put a stop to human trafficking. As a caregiver, one of the best things to can do is encourage the victims. One thing caregivers should be aware of is their own reactivity to the victim. The caregiver should act, direct, straight forward, and calmly respond not react. As a community member there is so much we can to help stop human trafficking, it is everywhere. We broke up into groups to brainstorm ideas about how we could help spread awareness and prevention within our communities. Some ideas my group came up with was to create a prevention curriculum to middle and high school students and speaking to various churches and law enforcement to get them more engaged and involved.

-Virginia Brooks, PR Intern for ENC Stop Human Trafficking Now

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