When you think about human trafficking, what type of person comes to mind. Is there a specific gender that is more at risk to be human trafficked than the other? What if I told you that males were just as likely to be abused and trafficked as females are?
According to a CDC study in 2006, 1 in 4 women had been sexually abused before the age of 18 and 1 in 6 men. Men were less likely to report their abuse than females were, some not speaking out for years after their abuses occurred.
What are the reasons that we do not hear about male survivors as often? One idea is the pressure male children may under to become the protector of the family. They see their parents stressed out with life, fighting with each other, or maybe they are even distracted with a sibling that requires some special attention. The victim does not want to add to the stress that goes on in the life of their guardians already, leading to them feeling a pressure to not tell anyone about their abuse.
What organizations like The Paving the Way Foundation© want to get across is the effects of repressed trauma on victims. Since male victims are more likely than females to not disclose their trauma, they can be more at risk for the negative effects of avoidance behaviors. According to the CDC untreated trauma can lead to a multitude of psychological and physical health issues in victims. These issues may range from bipolar disorder and depression, to heart disease and malnutrition. Issues with attachment and substance abuse may follow these types of victims for the rest of their lives.
If we know that victims are at risk of having attachment and substance abuse issues, why are we not doing more to help victims feel comfortable seeking out help? It is time we stand up for male survivors and let them know that there are safe spaces for them to disclose what happened to them. When we stand up for members of our community, we allow them the ability to heal. With the right amount of kindness, and professional healing these victims do not have to become part of the cycle of abuse. They can become productive happy members of society. Lets work together in paving the way for male victims of abuse to heal from their trauma, so they can work towards becoming advocates for other people like them. Little by little we can change the cycle of abuse.
October 6th marks the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Already a silent danger in households across the United States, this extended period of stay at home orders, online schooling, and working from home has increased its risk, and importance, more than ever. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NACDV), twenty people per minute are abused by a domestic partner. This equates to a stunning ten million people a year, right here in our reputedly “advanced” United States.
How is domestic violence related to human trafficking? The answer is simple. In 2009, the U.S. State Department cited a 2009 study from London, reporting 70% of women victimized by human trafficking experienced domestic partner abuse before being trafficked. Even worse, sometimes the trafficker themselves originally was the victim’s domestic partner. This illustrates a cycle of abuse often leaving victims hopeless and alone. Women and men in domestic violence situations often lack resources, support, or the ability to remove themselves from dangerous situations; often, leaving their abuser means ending up on the streets.
But ending up on the street is not always a domestic violence victim’s biggest fear. No time is more dangerous to a domestic violence victim than the initial weeks after deciding to leave. The NACDV reports 72% of all murder-suicides involve intimate partners. Leaving is much harder when your life is on the line. As a community, we must empower and enable victims and survivors of domestic violence situations in their quest to find a way out.
Once a domestic violence victim determines a way out, the community should come together to help empower and support the survivor. The weeks and months immediately after leaving the violence situation likely determine the eventual outcome of the rest of a victim’s life. With the necessary compassion and community support, we all strive towards a common goal of severing the correlation between domestic violence and human trafficking.
Suffering from violence at the hands of a domestic partner does not doom someone to eventual trafficking, nor does it mean you have to end up alone.
At Paving the Way Foundation, we want to ensure no victim feels they are alone. If you, or someone you know, is a victim of domestic abuse, or think they may be, please call the
National Hotline for Domestic Abuse at 1-800-799-7233. They can connect you with resources in your areas, provide advice on resolving your situation, or even just listen – please let them help. You matter.