Human trafficking is often only part of a larger constellation of adversity and traumatic stress faced by survivors. Research has theorized the association between the prolonged exposure to interpersonal trauma human trafficking survivors experience and complex trauma (APA, 2014; Cloitre et al., 2012; Courtois, 2008; Hopper, 2017a; Roe-Sepowitz, Hickle, Dahlstedt, & Gallagher, 2014). Not only can early or repeated interpersonal trauma, such as sexual assault, lead to complex PTSD, but it also impacts a range of responses: emotional, social, physical, and spiritual well-being. In addition, systems of oppression that result in interpersonal trauma (e.g., racism) often intersect and create further challenges for survivors of color. This workshop will introduce the association between trauma theory and social oppression through didactic and experiential activity, as well as discuss complex trauma in survivors of human trafficking and its implications for service planning. Complex trauma impacts and how these reactions increase vulnerability to exploitation, how traffickers play on these reactions as coercive strategies, and how these struggles impact life after the trafficking experience will be explored.


Outline/Structure of the Workshop

Session will begin by introducing relevant theories and frameworks (e.g., trauma theory, multiculturalism/social justice) to understand how cultural trauma and complex trauma present in survivors of human trafficking. Complex trauma will be defined with exposures and impacts related to cultural trauma and human trafficking and trauma reactions will be explored in context. The session will end with the discussion of a multi-dimensional trauma-informed approach that can be utilized to work with survivors of complex cultural trauma.

Learning Outcome

  1. Participants will be able to define complex trauma in survivors of human trafficking.
  2. Participants will increase capacity by identifying areas impacted by complex trauma.
  3. Participants will learn about the mental health implications of intersectional oppression, assess their own level of cultural humility, and begin to identify opportunities to apply knowledge in their work.
  4. Participants will be able to name four essential aspects of complex trauma-informed systems care and cultural humility to aide survivors’ recovery process.

Target Audience

Law enforcement, social service providers, mental health professionals, foster care etc.

schedule Submitted 5 years ago