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Children victims of human trafficking are often forced to work in the sex industry. They are placed in captivity, threatened and subjected to physical and sexual abuse.

They face an environment that is isolating and hostile and soon realize that the risks to their life decrease as long as they comply with the demands of their traffickers.

Children continuously have to adjust their perception and compromise, which affects their mental state to such an extent that they defend and justify their trafficker. They even deny that any abuse has taken place. These traumatic events change the victim’s knowledge, perception, awareness and outlook on their life. The feeling of helplessness and loss of control brings on a state of denial, suppression and altered self-identification. Children have to develop new coping mechanisms in order to find some stability in their lives if they are to survive. Even when they are released from captivity they are in a state of confusion, deception, and show a defensive attitude towards any persons trying to assist them. It is very difficult at the time of their release to try and persuade them of the evilness of their traffickers.

Children suffer the same confusion, shame, anxiety and guilt -the same psychological effects - as adults’ victims. They are also deprived of the development of safe boundaries as they develop a sense of loyalty towards their trafficker. They focus on the needs of their abuser to ensure their survival. This bonding with their trafficker causes the child to dissociate from reality and develop distorted perceptions of its world to the extent of wanting to keep in contact with their abuser no matter what they do to them. They will continue to trust and be loyal to the traffickers who constantly betray them. This addictive illogical relationship is a means for them to escape the agony and reality of the abuse they have to endure.

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