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How is it possible that in such a modern and emancipated country as the Netherlands, people are still becoming victims of human trafficking? How can young women not know the difference between free will and exploitation?

These are questions that we are often asked. Therefore, we gathered information from research articles and our own experiences to, hopefully, help you understand.

Help me understand

We often look at the adult who has been “tricked” or was not street smart enough to understand the danger of the situation. However, there are more factors to consider, than just not being street smart in order to understand the trajectory of a person. Evidence shows that child sexual abuse survivors are at greater risk of victimization later in life than the general population. This phenomenon is called sexual revictimization. Although statistics are always hard to pin down, the article Trauma, violence and abuse is suggesting that almost half of sexual abuse survivors are sexually victimized in the future. The biggest culprit of these result findings is SHAME.

Shame predicts revictimization in victims of childhood abuse. 57% of prostituted women have admitted that they have experienced some type of abuse in childhood. The shame of the incident(s) of abuse grow and often becomes the reality of how one perceives oneself.  One survivor described it as; “I felt inherently flawed and powerless to change. Shame felt so much bigger than self-contempt and low self-worth. My entire body felt exhausted from it.”

Recovering from trauma-related is complicated. In our predominately hierarchical societies, shame is an emotional tool for leveraging power and social conformity. We are more likely to  submit to group norms or someone more powerful as long as we don’t have to be alone or feel ostracized. Loneliness is the core fear associated with shame. Shame involves hiding and camouflaging one’s true feelings, just like a chameleon camouflages itself to remain safe from predators. Shame in humans is an adaptation to dependency on the group or person for a false sense of survival.