At Amirah we offer each woman that comes into the safe home an individualized, trauma-informed, whole-person care approach to their program. It's a mouthful, I know, but it is the bread and butter of what we do, and what we believe will help a woman fully recover from the trauma of sexual exploitation. It's the "don't leave any stone unturned" approach to trauma recovery.
While the approach is individualized according to each woman, her goals, her trauma, and her recovery, we at Amirah have overarching goals for them as they work through each avenue. We want to share with you all about these goals in the hopes to offer more transparency and to continue to show the amount of work that each woman is doing while she is at Amirah.
Whole-person means the six avenues of personhood, which we define as Physical, Psychological, Emotional, Social, Vocational, and Spiritual.
Let's start with Physical Trauma Recovery.
The thing that strikes me every time I speak is the refusal of people to actually think about the trauma that was endured physically from being sex trafficked. It's almost as if the term "sex trafficking" has become washed over with pity, but then left there, so that we don't really have to think about the physical actions that were done. Let's move past the pity into reality, shall we?
If we stick to averages, then we are talking about 10 tricks a night. But let's not use the street language, let's stick to plain and simple truth - this is 10 times in one night with 10 different men that a woman will have physical intercourse. The acts themselves can range in how aggressive they are. The fact that pornography has become more violent does not help, as those addicted to watching these fantasies are now seeking to act these out on "willing" partners.
This is just one night. The average is that a woman being trafficked will be out there 5 nights a week, over the span of months, sometimes years. Protection may or may not be used.
Then you have the actual trafficker who will use physical abuse as a weapon to exercise control. Broken ribs, broken jaws, shaved heads, burns, physical whippings, the list goes on and on of the physical harm and injury that was done against her.
I want to pause here, as I know that this is a lot. Take a moment with me and breathe. It is a lot, but we do not shy away from the horrific realities that these women went through, and we encourage you to do the same - know right now that you are not alone. Let's talk about what we do and bring hope into the picture.
What does Physical Trauma Recovery look like then and what is the goal of Amirah for each woman? The key term for us here is stabilization. There are a lot of things that they will be overcoming physically - treatment for STIs, rehabilitation for past injuries, needing to get adjustments now from chiropractors because of the years of abuse, having a basic understanding of their bodies, learning how to exercise in a healthy way (not in a way that is compulsive).
While it is individualized on what each woman needs, our goal is to see stabilization over time for her physically. We watch as the injuries become wounds which become scars which then lead to healing. We watch her become more confident in her physical self, and we watch her begin to articulate to her doctors what she has physically endured and what she is facing/feeling now.
None of these things happen overnight, but we watch them build over time. The biggest key for us is an understanding of the fact that everything she endured physically and the recovery that she needs physically is tied to all of the other avenues of recovery that she will have to work on. A good example of this is the fact that is she is not physically stable, she will not be able to recovery vocationally and have employment. So, we start with her physical needs - basic medical care, shelter, food, and offering her stability as she explores the intricacies of her physical recovery needs.
We cannot sugar-coat the physical abuse that she endured; even more so, we cannot understate the amount of work that she does to find that stabilization for her very physical being. The good news is that she does it! We see this each day.
This post is a part of a series on The Goals of Whole-Person Care Trauma Recovery.