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Human-Trafficking and PTSDBy Sanjay Adhia, M.D.
PTSD and Human Trafficking: A Legacy of Fear
“ A woman who was such a victim, once freed, developed PTSD…as a result of her horrific experience. She was unable to leave her house and was constantly fearful. “
Women are the primary targets of kidnapping for the purpose of human trafficking. Rape, isolation from support, fear of death, loss of freedom not surprisingly can trigger Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and associated anxiety and depression disorders, including severe and chronic conditions. A woman who was such a victim, once freed, developed PTSD and a range of behaviors associated with severe and disabling anxiety as a result of her horrific experience. She was unable to leave her house and was constantly fearful. As a result of the actions of others, she has become psychiatrically disabled and the degree to which she can recover was unknown. Dr. Adhia’s evaluations for Physicians for Human Rights Asylum Network are forensic and require medico-legal training. Cases may end up in Immigration Court and require an unbiased and objective assessment.
Such experiences can leave a permanent emotional mark. If litigated, a forensic assessment of emotional distress damages has to take into account the prognosis for recovery. PTSD, for example, is difficult to treat, whereas psychiatrists have more treatment options to offer for anxiety and depression, even when it is severe and chronic, meaning ongoing and requiring long-term treatment. They may also be at greater risk for suicide, or drug and alcohol abuse as a perceived “coping” mechanism. Note that in no event does Dr. Adhia treat these individuals or have a physician/patient relationship. Dr. Adhia volunteers his forensic services to Physicians for Human Rights, Asylum Network. In Texas, Dr. Adhia finds a disproportionate number of these cases are associated with immigrants who give up security and trust to find asylum in the United States.