Help a Trafficking Survivor Heal From Her Trauma

by Lotus Outreach
Help a Trafficking Survivor Heal From Her Trauma
Help a Trafficking Survivor Heal From Her Trauma
Help a Trafficking Survivor Heal From Her Trauma
Help a Trafficking Survivor Heal From Her Trauma
Help a Trafficking Survivor Heal From Her Trauma
Help a Trafficking Survivor Heal From Her Trauma
Help a Trafficking Survivor Heal From Her Trauma
Help a Trafficking Survivor Heal From Her Trauma
Figure 1
Figure 1

In 2017 the Consoling Thru Counseling program provided safety, care, shelter, counseling, skills training, referral services and reintegration for 41 survivors and 40 of their relatives (81 in total) and which are mostly children accompanying their mothers.

Of 41 survivors, 23 were children

Of 41, 23 were trafficked for labour, 15 of them, children. The remaining 8 of 23 children were survivors of sexual abuse/rape.

10 were survivors of domestic violence.

There is no doubt the heinous nature of child rape is part of the reason most rape cases in the Safe Shelter are children. Of course that doesn’t mean rape amongst young adults is not common in Cambodia, rather it is more likely that due to deep poverty, lack of rule of law and low cost of human life, the major percentage of such crimes are not reported.

Whatever the case, the program always provides care, shelter, legal representation and counseling to between 8 and 12 children victims of rape and sexual abuse every year.

We have noted on many occasions that due to many years of lobbying, this program has convinced the Cambodian Court system to respond to high numbers of pending cases such that these days almost all of the perpetrators are caught and convicted, whereas 10 years back, perpetrators were more likely to get off.

A child’s life is irrevocably changed in the course of such a tragic event. It’s our hope this program and these stories will continue to remind Governments and individuals that all and everything must be done in order to protect these innocent children.

On our recent visit to Cambodia in June we met with the CTC counselor Soknyi and she provided the following account of a 13 year victim of rape by her own father

Phal – Entered Consoling Through Counseling program in January 2018

13 years old Phal has one brother and is the oldest sibling of a family from Banteay Meanchey Province. The family is very poor and raise ducks for a living. Phal’s father was an addict sentenced two years prison on drug charges. After one year Phal’s mother bailed him out. After one month he began to rape Youry. In July the family moved to Thailand and he continued to rape her. At one point the Thai owner the family worked for arranged for Youry to work by looking after his grandchild.

Youry took the employer into her confidence and told him she didn’t want to go back with the father as he had been abusing her. The boss then told Phal’s mother what had been happening and they conspired to have the father arrested.

The police arrested the father but let him go back with mother and daughter so they could report father on the rape case. Police then contacted CPU NGO that all Thai child rape cases are referred to. Phal was then referred to the consoling through counseling shelter where she arrived 31st Jan 2018.

The father testified that he was influenced by watching lots of porn and that he didn’t hit her. If he is convicted he stands to spend 10 to 20 years in jail. As it turns out, he was abusing Phal since the age of 5.


Soknyi tells us … “When she first arrived she was nervous and soon asked to return to be with her mother in Thailand. She felt ashamed about what had happened and spent a lot of time alone in her room.

She didn’t want to be reminded of her father as he often beat her and was violent and cruel, blaming and scolding her all the time. She felt angry with her father and wanted him to be given a life sentence.

She often felt depressed. Soknyi tried to explain the legal process to prepare her for the court case and that she would have to under go a medical examination.

Reason why Soknyi explained this process is that Phal was planning to leave the shelter. Soknyi wanted to let her know there would be some months required to go through the medical and legal processes.

After than Phal agreed to stay and Soknyi told her that we would send you to school since she was of that age. After a month or so, when she became involved in school she started to enjoy attending and the lifestyle of staying in the shelter. Phal now has a dream to practice medicine. Whether she can or not, the point is she has hopes for her future that she can aim for.

The Shelter staff also let her join beauty skills training but it took up too much time so she went back to plan B. Soknyi tells us, “She is in 6th grade, a smart person, quick learner and a good student.”

Soknyi tries to help her come to terms with bad dreams about her father abusing her and to convince her she is safe, the father is in jail and there are people here in the shelter that will protect you. Phal still has real fears that her father could be released and come back to hurt, torture and kill her.

Soknyi tells her, “by the time your father gets out of jail you will be much older and he will also be an old man. You will have a family and husband able to protect you.”

With daily counseling and care she is now less worried about her father coming back, she socializes and studies hard toward her dream of becoming a medical practitioner.

Sokyni also tries to explain to her if she doesn’t want to stay in the shelter anymore we can refer her to an NGO that will care for her until she reaches University.

Phal is quite mature for her age so most of the counseling was done through talking and reasoning. Soknyi says, “She talks very openly and gets everything out, so no need for art therapy and other counseling techniques.

Her counseling journey has been 5 months thus far and the shelter usually allows stays of 6 to 8 months so she will have to make a decision in the next few months. If her case continues to drag on in the courts however, she will be allowed to stay at the Shelter until the case is completed. 


Thank you to donors who have given hope to beneficiaries like Phal.

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Clients attending small group counseling.
Clients attending small group counseling.

The following is a detailed January through March Consoling Through Counseling activity report. It includes the amounts and types of the clients served along with recent activities and an overview of reintegration's: 

The counselors have spent a total of 36 hours and 15 minutes providing 50 individual counseling sessions for 16 survivors who were staying in the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center safe shelter. Among the 16 survivors, 10 were victims of human trafficking and exploitation, 4 were victims of sexual abuse and 2 were victims of domestic violence.

  • The counselor provided counseling sessions on 7 occasions to 13 survivors and 6 relatives at the CWCC's safe shelter. Among the 13 survivors, 8 were victims of human trafficking and exploitation, 4 were victims of sexual abuse and 1 was a victim of domestic violence. 6 hours and 40 minutes were spent in counseling sessions total.
  • The counselor provided counseling sessions on 8 occasions to 15 survivors and 6 relatives at the CWCC's safe shelter. 8 hours were spent in total. Among the 15 survivors, 9 were victims of human trafficking, 4 were victims of sexual abuse and 2 were victims of domestic violence.
  • 23 people – 10 survivors of human trafficking and 5 relatives, 2 survivors of domestic violence and 2 relatives, and 4 survivors of sexual abuse – participated in 8 weekly meetings in the shelter. 16 hours were spent in total.
  • The (16) beneficiaries of the individual counseling sessions were victims of the following:

a)     Under 18: (14 in total)

-       Human Trafficking: 9

-       Sexual Abuse: 4

-       Domestic Violence: 1

b)    From 18 to 22: (0 in total)

-       Domestic violence: 0

-       Sexual Abuse: 0

-       Human Trafficking: 0

c)     Over 22: (2 in total)

-       Human Trafficking: 1

-       Domestic Violence: 1

-       Sexual Abuse: 0

  • On March 04, 2018, the counselor met with the senior counselor of Bamboo Mental Clinic (former INDIGO) in Phnom Penh to report and discuss the general mental health of the clients. The discussion also focused on the challenges faced by the counselor, such as dealing with the poor mental health of clients and the difficulties involved in treating survivors of exploitation. The senior counselor instructed her to identify her own strengths and to understand that she is doing her best in this difficult task that is dealing with deeply traumatized clients.
  • During this quarter, there were a total of 3 clients (DV=3 & HT=4) attending the sewing training in the shelter, all of them are survivors of trafficking and exploitation. In addition, 4 girls who were attending a beauty salon course outside the shelter the previous year have continued the course.
  • During this first quarter of 2018, the monitoring and legal aid project received a total of 12 new cases – 6 domestic violence survivors, 5 sexual abuse survivors and 2 human trafficking survivors (1 case=2 survivors). The lawyer filed 4 new cases of sexual abuse to Banteay Meanchey’s first court of instance and 4 cases were tried at court which included 2 cases of domestic violence and 2 cases of sexual abuse.



  • The reintegration officer interviewed 2 underage survivors of sexual abuse in order to develop case plans for reintegration. 
  • The reintegration officer conducted one family and community assessment for one case of sexual abuse (underage) and conducted one family tracing for one case of human trafficking (underage). The family and community assessment went well, and the client is able to go back home anytime. The tracing was also successful. The reintegration officer met her family (the victim’s sister) in Battambang. Her mother was working as a laborer at the Cambodia-Thailand border in Battambang province.
  • 2 survivors of human trafficking with 2 relatives, 1 survivor of domestic violence with 3 relatives and 1 survivor of sexual abuse were reintegrated to their home communities in Banteay Meanchey and Battambang. The four survivors received a life start-up support from the project to buy food commodities.

Thank you to all of the donors who have helped improve the lives of these strong survivors!

Two survivors of rape with a counselor.
Two survivors of rape with a counselor.
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Phallis, a CTC  Counselor.
Phallis, a CTC Counselor.

The United Nations defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons by improper means (such as force, abduction, fraud, or coercion) for an improper purpose including forced labour or sexual exploitation.

While we all understand what an evil trafficking is, we are not always aware of the various ways in which trafficking occurs and more importantly, the experience of being trafficked.

Below are several excerpts from a 2014 report, ‘Health and human trafficking in the Greater Mekong Subregion.’ Findings from a survey of men, women and children in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam,[1] and which provides insight into the experience of trafficked persons.

  • Around 70% of 1000 trafficked persons surveyed were travelling without legal documents and those with documents often had them taken from them. Some 20% of the sample group were subject to sexual violence, 97% of them female.
  • Experiences of violence were reported by 36.2 per cent of children, ages 10–14 years old, and by 35.3 per cent of adolescents, ages 15–17 years old.
  • Two thirds were never or seldom free to go or do what they wanted and 58% were forcefully confined at all times.
  • Just over half of the participants under age 18 were trafficked for sex work (51.9%).
  • Agriculture/farming was the pre departure occupation for 42.7% of the group and 20% were students.
  • 26.5% of respondents said someone close to them that should have been trustworthy was responsible for getting them into the trafficking situation.

Over the past year the Consoling Thru Counseling program has provided safety, care, shelter, counseling, skills training, referral services and reintegration for 41 survivors and 40 of their relatives, mostly children accompanying their mothers.

Of the 41 survivors:

  • 23 were trafficked for labour of which 15 were children
  • 8 children were survivors of sexual abuse/rape.
  • 10 were survivors of domestic violence.

Following is a Case Report of Srey Loy (not her real name) one of the children served by the program during 2017 and who was both a Labor trafficking exploitation case and a rape case.

 [1] Zimmerman, C. et al. 2014. Health and human trafficking in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Findings from a survey of men women and children in Cambodia, Thailand and Viet Nam. International Organization on for Migration on and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Background of Loy’s case:

Loy is Khmer; she was born in Thailand, the only daughter of her father whom died when she was very young.  She studied only until 4th grade in Thailand. According to Loy, her mother had been under medication for a mental problem for a year at least. When Loy was 13 years old she started working in a rice-milling factory in Thailand where she prepared rice bags on a production line, to be filled with flour after milling.

Earlier her mother worked with her there but did not in the past year due to her oncoming illness. Loy then came into the care of many aunts and uncles (not relatives) that lived nearby to them.

Even so, Loy continued to live with her mother until at some point a Thai man raped her at home on one occasion and soon after a Khmer man tricked her to accompany him to the market where he raped her in an empty store. The two perpetrators were eventually convicted and sent to jail in Thailand. Loy was sent to a Thai shelter for 8 months before being repatriated back to Cambodia. She didn’t have any formal documents so they sent her back to Cambodia.

After entering shelter care, she initially only talked about how she worked in the factory as a child. After some time Soknyi (the Counselor) gained her trust after which Loy told her about all the details of being raped twice.

Usually survivors are only allowed to remain at the shelter for six months however Loy was admitted to shelter in August 2015 and has not been reintegrated, as she doesn’t know where her mother is so she can’t return to Thailand. Further, Loy has no family in Cambodia, and no birth certificate.

Given her circumstances and even though Loy is only 15, we approved her to get training in Hairdressing and Beauty skills from a professional salon near the shelter.

We visited the salon and met the trainer along with three other skills training Awardees from the program and found Loy is doing particularly well. The Trainer is impressed by Loy’s capability and has agreed to employ her at the Salon after her training is completed and until Loy is old enough to go out on her own or finds a job she likes somewhere else.


Loy has a very sweet nature and is naturally very likeable.

Soknyi (Counselor): “When she first arrived she could not speak Khmer and only wanted to return to Thailand. She isolated herself, stayed in her room alone. When she saw rape scenes on TV movies she became very upset, agitated and nervous. She was afraid of men."

Because Loy was first identified as trafficked to labour, Soknyi’s counseling did not focus on her experiences of rape. Loy was intent on getting back to Thailand and which was not safe for her so Soknyi worked on changing her mind about leaving the shelter and going back to Thailand. They gave her a sense that one day her mother would turn up and take her back to Thailand. She was then given activities such as craft, sewing and painting to occupy her and take her mind off her loneliness and thinking only of being in more familiar environs.

When she confided her rape to Soknyi, Loy was advised she was not alone in having been raped and that there are a lot of young girls in the shelter that have had the same experience. She learned in order to deal with the experience it helps to express it. Soknyi also made her feel safe by telling her that this is a secure facility, no one can harm you here, and therefore you can relax.

Loy quickly followed Soknyi’s advice and began to relax about being at the shelter.

By now and since she’s now been with the program since August 2015, she is asking to be reintegrated with any of her friends when they leave for their village.

Soknyi explained to her how no one knows what will happen should you go to a village where you have no family, even your friends will have their responsibilities and won’t be able to care for you. Fortunately Loy was interested in the Skills Training Award and is now on her way to financial independence with skills that will have a tremendous impact on her long-term happiness.

According to Soknyi’s assessment, Loy has recovered almost fully from her trauma and will continue her training. 

Thank you for your continued support of this integral program.

Loy in Skills Training.
Loy in Skills Training.
Loy in Skills Training.
Loy in Skills Training.
CTC Therapists working with survivors.
CTC Therapists working with survivors.
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The talented Sros with her client!
The talented Sros with her client!

Sros was born in Serey Sophon City, Banteay Meanchey Province. She is the second oldest child among her other two siblings. Sros had a difficult time in school, so she dropped out to help her parents sell food.

When Sros was 13-years-old she was raped by an older boy. Fortunately before things could have gotten even worse her father found Sros and the older boy in a nearby hut. Her father sought legal service from Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center. He requested health care and counseling for his daughter. Sros was then referred to CWCC’s safe shelter on the 20th of March 2017.

Sros said, “When I first moved to the shelter, I felt so worried if people knew about my case. I felt so much pity for myself that I brought such an embarrassing issue to my family. I wish to go back in time so that I could change what I had done.” She added that she did not want to go back home. She felt ashamed with her neighbors and friends who would know of her case.

In the beginning, Sros was always alone and did not join in on any activities for the first few weeks in the safe shelter. However, she recovered day by day as she received counseling and encouragement from the registered counselors. She started to communicate, build relationships, and get close to others who were residing in the shelter. She is now able to share her experiences in big and small group counseling and participate in other activities.

In the shelter, Sros also learned sewing and make up skills. After six months of studying, Sros is able to use her skills to earn an income by working for a beauty salon. There she is paid 50000 riels ($12.50) per wedding ceremony. She will be paid 80000 riels ($20) per wedding soon after she gets more experience with the job. Sros is overjoyed by her new found talent. She loves what she is doing, and she is finally able to begin supporting herself with a salary.

After getting through such a bitter experience, she told herself to be a good daughter and student and always listen to her parents and teachers’ advice. Sros has such immense emotional strength that she was able to go to in front of the court and explain her case to the judge. Her case has since been closed. The suspect was convicted and charged to pay her 2,000,000 riels ($500) in compensation, and he was sent to prison for two and a half years.

Thank you to all of the donors that support survivors like Sros. Without your help, we would not be able to provide opportunities to those that have been mistreated and abused.

*White blocks on Sros and her clients face are to protect their identity. 

Sros with a client
Sros with a client
Sros and her client
Sros and her client
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Clients participate in weekly meetings
Clients participate in weekly meetings

Hello to our supporters!

Between January and June 2017, our program crisis center in Banteay Meanchey admitted 32 survivors of sexual assault and human trafficking. In addition, 30 relatives of survivors also sought shelter. Within the last six months, the sexual abuse and domestic violence cases have stayed the same compared to the previous six months. However, the number of migration related issues like human trafficking have increased due to the increasingly strict anti-migration laws in Thailand.

Thailand, a popular destination for migrants including Cambodian migrants, has recently passed new governmental laws that punish both employers and migrant workers for undocumented migration. Below is a story about Chantha, a child Cambodian migrant who was sent back to Cambodia under these new laws.

Chantha*, age twelve, is the eldest of five siblings. Chantha’s education was cut short when her family was split apart due to her parents both working as migrant workers. Chantha and her siblings have migrated between Thailand and Cambodia over four times since she was 9-years-old. While Chantha was recently in Thailand, her parents arranged for her to sell flowers and candies to make some money. Separated from her parents and sleeping on the streets, Chantha was arrested by the Thai police. She was then sent to a Thai shelter called Kreddakan. Chantha stayed in the shelter for seven months before she was repatriated back to Cambodia through the Poipet Transit Center of Cambodian Ministry of Social Affairs. She was then referred from the Poipet Transit Center to CWCC on 31 May 2017.

When she arrived at the CWCC’s safe shelter the counselor observed that Chantha was feeling anxious about being far away from her family. At this time, she had not seen her family for almost a year. She was very shy and wouldn’t interact with the other kids in the shelter.

The counselor provided counseling to her and encouraged Chantha to explore her feelings. Chantha joined group counseling sessions to share her story and learned to play and work with other clients to reduce stress. She did so by making souvenirs, painting pictures, playing with toys and games.

The counselor monitored her frequently and conducted follow-up appointments to see her progress. After receiving counseling, Chantha was happy and participated in group activities. She worked through her feelings of homesickness and started to enjoy the shelter community. While in therapy, Chantha expressed wanting to go to school. Per her request, the counselor helped her enroll her in a nearby school. Currently she is in good health, both physically and emotionally. She is loving the second grade and would like to be a nurse in the future.

Chantha would like to thank all of the donors who have provided this safe shelter to her where she is able to seek counseling and attend school. We hope to connect her with her family in the future.

Chantha*is a name given by the writer. Her real name is hidden to protect her privacy in according to child protection policy of CWCC.




This client likes to read in her spare time
This client likes to read in her spare time
Weekly large group counseling
Weekly large group counseling
Weekly small group counseling
Weekly small group counseling
Individual counseling
Individual counseling
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Lotus Outreach

Location: Ojai, California - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @lotusoutreach
Project Leader:
Maya Norbu
Ojai, CA United States
$27,562 raised of $30,000 goal
627 donations
$2,438 to go
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