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
Feb 2, 2018

Trafficking in Cambodia

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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Lotus Outreach

Location: Ojai, California - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @lotusoutreach
Project Leader:
Maya Norbu
Ojai, CA United States
$27,672 raised of $30,000 goal
630 donations
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