Almost 19 million people worldwide are victims of sex trafficking, a $32 billion a year industry¹ and the fastest growing criminal enterprise. Our recent book, Sex Trafficking: A Clinical Guide for Nurses, by Mary de Chesnay, is the first guide for health care workers who may assess and treat victims of sex trafficking.
“Although millions of people live in unthinkable conditions today as victims and hostages of the global sex trade, they are largely invisible to health care professionals who should be able to recognize, treat, and refer them for long-term help,” said de Chesnay, a nursing professor and private-practice psychotherapist specializing in child sexual abuse and victims of trafficking.
“We see a ‘prostitute’ instead of a victim of exploitation, or a ‘bad kid’ instead of a little child who was raped at home and then repeatedly exploited by her pimp on the street. I hope this book will raise awareness and help nurses identify and care for this neglected population.”
In the United States, sex trafficking victims often have been sent from other continents, do not speak English, and know little about American health care and their rights. They have been starved, beaten, gang-raped, and may even be forcefully addicted to drugs. To make things more difficult, a primary barrier in treating victims of sex trafficking is separating the patient from her pimp or handler, who exerts tight control over her life, speech, and interaction with health care providers. The new de Chesnay book offers strategies for overcoming this and other barriers.
Sex Trafficking: A Clinical Guide for Nurses also presents information on working with law enforcement and affecting; as well as interventions for clinical practice. Best practices are offered on caring for malnutrition, pregnancy and its termination, drug-abused women and children, sexually transmitted infections, physical trauma, and mental health issues, among other problems commonly seen in this population.
“I want nurses to not just care for the physical ailments of this vulnerable population, but to work within their own community to address this issue, educate others, and help change legislation,” commented de Chesnay. “This can be a painful book to read, but it is a significant one. Find a way to ease your tension in reading it. But don’t lose your anger. Keep that and find a way to use it.”