The psychological impacts upon women and children coming out of prostitution are some of the most difficult aspects of rehabilitation to deal with. These women and children are impacted at every developmental level. Because of the situations they have found themselves in they are very fearful. The physical pain and suffering they have endured pales in comparison to the emotional trauma they have experienced.
An important thing to remember is that each child has their own unique psychological needs. Although I am running an “across the board” analysis in look at these psychological needs, they will vary from person to person.
Women and children coming out of prostitution will deal with a severe loss of control; they feel a certain loss of connection with the “world” and their ability to live in it. This loss of control is often coupled with anxiety, fear, terror, insomnia, flashbacks, nightmares, etc.
There can be activities and symbols that trigger the flashbacks. For example, there often tends to be an association of doors opening and closing with customers they have served. For prostitutes this association can take place with the opening ad closing of car doors. This then leads them into the bonds that keep them in prostitution. These can range from fear of threats put upon them and/or their family, lots of self blame, feeling trapped and betrayed, an extreme amount of financial debt, and any amount of addiction.
Because of the way they have been treated while in prostitution there is a great breakdown of trust within people in rehabilitation. They tend to have an understanding of faith in terms of justice. Their circumstances and inability to trust is then linked to low self-esteem and an inability to trust God.
Physical and psychological healing for these persons takes place in context of relationships. They say 60% of women and children will go back into prostitution at some point during the rehabilitation process [stat from CSET course taken at Fuller]. But what if going back into prostitution is somewhat a natural or essential part of their healing process? This is the life that they have always known, they have extreme fear still linked to it, and a lack of options for doing much else (and certainly for making as much money to provide for themselves, their family, or addiction issues).
Bottom line: it is hard, it takes a long time and it is different for every person. Don’t give up!