The impact of working with human trafficking survivors

KENNY, Megan, STANIFORTH, Lisa and VERNALS, Joyce (2022). The impact of working with human trafficking survivors. Traumatology.

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Human trafficking is a growing public health crisis, one that is estimated to have affected at least 40.3 million people worldwide. Existing literature focuses on the lack of proficiency in identifying victims of trafficking by professionals in multiple frontline services, with a lack of focus on the psychological cost, to individual service providers, of providing aftercare to one of society’s most vulnerable populations. This aftercare requires complex support delivered by specialist services that are routinely underfunded. Although existing research focuses on support and burnout in professionals within related settings, such as social workers and health-care providers, little focus has been given to the impact of supporting survivors of human trafficking. The current study conducted semistructured interviews with nine female volunteers at an antitrafficking charity to explore the effects of providing support to survivors of human trafficking. Participants held a variety of roles within the charity (e.g., counselor, senior caseworker, voluntary caseworker, local coordinator, team administrator, or community facilitator). A thematic analysis identified two main themes, with associated subthemes: first, the impact of working with survivors (burnout and vicarious trauma, privilege and awareness) and, following on from this, the methods used to manage this impact (boundaries, counseling, supervision, and team support). These findings provide important insight into the effects that supporting survivors of human trafficking have on service providers and highlight that there is still significant work to do in terms of providing appropriate support to those working with this extremely vulnerable population.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ©American Psychological Association, 2022. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. The final article is available, upon publication, at:
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1103 Clinical Sciences; 1117 Public Health and Health Services; 1701 Psychology
Identification Number:
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2022 14:34
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2023 09:47

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