Hidden is a project that explores how to engage survivors of prolonged and repeated trauma in the creative process about how to best tell and represent their own personal stories. The project aims to advocate for increased access to psychosocial support for the survivors.
Kenya is a nexus of trafficking in East Africa, as young Kenyans and an influx of young people from neighboring countries compete for work opportunities. It makes for easy pickings for human traffickers, who use the promise of good jobs to draw their victims into a host of terrifying situations.
The women in the HIDDEN series were victims of forced labor, forced marriage, and sex trafficking. They were lured by promises of education; sold outright by family members and forced into domestic servitude or prostitution, or sent away by family to marry a stranger. Some of the women were exploited by someone they already knew, such as a relative, a neighbor, or a friend. Unfortunately, most victims don’t even understand what’s happening until it’s far too late. Stuck in a web of secrecy and lies, they struggle to figure out how to escape.
The long-term consequences of human trafficking can be severe. A trafficking experience impacts every areas of a survivor’s life. Unlike most other violent crimes, trafficking usually involves prolonged and repeated trauma. Every stage of the trafficking process can involve physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, including but not limited to violence, torture, the forced use of substances, and manipulation. This, of course, results in serious psychological effects during and after a trafficking experience. Many survivors are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, memory loss, anxiety, fear, guilt, shame, and other severe forms of mental trauma.
Human trafficking is an issue that touches every community, including cities, suburbs, and rural towns—and there is something each of us can do to help prevent it. The Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign provides plenty of opportunities for individuals or organizations to raise awareness about human trafficking. Lend your time, talent, and skills to the movement. Volunteer to mentor young girls and boys to foster self-respect, as well as respect for women. Reduce your slavery footprint by only consuming products that are fair trade or have traceable supply chains.