From the first moment of imprisonment, victims of trafficking are exposed to intense physical and mental abuse. In order to break them down to submission, traffickers will beat, starve, isolate and rape victims for as long or as many times as it takes. Some traffickers keep their victims under lock and key. Less blatant techniques are much more common. Some examples include:
- Debt bondage victim "owes" the trafficker money that is nearly
impossible to pay off;
- Isolation from the publiclimiting victims' contacts with outsiders and making sure that any contacts they do have are monitored or superficial in nature;
- Confiscation of identification documents like visas, passports and/or other;
- Use or threat of violence against the victims or the victims' family or friends;
- Use or threat of shaming the victims by exposing their circumstances (particularly in situations of sexual exploitation) to family or friends
- Convincing victims they will be imprisoned or deported if they are discovered;
- Control of the victims' money, e.g., holding their income for "safe-keeping."
Traffickers are adept in refining and adapting these techniques. Their aim – whether used singly or in combination – is to instill fear and a sense of futility in victims.
People who are trafficked suffer short- and long-term ailments. Drug addiction, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, mental illness, and malnutrition are just a few of the potential problems.
As a result of their ordeal, these problems, as well as later fertility troubles, often plague them for the rest of their lives. The World Bank estimates that women of reproductive age who experience rape and other gender-based violence can lose between 5- 16% of the healthy years of their life.
Broken bones can set, open wounds can heal, and bruises can fade. But the mental scars of slavery linger far longer. When treated like an animal and called an animal, slaves can easily internalize that message of degradation. Many live in dank settings and must perform sexual acts for 14-18 hours a day, seven days a week. Under such circumstances, minds begin to decay and deaden. Often isolated for years, slaves are deprived of love, friendship, affection – even the daily dose of perfunctory civility that most of us take for granted.