Although healing from sex trafficking was not an easy process for me, it has been a beautiful journey that I would not trade for anything. This page lists tips, services and strategies I have learned along the way over the past eleven years. Of course, every person's experience is different; what works for one person may not be helpful for another - nothing is a one-size-fits-all. I suggest learning as much as you can, and doing what you feel is best for you...
My wish is for each one of us to find peace and joy.
A couple of years after leaving my trafficker, I realized I needed trauma-specific therapy. it has made an incredible improvement in my quality of life. Showing up week after week was not easy, but I knew I owed myself at least an hour of soul-searching hard work with a professional every week; if I survived seven years of non-stop abuse, I could certainly survive therapy.
Choosing a therapist
Finding the right therapist for me took some time. I learned early on to keep looking if I was working with a therapist that didn't feel like a good fit. I continued to research people in my area, and eventually found some excellent help. One strategy I found helpful was to spend sometime looking online at different therapist's websites. Once I found two or three that I liked, I set up a phone consultation, which helped me get a better feel for the practitioner.
Male or female?
My first therapist was a male who identified as gay, and that was perfect for me. I didn’t feel like I could relate to other women, and I certainly didn’t think I could work with a straight man, as I knew issues around sex and sexuality would inevitably arise.
LMFT, PhD or psy-d?
- An LMFT is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, although they also work with individuals like myself. LMFT’s must have a Master’s Degree in Psychology, as well as a license to practice therapy. Most of my therapy has been with an LMFT who specialized in trauma and PTSD.
- A PhD therapist is someone who has a doctorate in Psychology, as well as a state license to see clients. In my experience, PhD’s have a deeper of understanding of the brain and how it works. PhD’s usually have a lot of experience in research, which you may find helpful. They are usually more expensive than LMFT’s. I have done a few sessions with a few different PhD therapists over the years, but the cost made long-term work difficult.
- A PsyD also has a doctorate in Psychology, with more emphasis on clinical work, meaning they spent more time working with clients when they were earning their degree, which can be a huge bonus. My current therapist is a PsyD and I feel as though she is equipped to work with me in a holistic manner, addressing mind, body & spirit issues.
paying for therapy
The number one reason people give for not going to therapy is the cost. I found there is always a way to get some level of help. Below are some of the services & strategies I have used over the years.
Victim's Compensation Fund
The Victim's Compensation Fund of California (VCP) paid for the majority of trauma therapy in my early days of healing. I was lucky to find a good trauma therapist who had worked with the fund in the past, so she understood how to bill them, and the process was quite smooth.
One barrier for me was filing a police report. I was terrified of my trafficker and worried he would hurt me. Filing a report was one of the most difficult things I had ever done, and I highly recommend asking for an advocate right away - I wish I had done so. Nothing ever came of the report I filed in terms of my trafficker - the three-year statute of limitations had run out, but I did get about 200 hours of trauma therapy from the VCP, which made walking through the fear of filing a report worth it.
All therapists should offer sliding scale, although all of their slots may be full at first. Sliding scale is when therapists charge their regular amount for those who can afford it, and then a discounted rate for those who are struggling financially. I always made a commitment to my therapists that I would show up to my appointments, and that I would be willing to do the work; I think this helped me gain access to a sliding scale spot on many occasions.