How Can Health Care Professionals Help Women Recover from Years of Captivity?

I was shocked to hear that three young women could be held captive in a city neighborhood for ten years and no one seemed to notice. One of them, the mother of the six year old girl, who allegedly was also raped, like her mother, finally got the courage up to get help. Kudos to the male neighbor who did not ignore her cries but actually helped her disable the locked door. Now the healing can begin for all three women and the young girl.

How Can Nurses and Other Health Care Professionals Help Emotionally Traumatized People?

  1. Ask them before touching them and describe any procedure, especially gyne exams before starting that invasive and potentially retraumatizing procedure. Be gentle. They are probably suffering from some degree of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  2. They will more than likely need extensive trauma based counseling to deal with the long years of captivity in order to regain their self-esteem, confidence and sense of personal safety.
  3. Remember physical trauma is like the tip of the iceberg. Even if traumatized women don’t show a lot of bruises or old broken bones, constant daily fear and probable belief they can never escape being in bondage to an “all powerful” captor leaves at least as serious emotional scars. I remember one young victim of rape feeling the examining doctor did not care or understand the depth of her feelings when he said in front of her that her “injuries were minor”.

How Can Parents Help Keep Their Precious Children Safe?

Hopefully no one reading this, nor your children, will ever experience rape or other forms of abuse from the people I was taught were there to “protect and provide for families, i.e. men”. I have always taken relationships slow, and was lucky when I was the most vulnerable ages between fourteen and twenty-five, to have older brothers and a father who demanded my boyfriends showed respect. The old belief that perpetrators are “strangers” does not protect young women against the more common date rape. The three young women, who were teens when they were taken probably were coaxed into their house prison by a charismatic neighbor with whom they were familiar. So now teaching our children not to get into cars or go into houses even with neighbors or parents of other children without their own parents’ approval is a necessary precaution.

Nurses/Health Care Professionals Can Help Encourage The Healing By Gentle Interventions, Referrals to Mental Health and Being Aware Many Wounds of Trauma Victims are Invisible!



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