Nurturing resilience in sex trafficking survivors

The guests who come to Azalea experience many hardships and traumatic incidents. When pain is traumatic it continues to exist within the body. We carry it. Trauma is a severe and lasting emotional shock and pain caused by an extremely upsetting experience. It does not end just because the event has passed. The emotions of that experience live on in the body. They continue to exist as if the events which caused them are still happening today, even if they happened in childhood.

People who have experienced repeated hardship have a lens through which they see the world. This state of being says that everything, and everyone is a threat. There is a sense that the pain will never be over, and something bad is coming. You are stuck, and everything is hopeless. You have tried everything you could to survive and it didn’t work, things are never going to change. Everyone might hurt you. Don’t trust anyone.

It is so important that when this type of pain is held in the body, that people are given a new lens to look through. A lens in which the world is safe and people can be kind, even when hard things happen. This allows the body to calm down and relax again from it’s heightened, distressed state.

Freda, one of our Azalea guests spoke about this. She often comes to Azalea stressed, loud, and unable to relax. She spent 25 minutes in silence, as she practiced deep breathing with one of our volunteers. She visualised a place of peace and thanked Jesus that he is with us and brings peace when all around us is stressful. She said that instead of starting her day in a place of stress, the next day she would practise her deep breathing and thank Jesus that he is with her. When she did this she was able to stop and make choices to take care of herself. She showered, ate, and felt much better.

It would be easy to focus on the pain and be consumed by it. How can we shift that lens into one which is resilient? Gratitude allows us to view things through a lens which maintains the positive emotions inside of us. This is not avoidance, we still can see clearly the painful things, however they do not consume the view.

Gratitude increases our wellbeing. It causes us to more intensely feel positive emotions and recognise them more often in daily life. Grateful people are more likely to dwell on positive things. They are said to view the world through a lens of altruism and hope. They view others as giving selflessly, with no expectation of return. Research studies conclude that practicing gratitude increases our wellbeing (Rash, Matsuba, and Prkachin, 2011), (Komase et al, 2021). When we change the lens through which we view things we don’t lose the joy and beauty of life when painful things happen. Emotional experiences are often very powerful but they also can be shifted. One of the ways we increase our resilience to distress is to increase our gratitude.


Komase, Y., Watanabe, K., Hori, D., Nozawa, K., Hidaka, Y., Iida, M., Imamura, K. and Kawakami, N., (2021). Effects of gratitude intervention on mental health and well-being among workers: A systematic review. Journal of Occupational Health, 63(1), p.e12290.

Rash, J.A., Matsuba, M.K. and Prkachin, K.M., (2011). Gratitude and well‐being: Who benefits the most from a gratitude intervention?. Applied Psychology: Health and Well‐Being, 3(3), pp.350-369.

Other news articles

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.

Select how you would like to give