Home Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy Art Therapy Offers New Hope to a Young Woman Overcoming the Scars of Sex Trafficking and Abuse

Art Therapy Offers New Hope to a Young Woman Overcoming the Scars of Sex Trafficking and Abuse

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A woman in her 20s who has been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID) and complex posttraumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) faces a challenging path in processing her experiences of sex trafficking and abuse.

Causes of her complex PTSD were childhood physical, and emotional abuse, sex trafficking, and long-term exposure to crises. This repeated trauma of sexual abuse instigated dissociative identity disorder by using multiple identity fragments for the various repeated traumatic experiences.

The client has been struggling to process and heal from her past trauma. She has tried traditional talk therapy, but she has found it to be ineffective. She is looking for a more creative and expressive way to express her emotions and experiences. The client was introduced to an art therapy kit that is specifically designed for individuals who have experienced trauma. The kit includes a variety of art supplies, project materials, as well as instructions for different art therapy exercises. 

Trauma wounds

This artwork helped her to express the pain and trauma that she had experienced, fragmenting her identity. The different personas symbolised by the heads helped compartmentalise the events, which she has tried not to remember. By taking a moment and halting, she recognised the emotional and physical changes that suddenly gave her sharp sensations from the traumatic memories.

Deflowered

The client created a picture of a flower that represented her being deflowered. The loss of her innocence and then perpetual abuse and sex trafficking left open emotional wounds from the trauma. Being used for sexual gratification was painful, and continues to feel similar to a cut, or open wound.

Self-awareness

The client created a picture of a woman with a heart cut out and dark, taped-over eyes. This picture represents her mother, who had been abusive and neglectful. The client said that this picture helped her to express her anger and resentment towards her mother with words and imagery.

Boundaries

The client has reconciled her needs and wants to heal and live a peaceful life. Prioritising self-care, the client has made a conscious choice to prioritise her well-being. Through establishing boundaries, the client is setting clear boundaries to protect her emotional and physical space and she will no longer tolerate being taken advantage of or manipulated. By allowing “good vibes only” she sets the tone and energy in her presence and filters out negative influences. She will not allow herself to be sold again, and she has embraced her newfound independence and confidence.

Bandaids

This picture represents the wounds that she experienced as a result of her trauma. She identified the need to “love yourself first” and to “have an open heart.”. The client said that this picture helped her feel seen and understood. Butterfly depicted her evolution and development in healing herself. Its transformation from a humble caterpillar to a vibrant winged creature mirrored the client’s journey of self-development and healing. It represented the resilience she had cultivated, the strength she had found within herself.

The metamorphosis symbolised her shedding of old wounds and embracing a new sense of freedom and empowerment. The delicate wings of the butterfly signified the fragility and vulnerability she had overcome, while the vibrant colours depicted the beauty and growth that had blossomed from her pain. This image offered her solace and a reminder that even in the darkest of times, transformation was possible. 

Results

The client was immediately drawn to the art therapy kit. She found that the art supplies were easy to use and that the instructions were clear and easy to follow. She enjoyed the different embellishments, stickers, collage materials, and cutouts that were included, which helped express her thoughts. She began using the kit regularly, and she quickly noticed a positive impact on her mental health and improved wellness. 

 

The client reported that the art therapy activities helped her to express her emotions in a way that she had not been able to do before. She said that the art therapy helped her feel more connected to her inner self and her past experiences. She also said that the art therapy helped her develop a sense of self-compassion and acceptance.

Overall, the client found the art therapy kit to be a valuable tool for her healing journey. “I swear, this is the coolest therapy!”  She said that this wellness kit helped her to process and heal from her past trauma, and it helped her to develop a more positive and fulfilling outlook on life. 

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