International Center for Women’s Rights
Protection and Promotion „La Strada”
Svetlana Chintea,
Social Assistant

Since the psychosocial approach to providing trafficked persons with assistance is a primordial factor in the process of assistance and monitoring of cases, the International Center for Women’s Rights Protection and Promotion “La Strada” develops aid and rehabilitation programs, which make it possible to meet beneficiaries’ requirements on a case-by-case basis. Social assistants – case managers, identify the needs of trafficked persons, as well as of their families, so that to later on satisfy these needs with the help of the system of referral to competent organizations that render specialized services.

In 2001-2006, more than 250 women with children enjoyed post-repatriation assistance on behalf of the International Center “La Strada”.


When analyzing the trafficked women’s needs, there have been identified challenges they face at different stages of reintegration and rehabilitation, the most significant being as follow:

  • stigmatization, blaming, social repulsion;
  • emotional alienation of relatives, loss of emotional bond with child, difficult relations with husband;
  • emotional imbalance, sense of guilt, fear/fury, health problems;

Such problems block the process of reintegration/rehabilitation, provoking:

  • inability to find a job;
  • lack of a dwelling place;
  • breaking/worsening of family relations;
  • lack of confidence in assistance offered by governmental authorities (medical, social, juridical).

Comprehensive interviewing of beneficiaries showed that relationship with children is one of the most evident challenges, which appeared as a result of mother’s absence, and children being left with other family members/strangers.


With a view of identifying the most efficient method of work with this group of beneficiaries, the following variables have been analyzed:

  • Time (improvement of relations between mother and child is a complex process, which requires a long-term intervention, comprising a series of successive therapeutic sessions);
  • Space (the place, where therapeutic sessions are held, has to inspire confidence);
  • Environment (social environment has to contribute to the process of improvement of mother and child relations);
  • Multilateral approach (efficiency of the result also depends on approach to the problem by a professional group, accessible on the round-the-clock basis, and composed of a social assistant, a psychologist, a psychopedagogue, and a priest).


Having analyzed the variables, which influence the efficiency of intervention, as well as possibilities of women and children to find time to therapeutic sessions, a summer camp was organized for trafficked women and their children, as a means of intervention.

Objective of Summer Camp’s work: stimulate the process of rehabilitation resocialization/reintegration of trafficked women, their relations with children being emphasized.

With a view of creating a favorable environment, as well as a non-blaming and non-stigmatizing atmosphere, the Summer Camp was organized in a convent.

Selection of this place was also conditioned by expectations/needs of the group of beneficiaries:

  • need to stay in a safe place;
  • need to discuss things with somebody, who understands and accepts the sentiments;
  • desire to escape from aggression directed to other persons;
  • need to communicate with the child in a calm environment;
  • desire to feel oneself calm and relaxed;
  • desire to have a feeling of “clean” body and soul;
  • desire to find out more about spiritual life;
  • need to confess to a priest.
Selected for the Summer Camp beneficiaries belong to different regions of the Republic of Moldova, they did not know each other before, and are of different age. These differences allowed them to communicate more freely, as well as to share experience in child-rearing practices.

Due to the fact that the selected children were of different age, the inhomogeneity of the group was a good example of successful relations between people of different age, interests, sex.

To obtain efficient and long-lasting results, the group of beneficiaries was composed as follows:

  • number of participants –12 women and 12 children;
  • average age of women–25–35 years;
  • average age of children–pre-school and primary school age;
  • common identified problems – difficulties with family relations.

A team of psychologists, teachers, and social assistants was open to women and children on a round-the-clock basis, organizing joint activities or individual tasks, monitoring relations between mothers and children. Also, two priests were there to facilitate the dialogue and organize spiritual conciliation.

Women and children had a possibility to address at any time to one of the professionals and get a consultation, and this served to beneficiaries as a good example of non-conditioned acceptance and assistance.

During their stay in the Summer Camp, women had discussed the following topics:

  • security;
  • confidence;
  • control.

Security is intimately related to situations of confidence, whereas because traumatic experience involves aggression and/or indifference of other persons, distrust becomes a problem. After coming back home, women try to regain the feeling of strength and to control the persons they know. Such control is perceived by others as indication on lack of confidence and attempt to influence their decisions.

Security, confidence, and control are the three states, which are absent in the trafficking situation. Coming back to their country, women face difficulties with feeling secure in the society and, sometimes, in the circle of friends. Also, the fear for their children’s security also proved to be a challenge for women.

Additional challenges, identified in this connection:

  • women try to control or influence other persons;
  • women do not feel their children are secure;
  • women want, but can not extend their personal circle of trust to include the family.


Women relive the sense of guilt in connection with traumatic experience, they feel „used” and „dirty”, which provokes and/or aggravates a low self-esteem and a sensation of lack of power that is compensated by aggressive behavior.

Upon return to their country, women get themselves to „leave behind” negative experience and regain the time they did not spend on education of their children. Yet, being deprived of assistance on behalf of psychologist, such women risk to perceive their daughters as „good, but without any future...”, and their sons as „good, but who will become bad when they grow”.

Additional challenges, identified in this connection:

  • women perceive themselves as the ones who do not deserve good life;
  • women neglect/deny their body, whereas the desire to feel/look better is perceived as a shame;
  • women perceive themselves as bad mothers, particularly at the moments when their children get in trouble (accidents, conflicts, problems at school ,etc.).

Interpersonal Relations and Non-Violent Communication

Upon return to their country, a big part of women are rejected, together with their children, by relatives and the community. Such attitude does not contribute to the welfare of women and their children, and the additional problem a woman faces is that her child was left either with relatives, or with just slightly known persons, who brought up the child. In such situations the child would be perceived as a burden, playing the role of the „scapegoat” for all emerging problems, feeling his/her guilt for mother’s absence, and, as a result, the child would not forgive his/her mother for the fact that she allowed him/her „to drift”.

In a trafficking situation the woman „learns” that any “wrong” word or movement (from the standpoint of abuser) might cost her life. The woman is taught not to discuss and not to share her sentiments. After coming back home and being accepted by their family members, women are embarrassed by their relatives’ questions; other women are met in a „neutral” manner – they are already stigmatized without being asked what happened to them.

Additional challenges, identified in this connection:

  • lack of communication with child;
  • manifestation of anxiety in relations with other persons (particularly with strangers);
  • unwillingness to work in group;
  • denial of other people’s ideas;
  • aggressive reaction to criticism or recommendations.

The following problems were analyzed in the process of work with children:

The more positive child’s self-assessment is, the more successful he/she will be in solving daily situations; negative self-assessment is intimately connected with the lack of belief in self, sense of lack of security, experienced failures, anxiety, depressive state, and brutal behavior.


Whereas during the first 4-5 years of their life children are influenced by their parents, who contribute to development of child’s self-assessment, lack of parent (especially, mother), and then perception of the situation as being abandoned, provokes problems connected not only with child’s self-assessment.

Additional challenges, identified in this connection:

  • reduced level of  self-assessment;
  • aggressive communication as a mechanism of coping, manifested for reduced self-assessment.

Separation and Interpersonal Relations

In case of separation, the child is deprived of the „significant other”, or such a person starts to be perceived as bad, because she/he left the child alone; yet, in the majority of cases, a traumatic separation with mother makes a child feel that she/he is not loved by mother any more.

During the first years of life, the child is relying on the „significant other” – a person, who guides and takes care of him/her in the course of primary  socialization.

“Significant other” protects, punishes, and encourages, contributing to development of interpersonal relations with the child.

Child’s sense of loneliness and incapacity to alter the traumatic situation, fear of being „lost”, separated from his/her relatives, creates obstacles for further child’s socialization and behavior.

Additional challenges, identified in this connection:

  • fury, desire to take revenge, violent behavior;
  • behavior-related problems, manifested at school (in relations with the like,
    with teachers);
  • despair and helplessness;
  • lack of parental authority;
  • passivity in social contacts.

Applied Work Techniques:

Elements from the following techniques were selected to be used in the work with mothers and children:

  • anxiety management (including techniques of relaxing, positive thinking);
  • psychoeducation;
  • art-therapy;
  • ergotherapy.
The following methods of work were used at the Summer Camp:
  • work in groups;
  • work in teams;
  • work in pairs;
  • individual sessions.


The set forth materials can be replicated as best practice for organization of rehabilitation and reintegration activities, carried out by psychologists and social assistants, as to:  

  • create support groups;
  • improve relations between mother and child;
  • ensure psychological comfort;
  • establish mutual support and confidence relations.