Rebuilding a Life: Part 1 – Equine Therapy

Restoring the soul of a broken women is not just a simple matter of rescuing the fair maiden from the dragon’s den. Women who have been sexually trafficked have far more problems to face than simply being removed from their trafficking situations. Some trafficking victims may have been forced into sexual slavery at a very young age, and have no work history, no job resumes, no life skills to call upon when they’re freed from their captors. Some women may not even speak English—or may even have been illegally smuggled into the United States with the American dream tantalizingly dangled before their eyes, only to find the reality a nightmare they could never have imagined. Sometimes, taking the chains off a captive isn’t really the same thing as setting the captive free—if she has no idea how to use her freedom. This series will discuss the specific ways that Hepzibah House hopes not only to free these women from their physical slavery, but also their emotional, spiritual and mental slavery.

What is Equine Therapy?

According to, “Equine therapy is the discipline of using horses as a means to provide metaphoric experiences in order to promote emotional growth.” Basically, horses teach people about themselves. The lessons taught by Equine therapists require a great deal of self-examination. How the horse responds to stimuli is often the same way that people do. This therapy has proven to be “very effective with patients who manifest depression, attention-deficit, conduct disorders, dissociative disorders, anxiety, dementia, autism, and many other related disorders.” The positive benefits of Equine therapy include “confidence, self-efficacy, self-concept, communication, trust, perspective, decreased isolation, self-acceptance, impulse control, social skills, boundaries, and spiritual connection.”

How Will This Help Trafficking Victims?

All of this is impressive, sure—but how does it apply specifically to trafficking victims?

Victims of any form of sexual abuse often suffer from depression, low self-esteem, struggle in interpersonal relationships, and have symptoms of posttraumatic stress. In addition, some of the signs specific to sex trafficking victims include fear and overly submissive behavior. Each of these areas of bondage could be addressed through use of Equine therapy.

Will Equine Therapy “Cure” Victims? 

Not by itself, certainly. Many other programs are planned to help meet all the varying needs these women will have, and at a certain point, each woman will have to want to be free. Obviously, it will take more than just spending time with horses for these women to truly heal and experience real freedom from their bonds—but Hepzibah House is excited about the potential to have this powerful, life-changing therapy available nonetheless.