Statement of the Problem: Thousands of minors are domestically sex trafficked annually in the United States. Victims ability to successful exit trafficking is thought to depend on structural factors including availability of appropriate services and support system developed post-trafficking, and their personal ability to separate psychologically from their traffickers manipulation. Restoration plans that address housing, education, and physical safety often fail as evidenced by high rates of running away or victim resistance to assistance. Even in situations where other needs are met, a sexually exploited minor may return to a trafficking situation if psychological separation from his/her trafficker is not achieved. Very little is known about the facilitators and barriers to leaving trafficking, including victims readiness to change.
Research Design and Methods: This exploratory, sequential mixed methods project investigates (a) actual and perceived facilitators and barriers (e.g., services, provider characteristics, etc.) victims encounter when attempting to exit a trafficking situation, and (b) readiness to change and other personal factors that may influence success. Following an in-depth qualitative phase, cross-sectional, self-report survey data will be collected from recently trafficked young adult women (n= 240) using an audio computer-assisted self-interviewing system.
Analysis: Qualitative data will be analyzed with an inductive, open coding approach guided by Grounded Theory Analysis. Quantitative analysis includes structural equation modeling to assess the validity of a readiness to change measurement model, path analyses to assess direct and indirect effects, and multivariate analyses to describe the frequency and nature of attempts to leave sex trafficking.
Subjects: Participants will be recruited from a sex trafficking survivors resource center and from the Clark County Juvenile Justice System. About 50 formerly sex trafficked women (18-21 years old) will be interviewed for the qualitative phase. An additional 240 trafficking victims (18-21 years old) will participate in the quantitative phase.
Partnerships: Research-practitioner partnerships were created with Clark County Juvenile Justice System and The Embracing Project, a sex trafficking survivors resource provider. Adult survivors of sex trafficking will play critical roles in the research design and implementation of a survey that will be used to assess readiness to change.
Products, Report, and Data Archiving: Planned scholarly products include final reports, publications, presentations and webinars. A validated readiness assessment will be one product service providers can use as a result of this research. Data cleaned of direct and indirect identifiers will be provided in accordance to National Archive of Criminal Justice Data for data archiving.
Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.