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The Psychological Experience of Child and Adolescent Sex Trafficking in the United States: Trauma and Resilience in Survivors
Cecchet, S. J.,
Year Published: 2014
Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
American Psychological Association (APA)
In this qualitative study, the authors analyzed the narratives of six survivors of child and adolescent sex trafficking to assess factors that influenced their ability to survive, leave the sex trade, and reintegrate back into the community. At the survivor microsystem level, participants’ insecure attachments led to their vulnerability to recruitment; they left the industry because of pregnancy or mental health symptoms. Within the mesosystem, unsafe relationships contributed to increased emotional insecurities that were maintained when they entered the sex trade; when participants recognized the need for safe relationships and increased self-worth, they left the trade. In the macrosystem, participants were raised in environments that desensitized them to prostitution; after leaving the industry, they began processing their traumatic experiences through the mental health system. The authors discuss the clinical implications of these findings. Modified Author Abstract.