Understanding and meeting the needs of victims of human trafficking: Survivors perspective on enhancing service provision

Project: Research project

Project Details


Understanding and meeting the needs of victims of human trafficking: Survivors perspective on enhancing service provision Understanding and meeting the needs of victims of human trafficking: Survivors? perspective on enhancing service provision Abstract Objective: The illegal international trade in human beings has recently emerged as one of the major social justice challenges of our day. The purpose of this 2-year mixed-method study is to help social workers provide better services to victims, or survivors, of human trafficking. Background: Human trafficking refers to the trade of human beings for the purposes of exploitation, typically in the form of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor {Androff 2010}. According to United States (US) government estimates, anywhere from 14,500 to over 50,000 people are trafficked into the US each year {Siskin& Wyler 2013}. Once in the US, victims are physically and psychologically coerced to serve traffickers interests in what has been referred to as a form of contemporary slavery. Due to the manipulative methods used by traffickers to subjugate and control their victims, substantial psychological damage is inflicted. For example, survivors typically wrestle with elevated rates of depression and substance use. The US Department of State {!US Department of State 2012} has highlighted the critical role that social workers can play in assisting victims of trafficking recover from the resulting psychological trauma. Little research, however, has been conducted to ascertain how survivors can cope with and overcome the challenges they encounter. Furthermore, survivors perspectives regarding how best to meet their needs is essentially absent from the peer reviewed literature. This represents a major oversight. Incorporating victims perspective is a fundamental social work value and essential to understanding and meeting clients needs, particularly the needs of vulnerable individuals. The proposed study seeks to address this gap in the literature by soliciting survivors perspective on enhancing service provision to this population. Methods: To solicit survivors perspectives, a cross-sectional survey design will be used. To maximize variation in the sample and mitigate geographic biases, participants will be recruited from agencies around the nation who provide services to survivors. Surveys will be offered in various formats (paper, electronic, URL link to website), and translated into the survivors language of choice, to facilitate administration and data collection. A constant comparative methodology will be used to analyze the qualitative data. The intended sample size of 150 is adequately powered to detect medium effect sizes (f = .15) in multivariate regression models with up to 15 variables. Implications: As the first study to examine survivors perspective on service provision, this study has the potential to shape national discourse on service provision to survivors. This study will shed light on the services needed to escape trafficking; how social workers can assist victims, strategies survivors use to cope, and the effectiveness of the identified strategies in ameliorating depression and substance use. As such, the results will help inform social work advocacy, education, and practice in the area of human trafficking. Toward this end, the results will be distributed to participating service providers around the nation and disseminated in the peer-reviewed literature.
Effective start/end date9/1/138/31/17


  • New York Community Trust: $40,000.00


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