“What I Wanted was the Drugs”: Heroin as a Method of Control in a Case Study on Sex Trafficking


Jesse Bach, PhD; George Tsagaris, PhD & Christine Buddner, MSW | September 20 | 9:00-10:00 AM

Topic: Research | Knowledge Level: Intermediate, Advanced

The existing body of literature recognizes the presence of force, fraud, and coercion as salient indicators of sex trafficking. The researchers of this study completed a narrative analysis from court transcripts of a sex trafficked survivor who was coerced into the sex trade through her existing opiate addiction. The process through which the sex trafficker used heroin to initially gain access, and as a continual means of control are examined and discussed in this study. Findings indicate that, in this particular case, the victims came from a family of lower socio- economic status, possessed a lower level of education, little to no marketable skills, minimal work experience and had an existing drug addiction lending credence to the work of Norton- Hawk (2004) and Deshpande and Nour (2013), which explored the demographics of trafficked women. This case study demonstrates the need for further qualitative research which examines the way opiate addictions are exploited by sex traffickers so as to develop early interventions and strategies.

Presentation Objectives:

·  Examine heroin as a method of control in sex trafficking.

·  Describe how sex trafficking and opiate addiction are intertwined.

·  Discuss salient indicators of opiate addiction.

·  Illustrate how legal opiate prescriptions can lead to heroin addiction and sex trafficking.

About the Presenters