Youth Experiences Survey: A two-year Study on the Combined Experiences of Homelessness and Sex Trafficking

Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, Kristen Bracy, Laura Massengale & Melissa Brockie | September 11 | 9:00 - 10:00 AM | Room 3010A

Little is known about the sex trafficking experiences of homeless young adults in the state of Arizona. The chaotic and unpredictable nature of homelessness puts individuals at heightened risk for sexual exploitation due to survival strategies such as sex trading or survival sex. The life experiences of a random sample of homeless young adults in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona were collected through paper and pencil surveys administered from drop-in centers and street outreach efforts (N=246). Results of the initial study demonstrated that 25.6% of study participants reported a history of sex trafficking. LGBTQ young adults were significantly more likely to report a sex trafficking experience (33, 38.4%) than heterosexual young adults. Sixty-five percent of study participants who had a history of sex trafficking also reported having a sex trafficker at one point, with nine participants reporting having a sex trafficker at the time of the study. The childhood, behavioral and untreated issues that created risk factors for sex trafficking vulnerability were extensive. In the majority of the comparisons between the sex trafficked and non-sex trafficked young adults, significant differences were found with the sex trafficked group having many more negative experiences, behaviors and untreated issues. Techniques used to address these issues and the challenges of providing services to homeless victims of sex trafficking will be discussed.

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