Posts in 2016
A Quantitative Analysis of Commercial Sex Advertisements During the 2015 Cincinnati All Star Game

To date, no research study has explored the relationship between human sex trafficking and national baseball sporting events. This engaging and didactic presentation will present valuable research findings related to the frequency and descriptive statistics associated with 4553 commercial sex advertisements listed during the 2015 All-Star Baseball Game. Of note, transgender commercial sex advertisements (N = 634) were the second highest type of listing. This presentation will provide valuable information regarding the intersectionality between race, gender, and perceived demand for commercial sex. Presenters will utilize an open format that promotes questions and deep discussion. Areas for future research and counseling implications will be addressed.


Presentation Objectives:

·         To develop a deeper understanding of the unique vulnerabilities associated with transgender women

·         To discuss the research findings associated with commercial sex advertisements posted during the 2015 All-Star Game

To understand the prevalence and risk factors contributing to the sexual exploitation of transgender persons

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Sitting Inside: Bringing Mindfulness Meditation to Prisoners

The United States has more people incarcerated than any other nation, with the fact of mass incarceration and its sequelae exponentially worse in communities of color. The challenges and barriers to successful community reentry are formidable for individuals returning back to the community from prison following incarceration, with higher rates of serious mental illness and substance use disorders among the criminal justice population contributing to higher rates of recidivism. The proposed presentation will present an overview and the outcomes from the UT Mindfulness Meditation program, a collaborative service-learning project between the University of Toledo, Department of Psychology and the Volunteers of America (VOA) Community Reentry Program located in Toledo. Participants in the program are individuals serving the last 3-6 months of their prison sentence at the VOA half-way facility. Participants complete an 8-week Mindfulness Meditation program facilitated by University faculty and graduate students, as well as community members.


The curriculum is framed within the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program by Kabat-Zinn (2003) and provides participants with psychoeducation about mindfulness meditation and self-regulation skills, along with an opportunity to practice a variety of mindfulness-based exercises, including mindful breathing, body scan, mindful movement, and mindful art activities. Pre and post outcome data are being collected to evaluate the effectiveness of the program in promoting better emotional regulation, mindfulness, and mental health functioning. Quantitative and qualitative results will be presented from two groups that have been completed to date, one with women and one with men, along with challenges and successes of the project.

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“After Your Honor is Gone…”: An Exploratory Investigation of Survivors Trafficked into the Brothels of Mumbai

India is a source, transit and destination country for trafficking in persons, especially women and girls. Mumbai, in particular, is a hot spot of commercial sex activity with trafficking as a major contributor to the brothel workers in its infamous red-light districts of Kamathipura and Falkland Road. Despite heightened interest in trafficking survivors in non-Western countries, most of the data comes from large-scale survey studies and most focused on HIV and physical health status. Rich qualitative data on the developmental trajectories of Commercial Sex Industry (CSI) survivors are largely nonexistent.

To help fill gaps in the literature, this study sought to: 1) Examine the childhood experiences of women working in the brothels of Mumbai; 2) Examine life within Mumbai’s CSI, with focus on participants’ adult relationships with family and key figures associated with brothel-based work (e.g., clients, brothel keepers, peers), and 3) to examine participants’ ability to exit Mumbai’s CSI if they so desired.

Data were collected in Kamathipura, one of Asia’s largest red-light districts and Falkland Road, a sister red-light slum district, 1km (.6 miles) from Kamathipura. Each houses approximately 5,000 – 7,500 brothel workers.

The PI collected interview data from brothel workers in Kamathipura (n =15) and Falkland Road (n =15); she was assisted by a bi-lingual (Hindi/English) doctoral student. Data were translated and transcribed into text. Transcripts were then analyzed using Thematic Analyses (Aronson, 1994); results of which will be presented.

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Human Trafficking in Nepal

Each year in Nepal an estimated 10,000-15,000 young girls are trafficked into slavery, most to India and the Middle East. They come from underprivileged families with little opportunity for the future. Many are deceived by traffickers who prey on the poor. These traffickers are networked both locally and globally with those who profit from modern day slavery. SAVE THE LIFE NEPAL promotes unity among those who want to end trafficking from Nepal.

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My Kid is Sexier Than Your Kid: Sexual Exploitation and its Influence on Modern- Day Sex Slavery

Today’s culture is teaching girls that, from toddler age on up, they have but one purpose: using their sex for someone else’s pleasure. Before they even know what sexuality is, girls are being shown to perform sexuality through the activities they engage in and the merchandise which they play with and wear. Furthermore, such merchandise activities are marketed to children throughout their development glorifying “pimp culture,” which in turn glamorizes and contributes to human trafficking. The presenters will explore toddler beauty pageants, under-10 pole and topless dancers, sexualized toys for minors, Hello Kitty joining forces with Playboy, and many other pop culture examples of the obsession with sexualizing young girls and contributing to the vulnerability of children which contributes greatly to forced sexual slavery.

Presentation Objectives:

·         Identify pop culture’s manner of sexualizing children from infancy to adolescence

·         Identify and discuss the ramifications of pop culture’s obsession with child sexualization for the individual, women & girls, and society as a whole

·         Identify the connection between sexual exploitation and human trafficking

Identify and implement ways to critically analyze and combat pop culture sexual exploitation of children

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At the root of any social justice cause, there must be a strong sense of identity of one’s self and the cause for which one is promoting. Most people lack a clear understanding of their own identity. When someone lacks identity, they scramble to find pieces of themselves in material things, other people and even social causes, and often harbor limiting beliefs, self-doubt, and a lack of self-esteem, which can result in subtle but insidious depression.


Until one finds their own identity and commits to training themselves in it, they are not in the best position to help themselves or others. They can bring challenges to the social cause they are promoting, and even cause harm to themselves. It is imperative for those who are promoting social justice against human trafficking to understand their own identity.


Diana understands the search for personal identity because she, too, scrambled to find her own identity, and wrote about it in her autobiographical book, “Inspiration in My Shoes.” After years of attaining higher education, working high-level corporate jobs, leading a non-profit organization, and joining social justice causes, she found that this identity struggle is all too common among the highly educated. The more confident she became in her own identity, the more effective she became at leading social change.


She helps people ground themselves in their own identity to equip social justice leaders in human trafficking prevention efforts, which can also alleviate the factors that make people vulnerable to trafficking.

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Health Care Needs of Child Victims of Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a health problem. Healthcare professionals play an important role in both identifying, treating and assisting victims of trafficking. Studies have shown that a majority of human trafficking victims report seeing a healthcare professional at some point while being trafficked. This presentation will focus on the scope and nature of child sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation in the United States. It will also address the health care needs of victims and how the medical provider may assist in detecting and identifying victims when they present with other complaints.

Presentation Objectives:

·         To be able to identify risk factors for exploitation as well as potential indicators of victimization of children.

·         To become familiar with health care needs of victims of human trafficking and how to address these needs and refer patients for medical care.

·         To be aware of how to make a report of suspected victimization as appropriate.

To become knowledgeable about available resources for victims and healthcare providers.

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Urban Migration and Newly Developed Forms of Trafficking in India

Previously, sex trafficking was the main topic of human trafficking study in India. But the post liberalization lifestyle changes in India has generated an increased demand for labor trafficking. Specifically, for people who can work in houses, offices, entertainment and the leisure industry which is largely informal in nature. Informal workers, make up 90% of the workforce in India which generally turn out to be labor trafficking situations.

The Indian real estate market is expected to gross $180 billion by 2020 where the housing sector alone contributes to 5-6% of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The real estate sector consists of four sub sectors - housing, retail, hospitality and commercial. There is huge demand for unskilled labor in real estate as well as for household assistance and domestic servitude. The demand is higher than the supply of man power resulting in women and children being pulled into cities to work in exploitative situations.


India is going to witness more trafficked victims in the form of domestic servitude and bonded labor along with a rise in illegal organ transplantation. The legal procedure to receive organ donation is too cumbersome that the recipient often dies before the official procedure gets completed. Consequently, traffickers are addressing this scenario by facilitating organs with the help of doctors in their network often by offering a huge share of what they get out of organ trading.

Presentation Objectives:

Attendees will learn about specific cases of labor trafficking as mentioned above.

i.e. Domestic servitude, workers in real estate as bonded laborers and illegal organ trading in India

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Occupational Therapy, Building Skills for a Success Story: A Survivor’s Journey

Through the story of a survivor of human trafficking, the impact of occupational therapy as a form of innovative treatment will be shared. A journey that includes breaking free from human trafficking, recovering from addiction, addressing and moving past life traumas, and learning how to live a new and successful life will be shared from a survivor and her occupational therapist. The most effective treatment for survivors of human trafficking include treatment involving, but not limited to job placement, independent living skills, housing, basic needs, health education, educational opportunities, trauma specific treatment, social skills, and any other needed skill building areas. As part of a team, occupational therapists address these issues holistically from assessment to treatment. Survivors of human trafficking benefit from skill development such as self-care, financial management, employment, meaningful activity, meal planning and preparation, community mobility, relationship development, problem solving, impulse control, and many other areas. Occupational therapy played a big role in the recovery of a survivor in Hancock County who will share her story to increase empathy for individuals who struggle with substance abuse, trauma, human trafficking, and life skill development. Through the lived experience of a survivor, a story from leaving her situation to building a coalition will be shared and how occupational therapy and a holistic approach to treatment was a success.

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In Search of Demystifying the Victim-Offender Dichotomy in NYC Sex Markets

In this presentation, we explore the often-overlooked realities of individuals who participate in illicit sex markets and we dismantle widespread misconceptions about violent victimization and constrained agency as they relate to sex trafficking. Our discussion focuses primarily on: gender disparities in pimping and the relationship dynamics between pimps and sex workers; non-dualistic life experiences of sex workers who are both perpetrators and victims of violent victimization; and intimate partner violence experienced by sex workers whose abusers are unaware of their participation in sex work. We discuss the findings from two ethnographic studies conducted in New York City between 2011 and 2014. The first study, led by the first author, involved a comprehensive examination of the life histories of 15 female and 15 transgender street sex workers between the ages 18 and 30. The second study, led by the second author, involved in-situ interviews with 85 male pimps/traffickers in Harlem housing projects. Findings suggest that misconceptions about the lives and experiences of individuals participating in illicit sex market may thwart public agency and community-based organization efforts to help victims of violence. The misguided “one size fits all” treatment of individuals in the sex industry may inadvertently push away individuals who both need and desire assistance.Presentation Objectives:

·         Participants will be able to discuss the framework of sensory integration.

·         Participants will be able to discuss the relationship between the sensory integration and trauma.

·         Participants will be able to describe the benefits of sensory integration in trauma informed care.

Participants will be able to identify sensory approaches to integrate into practice.

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The Role of Sensory Integration in Recovery Oriented Trauma Informed Care

Empirical evidence indicates that individuals exposed to trauma are at risk of sensory processing deficits including defensiveness, modulation, integration and registration. Deficiencies in sensory processing are linked with poor emotional regulation, anxiety disorders, and depression. Sensory integration supports self-regulation of the central nervous system, attachment, and reduction of seclusion and restraint. The empirical evidence and utilization of sensory approaches in mental health practice has significantly increased over the last decade. The integration of sensory and trauma informed interventions are an emerging practice area in the treatment of trauma. This presentation aims to provide education about the framework of sensory integration, the impact of trauma on the body’s stress regulation systems, and the use of sensory interventions in trauma informed care. Participants will have the opportunity to administer sensory assessments and trial sensory interventions.

Presentation Objectives:

·         Participants will be able to discuss the framework of sensory integration.

·         Participants will be able to discuss the relationship between the sensory integration and trauma.

·         Participants will be able to describe the benefits of sensory integration in trauma informed care.

Participants will be able to identify sensory approaches to integrate into practice.

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A Harlem Sex Market: Pimps, Bottoms and the Nexus of Caring and Cash

Third-party work arrangements often originate in private social spheres (see Dank et al., 2014; Marcus et al., 2012; May et al., 2000). In sex markets, these overlapping spheres can foster a complex intimacy and economy nexus. Zelizer (2000) explores the sociology of purchases of intimacy using three approaches: ‘hostile worlds,’ ‘nothing but,’ and ‘connected lives.’ In the hostile worlds paradigm, if intimate and economic spheres collide, they are contaminated and chaos ensues. In the nothing but paradigm, spheres blend quite normally, but with a focus on uneven power dynamics. ‘Connected lives’ is where intimacy and economy co-exist through on-going negotiations some deeper connections form. Pimps’ perspectives about the economy and intimacy nexus map onto Zelizer’s three-fold typology.

Eighty-five third parties are interviewed in housing projects in Harlem about their labor, including their approach with sex workers. The crux of understanding this nexus is the relationship between a third-party and his ‘bottom bitch,’ (main sex worker). Third parties articulate specific management philosophies; however, their approaches are not static. Their intimate feelings for bottoms can develop over time or romantic relationships transform to friendship or distant business relationship. Based on comparisons of median weekly income, those who are more intimate with workers generate higher earnings.

Presentation Objectives:

·         To explore pimps’ perspectives about the rules of intimacy with sex workers.

·         To understand work/intimacy arrangements between pimps and sex workers.

·         To investigate how arrangements may impact pimps’ work conduct.

To explore how the rule of intimacy in this work arena impact economic returns.

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Hope Rising: Benefits and Challenges Associated with the Implementation of a Trauma-Informed Sex Trafficking Safe House in Rural New England

This interactive presentation uses longitudinal data collected from service recipients and staff to contextualize the benefits and challenges associated with the implementation of a new sex trafficking safe house in rural New England. Instruments used to evaluate resident outcomes include the: Post-Traumatic Stress Checklist-5 (Weathers, Litz, Keane, Palmieri, Marx, & Schnurr, 2013), Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression index (Radloff, 1977), and Protective Factors Survey (social-emotional support and concrete support subscales). Resident outcomes related to the program goal of providing trauma-informed treatment and support services to residents will be discussed. Staff experiences, which are equally important to consider when developing a comprehensive understanding of program impacts, were measured using the: Professional Quality of Life (Stamm, 2012), Secondary Traumatic Stress Survey (Bride, Robinson, Yegidis, & Figley, 2004), Trauma-Informed Practice Survey (Institute for Health and Recovery, 2011), Global Transformational Leadership Scale (Carless, Wearing, & Mann, 2000), and Adverse Childhood Experiences (CDC, 2013). The Program Director and Lead Evaluator will discuss the role that prior trauma histories, leadership characteristics, and trauma-informed practices play in regards to staff, and how this data can assist in monitoring staff perceptions of well-being, which can contribute to or mitigate staff turnover.


Participants will be able to:

·         Describe the impact of an evidence-based, trauma-informed practice model on clients and staff;

·         Articulate benefits and challenges associated with providing services to sex trafficking victims/survivors;

·         Identify strategies for addressing challenges; and

Describe how data can be useful in informing the design of residential programs for sex trafficking victims/survivors.

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Survivor Mentoring

My Life My Choice is a survivor-led agency in Boston, MA. We pair adult survivors of the sex industry with youth who have been sexually exploited. The goal of the relationship is to build rapport, build self-esteem and to provide a continuum of service to youth as they exit the commercial sex industry. As the first to provide this service, our goal is to:

·         Educate others as to the benefit of the survivor mentor role

·         Provide a trauma-informed service

To speak a language to these youths that only a survivor can provide.

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Queer Experiences of Sexual Violence on American College Campuses and Title IX: An Ethnographic Social Justice Project

Title IX legislation dictates how universities in the U.S. investigate and respond to campus sexual violence. Low reporting rates of sexual violence occur within all demographics; however, oppressed identities often reflect the lowest reporting rates. The LGBTQ-identified community actually experience sexual violence at higher rates than heterosexual-identified persons on American college campuses, but have additional barriers when reporting. Twenty-four percent of Transgender, Genderqueer or gender non-conforming, Questioning, or Not listed (TGQN) undergraduates report nonconsensual sexual contact on college campuses. Sixty percent of gays and lesbians report being sexually harassed compared to 45.8% of heterosexuals. Qualitative research methods were used to understand the intersectionality of oppressions related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and public policy, particularly the relationship between Title IX on college campuses and LGBTQ/minority students. The aim is to better understand LGBTQ-identified people who experience(d) a form of sexual violence on a college campus and how their intersectional identities (race, class, gender, ability) impact(ed) their agency when reporting to legal or campus authorities. Whether resources (emotional, mental, physical, legal) were used by students was examined. An ethnographic, feminist methodology was used to inquire how Title IX is understood by minority/LGBTQ-identified students and how Title IX impacted students seeking support in the American academy.

Presentation Objectives:

·         To discuss the impacts of Title IX and policy on minority populations at American universities.

·         To raise awareness of social justice issues affecting LGBTQ students.

To engage with service providers and faculty within the academy to discuss how they can work with students and create progressive policy change on campuses.

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Show and Tell: Using Trauma-Sensitive Creative Interventions with Survivors of Sex Trafficking

How can people working in the helping profession support trafficked clients that become “stuck” in the counseling process? What are the benefits to using expressive interventions? How does trauma affect the brain? This engaging and interactive presentation sheds light on recent research findings that highlight the neurobiological benefits of using creative interventions. Attendees will learn trauma-sensitive creative approaches that can be easily implemented with survivors of sex trafficking or across a wide variety of settings. Attendees will also be engaged through the use of relevant case studies, open dialogue, and small group work to practice the use of pictorial narratives.

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Circles and Squares: Why Collaboration Fails and Succeeds

Responding to human trafficking requires collaborative effort; no single person, agency, or professional sector can be truly effective working alone. Yet the failure to effectively collaborate is the most common stumbling block for anti-trafficking organizations. Why is collaboration so difficult to initiate, achieve, and sustain?

Together we will explore why collaborative efforts most commonly fail, how we can become better collaborators as both individuals and as organizations, and – most importantly – what true collaboration can achieve. Learn how we all play a critical role in the response to human trafficking, while we unlock key steps we can take to create partnerships that will help all of us enhance our individual—and collective—response to modern slavery. 

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Effectively Managing a Long Term Recovery Home

There is a need for more long term programs for survivors of human trafficking. The need is great and research shows there are less than 1000 beds across the country for survivors to find long term help. In this session you will learn the basics of starting a home and funding its long term success. Refuge for Women has 3 homes for survivors in Kentucky. They have been operating since 2009 and have been able to work with survivors from 14 different states that have sought services. They have effectively launched a home in Las Vegas and Chicago. In 2017, homes are set to open in Miami, Atlanta, and North Texas.

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Are Rehabilitation and Reentry Services Effective in Toledo, Ohio: The Invisible Bars for Returning Citizens?

This workshop will present research on youth and adults returning to our community and highlighting the barriers one must overcome to maintain their freedom. This presentation will educate the audience on current work going on in the community to promote social change to assist returning citizens (formally incarcerated) overcome collateral sanctions. Typical reentry programs focus on “soft skills” and “mental toughness”. However, without the proper advocacy for returning citizens to regain back their civil rights nothing will change. Community synergy is necessary to reduce recidivism and help returning citizens overcome being a second class citizen. Finally, the presentation will highlight the struggles experienced as a convicted felon and how I overcame many significant barriers.

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Selling Sex: A National Snapshot of Online Commercial Sex Advertisements

This workshop will present findings from a one-day cross-sectional look at escort advertisements from every market in the US. currently is the largest advertiser of commercial sex in the nation. Law enforcement investigations and outreach efforts across the US have revealed numerous cases of human trafficking within the total universe of Backpage ads. A team of 60 volunteer researchers worked for 8 hours coding descriptive data such as number of ads, race, age, location, and so on. These are joined with US Census and other data in a comprehensive dataset of 400 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSA) covering all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to exploratory, descriptive analysis, quantitative and geographic analyses utilizing SPSS and ARCGIS explore relationships between ad data and potential explanatory variables such as percentage of male/female in population, poverty and income levels, and presence of major sporting/entertainment venues. Initial findings using state-level analysis have provided insights with implications for policymaking and advocacy efforts. E.g., preliminary analyses reveal that the per capita number of ads in a state is positively correlated with the percentage of females in that state’s overall population. In other words, commercial sex advertising appears to be driven by supply, rather than demand.

Presentation Objectives:

·         To present an overall description of the national online commercial sex marketplace

·         To identify factors related to the type and number of ads across the US

To discuss implications for anti-human trafficking and prostitution/sex work advocacy efforts.

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