Objective: The objective of this study was to explore the experiences of service providers working with victims of child trafficking.

Methods: A grounded theory, qualitative methodology was employed for the study in which fifteen providers working with the child trafficking population were interviewed at length. Interviews were then transcribed, coded for themes using Atlas, t.i. data management software, and interpreted.

Results: As a result of the interviews conducted with providers, a specific theme related the resistance of victims to participate in services was consistently observed throughout the data. Five specific areas of victim resistance were discussed including; “good” and “bad” victims, identification with the trafficker, victim self-identification, building trust with providers, and lack of empowerment. Social judgments of victim behaviors, inability to identify as a victim of abuse due to normalization of family of origin abuse and violence, the presence of complex trauma and lack of opportunity for self-determination in current services add to this overall resistance.

Key Take Away Points

  • Service providers experience victim resistance as a significant barrier to the successful provision of services.
  • Complex trauma from abuse in both trafficking situations and family of origin, plays a significant role in victim resistance.
  • These results discuss the need for continue dialogue and consideration of victim resistance in the design and implementation of services.

Author Biography

Amanda West, PhD, LCSW is an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky, College of Social Work. She conducts ongoing research related to child trafficking in the United States and maintains research interests in the areas of child trauma, emergency mental health services for children, and vicarious trauma.