Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department/Program

Forensic Mental Health Counseling

Language

English

First Advisor

Chitra Raghavan

Second Reader

Charles B. Stone

Third Advisor

Lisa Fischel-Wolovick

Abstract

The present study analyzed wiretap data to determine the characteristics of social support among concurrent victims of sex trafficking. Using a grounded theory approach to determine prevalent elements and themes that characterize interactions, conversations between women and conversations between pimps and women that involve concurrent victims as a topic of conversation were examined. A coding scheme was created based on the derived elements, and network patterns were analyzed. Finally, temporal patterns of conflict were examined to determine whether periods of heightened threat were used to punctuate periods of seeming calm, similar to that seen in research on coercive control and intimate partner violence (Dutton & Goodman, 2005). Findings suggested that the pimp used coercive control to maintain victim compliance, and as a result, victims were isolated from the outside world. While at the surface the women appeared to have each other as their primary social network, analysis revealed that the women monitored and regulated each other in order to enforce the pimp’s rules and gain status with him, which contributed to feelings of competition, distrust, and jealousy. This is consistent with other studies that have noted such discord among victims (Morselli & Savoie-Gargiso, 2014; Reid & Piquero, 2014), which increases trust towards the pimp (Reid, 2016). The current research has implications for understanding the complex and subtle nature of coercive control and the power pimps exercise over their victims.

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