Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Mental Health Counseling



First Advisor or Mentor

Chitra Raghavan

Second Reader

Jennifer Loveland

Third Advisor

Abbie Tuller


This study examined how traffickers used different elements of isolation and how such tactics may have contributed to the traffickers’ success in maintaining control over the victim. I examined in-depth narratives from 14 women between the ages of 20-53, primarily immigrants, who were recruited from an agency serving victims of sex trafficking in a large metropolitan city. The tactics used by traffickers varied and included not only the commonly defined structural isolation in which victims are restricted physically and socially, but also included a shrinking of safe social space and an elimination of privacy and social support. The latter is termed functional isolation and refers to instances when survivors are surrounded by peers who are either unreliable or aligned with the trafficker and thus, are unable to give genuine social support. Finally, the different interwoven types and patterns of physical and psychological isolation reported by former victims of trafficking help address a dearth in the coercive control and abuse literature, providing a richer understanding of isolation in trafficking survivors.



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