Date of Award

Summer 8-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Mental Health Counseling



First Advisor or Mentor

Chitra Raghavan

Second Reader

Shuki J. Cohen

Third Advisor

Kendra Doychak


This study examines how the use of elaboration as a means of compliance, used by victims of sex trafficking in long-term relationships with their exploiters, supports the presence of chronic coercive control. A discourse analytical framework is used to capture the non-explicit coercive dynamics in conversations between sex workers and their exploiters. This study also employs the theoretical framework of coercive control to examine how victims use elaboration as a means of compliance to navigate the implicit and ongoing threats incorporated in an environment of coercive control. Linguistic analyses of the language that victims use with their traffickers compared to language used with other individuals are consistent with a chronically-engrained pattern of internalized coercive control. We found clear linguistic patterns that indicated an imbalance of power, which was maintained over a long-term exploiter-victim relationship.



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