Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Winston Seegobin

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Gathercoal

Third Advisor

Dr. Nancy Thurston


Few studies have examined the experiences of sexually trafficked victims and survivors in the United States.

As the population increases it is important to understand how sexually trafficked victims and survivors cope with trauma, experience recovery, and respond to therapy. Research indicates that factors of hope and resilience play a vital role in the way individuals cope with trauma and experience recovery (Masten & Narayan, 2012).

This study examined factors of hope and resilience of 12 sexually trafficked victims and survivors, ages 14 to 21. Interviews were conducted and a mixed-methods design was employed to establish common themes related to how sex trafficking victims comprehend and experience hope and resilience within their lives.

Significant quantitative and qualitative results were found in this study. Six significant qualitative themes were derived from the interviews describing various ways that participants experienced hope and resilience. The themes included (a) Need for positive attachment (b) Positive Self-Portrayal (c) Introspection (d) Adaptability (e) Need for money, and (f) Desire for change.

Additionally, participants also completed the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale, the Children’s Hope Scale or Adult Hope Scale, and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25. Quantitative results indicate a strong positive correlation between depression and anxiety (r = .52, p < .01), a strong positive correlation between hope and resilience (r = .70, p < .04), and a strong negative correlation between resilience and anxiety (r = -.63, p < .03).

The implications of this study may be used to direct clinical focus when working with victims and survivors, placing emphasis on the importance of developing hope and resilience throughout the rehabilitation process.