Domestic Sex Trafficking and Prostitution: Implications of Stigmatization

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Capstone Project

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Judith Fox

Second Advisor

Kimberly Gorgens

Third Advisor

Diane Guerra


Sex trafficking, Prostitution, Stigma theory


This article explores how the judgments and biases of therapists who work with prostitutes and domestic sex trafficking victims may negatively affect the therapeutic relationship in important ways. To accomplish this, this article reviews the history and development of the legal definitions of prostitution and sex trafficking while outlining some issues that confound the research. It reviews literature from feminist theory and criminology which has informed legislation and interventions. It summarizes current law enforcement training guidelines, American Bar Association guidelines, and recommendations outlined by the American Psychological Association Task Force on Trafficking of Women and Girls. Stigma theory is briefly described and then applied to all women engaged in commercial sex acts. It provides a new conceptual understanding of prostitution and sex trafficking by incorporating the ways in which stigma dynamics may impact the perceptions and experiences of the psychological and legal professionals as well as their clients. Implications for increasing the effectiveness of psychological interventions with these populations are suggested. Considerations for other professional groups working with these populations are provided.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


40 pages

This document is currently not available here.