Long-Term Survivors of Commercial Sexual Exploitation: Survivor Voice and Survivency in the Decades after Exiting
Anti-trafficking research recognizes several populations affected by Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in the United States (U.S.), yet it has not yet recognized long-term survivors, whose experiences of CSE occurred from the 1960s through the 2000s. Rendering long-term survivors invisible erases the history of CSE in the U.S. and prevents an accurate assessment of the true scope of CSE that it extends from infancy through adulthood. The most grievous CSE cultures target both boys and girls beginning at infancy and extending through early childhood. This project provides a foundation for understanding who long-term survivors are, the types of CSE they experienced, and their experiences of survivency in the decades after exiting. This study utilized interviews and surveys to collect data from 35 long-term survivors, regarding their experiences in the years past exiting. In addition, it also included a systematic analysis of 43 survivor-authors who have documented their experiences in 76 published writings. Findings show that long-term survivors display tenacity and resourcefulness in dealing with complex, intersecting issues. Their experiences of creating new, meaning-filled identities, reconnecting with humanity, and building a positive view of the world can help pave the way for a smoother road of restoration for younger survivors.