Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Beverly M Black


Human trafficking has become increasingly recognized as a serious form of violence against women. In the identification of human trafficking cases, proof of three elements are required according to the Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act (TVPA): force, fraud, and coercion. While force and fraud appear to be more universally conceptualized across service professionals, there is little consensus concerning the element of coercion. I suggest that it is power, not coercion, that is the key construct in recruiting and maintaining victims of trafficking, and that coercion is a kind of power. Thus, this study examined power in the recruitment and maintaining of trafficking victims leading to a more comprehensive understanding of what prevents them from escaping. In addition, this study examined the differences between sex trafficking and labor trafficking victims. This study found that there were few significant differences between sex and labor trafficked participants in perceptions of power. Labor trafficking more than sex trafficking victims perceived coercive power during maintenance phase. Additionally, it was found that during recruitment phase social support, moderated by age at the time of trafficking influenced the perception of coercive, reward, and total powers, though not statistically significant. During maintenance phase age at the time of trafficking significantly influenced the perception of negative personal power, but this significance was lost when interaction terms were added to the model suggesting perhaps moderated-mediation effects are present. Finally, during rescue/escape phase, community support was the key entrapment factor that significantly influenced perceptions of positive personal, negative personal, and political powers. Interaction terms did not impact the regression models, demonstrating that the interaction of entrapment factors were not as important in advanced stages of the trafficking experience. Results of this study suggest that policy makers and practitioners should not emphasize one form of trafficking over the other as they both appear to experience similar forms of entrapment and perceive power similarly. Moreover, the result that interaction terms varied in importance at various phases of the trafficking experience implies the need for practitioners to consider the impacts that the trafficking experience has had on the victim more than the entrapment factors that lead them to become victimized. Additionally, prevention efforts should focus on strengthening protective factors for individuals and communities, such as access to education and employment opportunities, bolstering social and community connectedness, rather than focus on anti-migration public awareness campaigns.


International human trafficking, Power, Intersectionality


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Social Work Commons