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Contrary to common belief, the portrait of a human-trafficking survivor in Missouri is not that of a young, white teenager who is abducted and forced into the sex trade. Instead, Kathleen Preble’s survey of the state’s social service providers found that survivors usually are Black or brown (46%) and Asian (10%).
The assistant professor of social work also found that 18- to 35-year-olds make up the bulk of the survivors (56%). The vast majority were not immigrants but rather poor or working-class U.S. citizens trafficked for sex (83%), labor (5%) or both (13%).
In considering survivors’ prospects for the future, she says, they had to possess great “agency, strength and resilience to have survived the experience of exploitation.” Even so, Preble says, survivors need access to treatment for mental health and substance use as well as appropriate housing.