Claire Helpingstine, Maureen C. Kenny & Bradel Canfield (2021) Survivors of Commercial Sexual Exploitation: Experiences Working in Service Organizations, Journal of Human Trafficking,
Claire Helpingstine, Maureen C. Kenny & Bradel Canfield (2021) Survivors of Commercial Sexual Exploitation: Experiences Working in Service Organizations, Journal of Human Trafficking, DOI: 10.1080/23322705.2021.1946334
This research project interviewed 16 survivors of commercial sexual exploitation to inquire about their experiences working as a survivor in a service organization. In the first paper of its kind, the authors found that while there were many aspects of their jobs they were satisfied with, the survivors had some dissatisfaction. They were generally not satisfied with their salary and at times felt compelled to tell their stories without consent. This exciting research was survivor informed and brings attention to the working conditions and experiences of survivors after they have exited the life.
Helpingstine, C., Stephens, D., Kenny, M., & Eaton, A. (2021). Adolescent girls with a history of Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE): Perceptions and characteristics of social networks. Child Abuse & Neglect, 115, DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2021.105015
This study points to the importance of social networks for racial/ethnic minority adolescent girls who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation (CSE). As described in interviews conducted with survivors of CSE, the results of the study suggest that social networks can influence girl's vulnerability to CSE. Some members of the girl's social networks played two roles, in some ways increasing participant's vulnerability, and in other ways, protecting them against CSE. The dual role of some network members illustrates the importance of viewing the role of social networks as both complex and dynamic for girls who have experienced CSE. Therefore, clinicians need to consider who is viewed as important to members of this population and their role in the survivor's life.
Kenny, M. C., Helpingstine, C., & Long, H. (2020). College students’ recollections of childhood sexual abuse prevention programs and their potential impact on reduction of sexual victimization. Child Abuse & Neglect, 104, 104486, DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2020.104486
This study highlights the importance of child sexual abuse (CSA) prevention programs in schools. The researchers found that students who recalled participating in any sexual abuse prevention program in childhood (school age years) were less likely to report sexual victimization. Given that the student participants were quite international, an interesting finding of the study was that this was regardless of where the program took place (US or another country) or the content of the program. However, those that participated in programs in the US, were more likely to disclose their abuse than those who took part in programs in other countries. Thus, it is critical that schools across the globe offer universal CSA prevention programs as one part of comprehensive prevention.
Kenny, M. C., Helpingstine, C., Long, H., & Harrington, M. C. (2020). Assessment of commercially sexually exploited girls upon entry to treatment: Confirmed vs. at risk victims. Child Abuse & Neglect, 100, 104040, DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.104040
This study used a sample of 96 girls (aged 12–18 years) who were referred to the center’s specialized treatment program for commercially sexually abused girls. They consisted of both confirmed and suspected victims of sex trafficking. Using a standardized battery of assessments when the girls were admitted to the program, there were some significant differences between the groups Intake information revealed significant differences between groups with confirmed victims reporting higher levels of sex work, kidnapping, physical abuse, physical assault and sexual abuse by a non-family member than at risk victims. All participants were exposed to traumas, were racially and ethnically diverse and lived primarily with their families. This study concludes that commercially sexually exploited girls have experienced multiple traumas in their lives and display emotional and behavioral difficulties. Early detection of girls who may be at risk for sexual exploitation may allow for prevention and intervention as these girls also have traumatic backgrounds and display similar symptoms.
Maureen C. Kenny, Claire Helpingstine, Roberto L. Abreu & Francesco Duberli (2019): Understanding the needs of LGBTQ clients and their risk for commercial sexual exploitation: Training community mental health workers, Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, DOI: 10.1080/10538720.2019.1568338
It is critical to provide training to professionals on commercial sexual exploitation and victimization of LGBTQ youths to increase their awareness of this issue. This study evaluated a training that provided information about the continuum of sexuality and gender identity, sensitivity when working with LGBTQ clients, LGBTQ clients’ risks for CSE, and ways to improve service delivery to this population. After engaging in he training, participants showed an increase in knowledge. Follow-up testing showed that some knowledge was maintained over time. Through this community-based training, participants gained knowledge about the continuum of sexual and gender identity, appropriate service delivery when working with LGBTQ individuals, and the risk factors for CSE for LGBTQ youths. This knowledge is essential in providing appropriate services to these sexual minority victims.
Maureen C. Kenny, Claire Helpingstine, Haiying Long, Lorena Perez & Maria Clara Harrington (2019): Increasing Child Serving Professionals’ Awareness and Understanding of the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, DOI: 10.1080/10538712.2018.1563264
Child serving professionals need increased understanding of the identification and therapeutic needs of child victims of commercial sexual exploitation. In an effort to provide this information to professionals, an introductory training was developed. Over 200 professionals participated and showed improvement in their knowledge after the program. Participants indicated several areas in which they gained knowledge: (1) greater ability to identify/assess or recognize CSEC victims, (2) greater understanding and knowledge of CSEC, (3) increased ability to communicate, interact, and engage with CSEC victims, and (4) heightened desire to educate others and raise awareness about CSEC. These results highlight the importance of providing training in the community to increase awareness of this form of victimization.
Kenny, M. C., Helpingstine, C. E., & Weber, M. (2018). Treatment of a Commercially Sexually Abused Girl Using Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Legal Interventions. Clinical Case Studies, 18(1), 18–35, DOI: 10.1177/1534650118800809
This in depth description of a young woman who was successfully treated with Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy demonstrates the application of this modified technique with a victim of commercial sexual exploitation. The steps of her treatment and modifications that were made are fully explained. Her successful outcome is documented and provides evidence of this approach with victims of commercial sexual exploitation. This is just one example of a victim that is successfully treated with TF-CBT and can reintegrate into society after victimization.
Maureen C. Kenny, Claire E. Helpingstine, Maria Clara Harrington & Adriana G. McEachern (2018): A Comprehensive Group Approach for Commercially Sexually Exploited Girls, The Journal for Specialists in Group Work, DOI: 10.1080/01933922.2018.1484540
This paper describes the group programming used in Project Girls Owning Their Lives and Dreams (GOLD) as well as the participants satisfaction. This program is a comprehensive group counseling program providing psychoeducational, growth, support, and counseling groups to adolescent victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The program utilizes both staff and community volunteers to facilitate programs. Through the use of online surveys, the group participants reported being generally satisfied with the groups and reported themes of bonding with peers, learning new skills, empowerment, and stress relief. Other programs that work with victims may want to consider the range of groups that can be used in treatment.
Kenny, M. C., Vazquez, A., Long, H., & Thompson, D. (2017). Implementation and program evaluation of trauma-informed care training across state child advocacy centers: An exploratory study. Children and Youth Services Review, 73, 15–23, DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2016.11.030
Awareness of Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) is essential for all professionals employed at child advocacy centers (CAC). This study evaluated the effectiveness of a training program that utilized a modified version of a TIC curriculum accessible through the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) among CAC workers in Florida. The results indicated that participants' TIC knowledge significantly increased after training and was maintained up to 12 months after the training. This highlights the importance of providing this information to all staff at CACs as they are likely to come into contact with victims. Ensuring centers are trauma informed is the first step in providing appropriate treatment to victims.