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Sharon Xuereb


Nigerian police are not trusted by the population they swore to protect because they often assault, manipulate, exploit, and humiliate citizens as a form of intimidation to achieve a personal gain, especially from those who are involved in illegal activities like prostitution. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the experiences of Nigerian prostitutes and learn how they use adaptive coping strategies to cope with the stress of police victimization. This study’s underlying theory was the distress tolerance theory, which was utilized to understand the emergence of adaptive coping strategies. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews with nine street prostitutes in Abuja, Nigeria. Findings from thematic analysis indicated four emergent themes: experiencing constant psychological pain due to police violation and exploitation; feeling resentful due to unjust police actions on prostitutes; feeling helpless, resulting in stress; and growing feelings of social attachment among street prostitutes with other sympathizers to avoid police victimization. Findings indicated that prostitutes regularly need to seek unconventional ways of coping with the stress that comes with police victimization to ensure their survival on the streets and to maintain a stable psychological disposition. Findings may be used to educate public officers, especially in developing countries, to encourage respect for offenders’ human rights. Findings may also be used in the establishment of psychological intervention centers for victimized prostitutes and police misconduct bureaus at which victimized prostitutes can report cases of police abuse.

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