Date of Conferral







Diana Jeffery


AbstractThe trafficking of women and girls into the sex industry is one of the world’s fastest growing crimes against humanity. The psychological impact of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation on survivors has not been widely studied, creating a gap in the literature that merits further research to understand the processes of survivor rehabilitation and community. The purpose of this study was to analyze the relationship between complex posttraumatic stress disorder and having purpose in life among U.S. female citizens who were trafficked into the sex industry. Frankl’s theory of finding meaning was paired with Park’s theory of making meaning after trauma to provide the theoretical foundation for the study. A quantitative correlational design was used to measure the relationship between complex posttraumatic stress disorder and purpose in life in 12 survivors who responded to recruitment posters displayed at agencies and on social media platforms. Participants completed demographic questions, the Structured Interview for Disorders of Extreme Stress (Not Otherwise Specified), and the Purpose in Life Test. Data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Science software. The demographic variables of age, time in captivity, time in therapy, substance use, motherhood, and spiritual/religious affiliation, were analyzed to determine the strength of correlation. Findings indicated that survivors had less complex posttraumatic stress disorder when more purpose in life was present. The study’s implications for positive social change include informing the approaches used by mental health providers when working with sexually exploited trafficked women to reintegrate into society.