“To the Public, Nothing was Wrong with Me” Life Experiences of Minors and Youth in Texas At Risk for Commercial Sexual Exploitation




Kellison, Bruce
Torres, Melissa I.M.
Kammer-Kerwick, Matt
Hairston, Dixie
Talley, McKenna
Busch-Armendariz, Noël

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Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, The University of Texas at Austin



This study looked at child sex trafficking in 3 regions in Texas: Houston, Lubbock and along the Texas-Mexico border. Researchers with IDVSA and the Bureau of Business Research at the IC2 Institute investigated the pathways to childhood sex trafficking, risks of victimization, and interactions with social services, among many other factors. A total of 466 research participants were interviewed from among at-risk community segments. From that group, 71 participants indicated they were exploited for commercial sex before the age of 18 — with the average age of first victimization being 15 — and 46 of them agreed to be interviewed in-depth about their experiences entering, exiting and during their exploitation. A majority of the 46 children and youths had interacted at some point with social service providers and systems tasked with keeping them safe but had not been identified at the time as victims of trafficking and exploitation. The report below provides guidance to policymakers, service providers and law enforcement officials as they seek to strengthen the safety net for at-risk youths and prevent trafficking with recommendations for specific prevention and intervention models. The study empirically supports the experiences of those who have been working directly with minor and youth victims.

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Kellison, B., Torres, M. I. M., Kammer-Kerwick, M., Hairston, D., Talley, M., & Busch-Armendariz, N. (2019). “To the public, nothing was wrong with me”: Life experiences of minors and youth in Texas at risk for commercial sexual exploitation. Austin, TX: Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, The University of Texas at Austin.