Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Educational and Psychological Studies (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Debbiesiu Lee

Second Committee Member

Etiony Aldarondo

Third Committee Member

Laura Kohn-Wood

Fourth Committee Member

Scotney Evans

Fifth Committee Member

Lien Tran

Sixth Committee Member

Maria Clara Harrington


There is a paucity of systematic research examining the experiences of commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC). Notably absent from the discourse are the voices of survivors themselves, impeding the provision of effective and culturally appropriate services to survivors and the prevention of youth victimization (Godziak, 2008). This dissertation aims to address a dearth in the literature surrounding CSEC using Photovoice, an innovative and arts-based methodology grounded in the principles of community-based participatory research (CBPR) (Wang, 1999). A group of 15 female survivors participated in the study, contributing to the field’s understanding of childhood commercial sexual exploitation. Survivors ranged in age from 14 to 22 and met weekly over a period of three months. A model of exploitation was collaboratively developed following a grounded theory analysis of photographic images, audio-recorded critical discussions, and written materials. The results of this study are expected to have theoretical and practical implications for the prevention of exploitation, the clinical treatment of survivors, and policy. Further, survivors concluded the transformative project by participating in a local initiative facilitating artistic expression, raising local consciousness surrounding the issue of child sexual exploitation, and empowering young survivors to advocate on behalf of their communities.


Sex Trafficking; Sexual Exploitation; Sex Abuse; CSEC; Child Abuse; Photovoice