Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Lauren Hayes



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling Psychology

Committee Chair

Suzanne Lease

Committee Member

Gayle Beck

Committee Member

Tracy Bruen

Committee Member

Elin Ovrebo


While precise prevalence rates are not available, it is expected that there are many survivors of sex trafficking within the United States. Substantial evidence demonstrates the physical, mental, and social health disparities experienced by sex trafficking survivors (STS). The limited exploration of disordered eating symptomology in STS is a notable gap in understanding their health needs, especially considering the known link between exposure to trauma and disordered eating. One purpose of this study was to document the occurrence of disordered eating in a sample of STS. The current study also examined the unique effect of the sex trafficking experience, separate from other traumas, in explaining disordered eating directly and indirectly through variables of self-surveillance and body shame. Survey data related to sex trafficking status, disordered eating, self-surveillance, body shame, and discrimination were collected from 180 women who were not trafficked and 113 women who were trafficked. Findings demonstrate that STS report higher rates of disordered eating than their non-trafficked counterparts. Additionally, when controlling for general trauma and subjective socioeconomic status, trafficking status was found to significantly predict disordered eating through certain mechanisms of self-objectification, including body shame, and a combination of self-surveillance and body shame, but not self-surveillance alone. These results have implications for future research and clinical work with STS, which will be instrumental in mitigating the impact of the sex trafficking epidemic plaguing women in the U.S.


Data is provided by the student

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest.


Open Access