Journalism and Mass Communications, College of


Date of this Version



Rajaram, S.S. & Tidball, S. (2016). Nebraska Survivor’s Speak – A Qualitative Research Study. Final Report submitted to the Women’s Fund of Omaha.


Copyright (c) 2016 Shireen S. Rajaram & Sriyani Tidball


This exploratory, qualitative research study was conducted by researchers Dr. Shireen S. Rajaram in the College of Public Health at University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and Ms. Sriyani Tidball in the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL), and was funded by the Women’s Fund of Omaha. The purpose of this study was to document the perspectives of adult women survivors of sex trafficking about the “3Ps” paradigm: to identify strategies to prevent sex trafficking, provide protection and support for survivors and prosecution of the perpetrators to reduce the demand for sex trafficking. The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 defines sex trafficking as a commercial sex act that is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or when there is a commercial sex act involving a person below 18 years of age. This study is the first of its kind in Nebraska that included the voices of survivors of sex trafficking. Qualitative research through one-on-one interviews provides information directly from survivors in their own words. Our goal was to ensure that the voices of trafficked women were included in on-going efforts to develop a comprehensive statewide plan to effectively combat sex trafficking in Nebraska. While sex trafficking of children and males is a serious issue, this study only focused on adult female sex trafficking survivors (i.e., they were prostituted against their will), 19 years and older, who may or may not have been sex trafficked while they were minors. To avoid re-traumatizing, we only included women who had not been sex trafficked within the past year. Through interviews, researchers obtained detailed, rich, and authentic descriptions from 22 women survivors of sex trafficking in Nebraska. Seventeen women lived in the Omaha-Lincoln area and 5 lived in rural Nebraska. Most women had children. Seven women were currently married. Thirteen women were white-Caucasian, four African American, three mixed race/ethnicity, and two Latino. As children, twelve of the women had been in foster care, and one woman had lived in a group home.

The study revealed the complexity of the issue of sex trafficking. The high level of ignorance about sex trafficking among all segments of society allows for it to exist and thrive, largely undetected. Currently, active planning efforts are underway to create a comprehensive statewide plan to combat trafficking in Nebraska. However, given that very little has been done in Nebraska, there is an urgent need to implement strategies to address prevention, protection and prosecution simultaneously. Focusing on only one without the others will not benefit survivors.