Addressing race, racism, and commercial sexual exploitation in practice through an action-based research partnership

Abstract provided on behalf of the authors: Lara B Gerassi, Amanda Colegrove, and Deanna Kopriva McPherson

This paper analyzes the participatory research process stemming from a five-year transformative relationship between anti-trafficking coalition members (including service providers from multiple social service organizations), the coalition organizer, and a service provider who became a sex trafficking/commercial sexual exploitation researcher. We describe the collaborative process in the study design (including development of research questions, methodological and analytic planning, interview guide development, member checking, dissemination of findings, and creation of action steps) for one study, which sought to understand barriers and facilitators to service access and engagement among adult women involved in commercial sex. We analyze how our relationships enhanced methodological rigor and overall feasibility of the study, while creating a pathway to change in the community. Finally, we reflect on the role of our own diverse racial identities in collaborating on this research study, as well the implications for action.

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